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First Floor Gallery supports artists

This collaborative engagement resulted in works by Brian Banda, Zacharaha Magasa, Wycliff Mundopa, Terence Musekiwa and Moffatt Takadiwa being showcased at an exhibition which opened in Bangkok, Thailand on Thursday.

Marcus Gora, the co-founder and director of the First Floor Gallery said this engagement was a reciprocal platform meant to facilitate contemporary artists to have their works showcased at international exhibitions without the artists having to necessarily travel to attend these exhibitions.

“This is an exchange programme meant to push boundaries of the arts industry and have international works showcased locally and at the same time take local works outside Zimbabwe and internationally,” said Gora.

“Visual arts are mainly funded by non-governmental organisations and this has been short changing the artists in terms of their sense of self expression since they are forced to operate as mouth pieces of their funder’s ideals.

“Artists have therefore been forced to work within the parameters of their funders who ultimately determine projects that succeed or fail.

“This engagement is meant to develop a community of artists that are self-centred, hence progression is the ultimate cause.”
The exhibition in Bangkok is running under the theme, Harare Beyond Words, Emerging Art from Zimbabwe and will close at the end of the month.

It is a groundbreaking show of contemporary art from emerging Zimbabwean artists whose works share the realities of their compatriots and highlighting their struggles to upkeep their families through creating music, colour and poetry.

Mundopa and Banda focus on the lives of women and the former creates beautiful mono-prints, drawings and collages while the latter elevates discarded cooking utensils into dignified and emotive sculptures.

Takadiwa distills the poverty and privations of life in contemporary Zimbabwe with surprising combinations of functional objects.

Magasa captures both a love of music and the spirit of Harare with paintings made from the multicolored remnants of plastic containers, which are distinctly local.

Musekiwa brings traditional Zimbabwean stone carving into the contemporary world, blending it with issues of labour and home life.
Gora added that although this initiative was meant to support a lot of upcoming visual artists, there was need for them to start educating different communities on the importance and need to support art.

“It starts with the artists, the public needs to know the role art plays in their lives and if this is done then artists themselves can ensure sustainability,” said Gora.

Last year, First Floor Gallery featured a ground-breaking audio-visual performance work from a German artist Stefinie Sixt and her collaborator Anina von Molnar.

The work also featured screening of a sound, visual and light performance in conjunction with dance and film, showcasing the use of new media and creative collaborations between artists of different disciplines.

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