yinka shonibare MBE in ‘looking back’ photography exhibition at zeitz mocca, cape town

23 June 2014
LOOKING BACK presents works of three artists in the permanent collection of Zeitz MOCAA: Zanele Muholi, Andrew Putter and Yinka Shonibare MBE. This exhibition is situated in a purposed environment that suggests memories of both period and modernist interiors. Soundtracks by Zanele Muholi and Yinka Shonibare permeate the galleries. From both ends of the Zeitz MOCAA Pavilion we hear desperate cries of loss and longing.

Theorists such as John Berger, Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan, and Jean-Paul Satre, have clearly severed the possibility of any anonymity in seeing. We now understand that we do not simply look at something. Our gaze is returned and through this relationship of "viewing" and "being viewed" we become acutely aware that a process of LOOKING BACK happens. We see ourselves reflected in that which we observe. We are now conscious of the impossibility of any neutrality in looking, but rather we see through lenses of prejudgment informed by religious conviction, gender, orientation, ethics, morality, economics, superstition, culture and even fear. Being aware that as we look, we ourselves are observed creates a state of anxiousness. We begin to recognize our responsibilities in the act of looking both at the present time but also at history itself. Theories of looking have now delivered a new challenge. If the gaze is implicated in power relationships and even knowledge itself, what opportunities do we have to look in a more democratic way? A more responsible way?

LOOKING BACK challenges us to consider why we gaze the way we do? What the outcomes are of the way we gaze? Can our gaze happen in a way that does not violate something that is different to us, that is unfamiliar or that we do not understand?

The exhibition runs from 23 June to 12 October 2014.

Yinka Shonibare MBE at Zeitz MOCCA, Cape Town.