‘Blood Relatives’ was the theme for the 2018 Annual Exhibition at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare.
My work “I am left with the dead” / “Only the dead are left” is exhibited in this show.
This mixed-media installation is a mapping of a colonial cemetery in present day Zimbabwe and refers to the artists’ personal experience of a European ancestral past and descent.
Most of the former colonial oppressors and people of European descent have gone, have left Zimbabwe, their former home that holds the graves of their ancestors. The dead are left behind.
The motif of the graveyard underpins a greater theme, one of abandonment and loss. The graveyard that used to be immaculately maintained is now in disrepair. The gravestones “record names and dates of death, tombstones have decorative symbols and selected memories carved in stone. The graves speak of the European people who came to Zimbabwe and died here. Their ancestral spirits are wandering in this foreign place they now call home. The places of their births are far away, perhaps forgotten by their relatives and only remembered on the family tree” (Dr Sekai Nzenza, The Colonial Cemetery : Our troubled history.)
The artist’s blood relatives are scattered around the world, the only blood relatives that remain are dead. She is left with the dead. Only the dead are left.