My encounter with Mwangi Hutter’s work was a love at first sight story. It went straight through me like a lightening, a recognition, no introduction was required.
Their quest is profoundly and uniquely human. A constant duality and fluidity of life and death, male and female, black and white, movement and stillness, inside and outside, ying and yang. An existential dance in search of ultimate freedom, always beautifully choreographed.
It was from this perpetual movement of identities, this constant contamination and mutation, this ceaseless questioning of one’s self that permeates Mwangi Hutter’s body of work that the idea for this exhibition was born.
In the era where, especially in the West, the quest for perfection has become an obsession that blindly feeds our collective vanity fair and prevents us from seeing, this exhibition wants to shift the focus and celebrate the beauty of imperfection.
For what is perfection if not a limit, a stagnation, an end? A finished, complete circle that doesn’t allow any evolution, any growth, any expansion? Isn’t it only by accepting our imperfections and vulnerabilities that we can start evolving and thinking outside ourselves? Only by acknowledging the idea of incompleteness can we let ‘the otherness’ in and embrace diversity? Only by coming to terms with the idea of impermanence and finitude can we liberate ourselves from clinging to the safety of the status quo and try to be free?
The Wabi Sabi worldview, that traces its origin in the 14th century Japan, summarizes these thoughts in 3 simple realities: Nothing is perfect, Nothing is complete, Nothing lasts.
It is these three concepts that guide us through the works of the IM–PERFECTION exhibition. Mwangi Hutter’s works are in dialogue with those of the other four invited artists MASBEDO, Amira Parree, Lerato Shadi and Vincent Witomski.
A special room is dedicated to the artists selection from the Moleskine Foundation Collection. The show is conceived as a dance, an exchange, a conversation between the pieces that discuss imperfection, incompleteness and impermanence – the conditions that ultimately make us perfectly human.
Mwangi and Hutter were born in Nairobi, Kenya and Ludwigshafen, Germany. They merged their names and biographies and became a single artist, Mwangi Hutter. Working with video, sound, photography, installation, sculpture, painting and performance, they use themselves as the sounding board to reflect on changing societal realities, creating an aesthetics of self-knowledge and interrelationship.
Their work has been shown across Africa, Asia, Europe, United States and South America, at the 57th Venice Biennale, documenta 14, the Bienal de Sao Paulo, the Brooklyn Museum, Smithsonian Institution - National Museum of African Art, Centre Pompidou in Paris, Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, Dak’Art Biennale, Mori Museum in Tokyo amongst others.
Mwangi Hutter live and work in Berlin, Ludwigshafen and Nairobi. Masbedo, Nicolò Massazza (1973) and Iacopo Bedogni (1970), live and work in Milan, Italy. Nicolò and Jacopo began working together in 1999 as MASBEDO, focusing on video art and installations. Their artistic research has focused on the theme of incommunicability both on a personal level, between couples, and on a larger scale, highlighting the paradox of our communication society. This has led them to produce very intimate pieces alongside work with a greater anthropological, social, and political feel.
They express themselves through the language of video, in different forms such as performance, theatre, installation, photography and recently cinema. In Italy they are recognized among the most important video artists and innovators in the field of Contemporary Art. Thanks to their unique feature of re-union of different arts the multiplicity of languages becomes a single chorus.
Their personal exhibitions have been held in several museums: the Reggia di Venaria Reale in Turin, Mart Rovereto, Fondazione Merz in Turin, MaMbo Bologna, MAXXI Rome, Ujazdowsky Castle Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, CCCB Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, DA2 Domus Artium of Salamanca, MACRO Rome.
They have also worked on the realisation of the visual layout for Mozart’s Opera Magic Flute, produced by Fondazione Arena di Verona in 2015 and 2017. They are further presenting their latest installation at Manifesta 2018 in Palermo.
Amira Parree (*1970 in Egypt) lives and works in Paris. Parree studied Interior and Furniture Design in Helwan University, Cairo and Graphic Design at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. Moving to France, she obtained her Master Research degree in Fine Art from the University of Paris 1 - Sorbonne. Parree participated in several shows internationally in Cairo, New York, Paris.
She recently participated in Dak'Art Biennale (2016), and had a solo exhibition And If I Die? in the Museum of Modern Art CAAM, Las Palmas - Spain (2016). “My past is a memory of my present, that is a memory of my future. There is always an invitation to leave that is present in me. To leave to arrive, to leave to arrive, again and again. Question of locating myself in relation to society and myself.
I like the action of solving. That's why process is in a big importance to me and my work, even if they do not affect my work at the end. Process allows me to have a broader understanding of materials and, by then, help the idea exists without being forced. Process allows a self- examination while treating a subject or a matter.
As a result, it helps me locate and relocate myself in what I am doing which results a self-awareness. Therefore, I exist as a subject of aesthetic exploration. I become a lifestyle more than an experience crossed by. That lifestyle becomes a perpetual state of being.”
Lerato Shadi lives and works in Berlin. She received her BFA in Art at the University of Johannesburg in 2006 and is currently pursuing her MFA at Kunsthochschule Berlin Weissensee. In 2009 Shadi was included in The Generational: ‘Younger Than Jesus artists-directory’ published by the New Museum, New York. In 2010 she was awarded a Pro Helvetia residency in Bern, Switzerland. Her work was featured at the Dak’art Biennale and in the III Moscow International Biennale in 2012.
She was awarded with the mart stam studio grant, Berlin in 2014. Shadi received the Alumni Dignitas Award of the University of Johannesburg in 2016, participated in the ‘JoburgArtFair TEDx talk’ in the same year and presented her solo show ‘Noka Ya Bokamoso’ at the South African National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. Shadi was a delegate of the ‘NSK State Pavilion’ at the 57th Venice Biennale, she participated in The Parliament of Bodies, the Public Programs of documenta 14 and was awarded with the AFRICA’SOUT! residency program (New York) in 2017. Shadi is fellow of the German Villa Romana Prize (Florence) for 2018 and in 2019 she will have her first German institutional solo show.
“Shadi’s body of work often investigates the ways in which one might negotiate a space for themselves in inhospitable locations; her work traces the edges of conflict on our bodies and psyches, following our attempts to feel our way beyond erasure, restricted as we are by exclusion, and the memory-house of our own memory of trauma. For artists who live on the coalface of historical erasure, their artistic practice becomes an obligation: to write, to record, archive what happens when one’s history and the record of one’s people’s existence is being erased.”
Vincent Witomski (*1975 in Grenoble, France) lives and works in Paris. . He started to learn drawing at the age of 6 and then studied painting and modelling in a private art school. Witomski graduated as an architect in 2000 and moved to Paris where he worked on international projects with the most prestigious agencies (Paul Andreu, Jean-Paul Viguier). In 2008, he founded his own architectural rendering studio, which he still runs successfully while pursuing his artwork. Between music, architecture and painting, Witomski formulates his picture language through his preferred medium: oil painting. Originally, it called forth the urgent need to express the vertigo from his own chimerical world. Gradually, his work is leading to instinctive and immediate painting. He seeks to bring new materials and commits his work to a sort of shedding process: the canvas like a skin, which can be inked, cut or shredded. His painting evolves at the pace of vivid and raw gestures, while the core of his creative process builds on an experimental sonic universe. He brings forward the upstrokes and downstrokes, criss-crosses the abstract and rugged paths while focusing on the interplays of light.