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23.09.30- Husby Culture Center – Marcia Harvey Isaksson och Kayo Mpoyi
3,5% Over Generations 5 – September 01 to October 01 2023 – Place Edvard Griegsgången 11, Husby centre – Art curator Sarah Tawiah Sword Ulrika Flink http://www.tawiahcurating.com
ABOUT the artists
Kayo Mpoyi (b. 1986, in Zaire) is a Swedish artist and writer. Kayo received the Catapult Prize 2019 for the best debut novel “Mai means water”, a childhood account set in Congolese exile environments in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. Kayo Mpoyi studies liberal arts at King’s College. Stockholm School of Art. She won the Academy of Fine Arts and the Royal Palaces scholarship competition in 2022. Mpoyi has had public design assignments in Jordbro Centrum and a solo exhibition called “inner Archeology” at gallery Detroitbu Stockholm in 2022. In the summer of 2022, Mpoyi debuted as a children’s book author with the picture book Kitoko and in autumn, the same year a second adult novel, An exercise in revolution.
Marcia Harvey Isaksson (b. 1975 in Harare, Zimbabwe) is one artist, curator and exhibition designer based in Stockholm. In her own artistic practice, she uses textile methods to investigate place, belonging and heritage and often works with a mix of different media, from sculpture to performance to bring out her stories. She is the founder of Southnord, a platform whose purpose is to highlight black and Afro-Nordic artists. She has also previously run Fiberspace, an arena for textile arts, crafts and design which she founded in 2015 and for which she was awarded the Dynamo Scholarship in 2022 by the Artists’ Committee and the Cathrine von Hausswolf Scholarship in the same year. She also works as a freelance curator and combines that with design assignments from various museums in Sweden, where she has designed everything from cultural history to community-oriented exhibitions.
ABOUT the exhibition
3.5% presents the artists Marcia Harvey Isaksson and Kayo Mpoyi in the fifth and final part of the exhibition series “3.5% Over Generations” which this time opens in the center of Husby. The exhibition series highlights two BIPOC* artists from different generations and lets them meet in a joint exhibition. Both Marcia Harvey Isaksson and Kayo Mpoyi are based in Stockholm and create works of art that highlight the importance of highlighting the influence, memories and stories of previous generations. 3.5% present these exhibitions in places not always associated with contemporary art, in order to reach visitors who rarely visit the traditional exhibition places of contemporary art. Our project aims for everyone to have the opportunity to participate in art life, to increase art’s presence in everyday life and not least to meet stories and lived experiences that reflect BIPOC* life in Sweden. In Husby, Marcia Harvey Isaksson and Kayo Mpoyi will show new works and hold four creative workshops for the public during the exhibition period 1 September to 1 October 2023. The exhibition is curated by Sarah Tawiah Svärd, art curator and founder of 3.5% and art curator Ulrika Flink
Kayo Mpoyi’s work in the exhibition constitutes a form of memory work through text, drawing and print. Her work makes visible the voices and stories that are hidden in family photo albums or in the silenced objects found in government archives or museum collections. Mpoyi’s artistic methods reveal new layers of knowledge and understanding in coded memory systems. By investigating the graphic print’s potential for rewriting and rewriting, Mpoyi approaches objects and sculptures through the thinking of the hand, a way to bypass colonial shadows and closed knowledge systems. Work descriptions My Father the Romantic Part 1/An Instrument for Extracting Silenced and Distorted History. A carved wooden plate (memory plate), easel, stones and a page from the artist’s father’s handwritten Swedish – tshiluba dictionary, 2023 The installation consists, among other things, of a wooden slab that the artist carved in various ways over a two-year period, both by hand and by machine. On the wooden plate there are several photographs marked, the most clearly appearing is a portrait of the artist’s father. Kayo Mpoyi has a deep fascination for memory work, and in this context the wooden plate becomes like a living biography.
The artist sees similarities with the historical lukasa, or memorial plaques, used by the Luba people. These tablets were important sources for preserving the history of the people, coded messages that only those with the right education could decode and understand. Mpoyi chooses to exhibit the wooden plate because it carries all the work carved by the hand, like traces of code, the wood becomes a living instrument that is worked over and over again. The wooden plate is in dialogue with another archival object, namely the artist’s father’s lexicon. Kayo Mpoyi was given her father’s dictionary without any keys to decipher it. The words in the dictionary have no alphabetical or thematic order, it is clear that the logic of the dictionary is protected by the father’s code. The artist has an ongoing dialogue with the code itself and continues to ask it questions just like a lukasa. Questions like: How to cure shame? The interaction of the encyclopedia and the wooden tablet points out the direction of a continued artistic investigation to understand the potential of the memory tablet as a tool. A portrait of my mother, linoleum tiles attached to fabric, ink drawing and screenprint of ink drawings on clothes hanger, 2023 A portrait of my mother is made on linoleum, which the artist carved and then attached the plate to a fabric. The artist bought the fabric when he was in the Congo to visit his mother. The fabric is industrially produced and carries the history of how wax fabric came to be a common material for clothing in West and Central Africa introduced via the Dutch East India Company who took the cloth from Indonesia to Africa as a trade commodity. In dialogue with the purchased fabric, the artist creates his own fabric and pattern disconnected from the colonial trade routes of history. The portrait of the mother comes from the artist’s family photo album, which serves as a treasure chest of personal memories, feelings and stories. In the same way that the exhibited linoleum tiles are constantly processed by the artist, this photo album is also processed like an archive to welcome new layers of memories and history. The result is an artistic investigation that gives an insight into both individual and collective lives.
Marcia Harvey Isaksson pays tribute to her foremothers in the artwork Matriarchs, Myths + Legends which she shows at the exhibition. Seven women whose destinies span six generations in her family, women who have had a decisive impact on her own life and artistic development. By exploring her own family’s stories, through weaving techniques and film, the audience is introduced to the fate of Charwe Nyakasikana Nehanda, a Zimbabwean heroine and spirit medium who played a key role in the first war of independence against the British in the late 19th century. Marcia Harvey Isaksson presents a new work that begins with her own first name, Lindiwe, which means “the one who waited”. The work reflects on one’s own existence and the purpose of life. How can one feel important and significant even when one does not fully understand one’s purpose?
ABOUT the gallery
Matriarchs, Myths + Legends, installation with irons and warp Various, approx. 4.5 x 2 m, 2021 In this weaving installation, Marcia Harvey Isaksson honors her foremothers. Each iron represents a known or unknown foremother who has paved the way for her. Weaving has been part of Harvey Isaksson’s practice for a decade now. She is fascinated by both the technical and the cultural-historical aspects and uses technology to bring out personal stories. Matriarchs, Myths + Legends is the story of seven women from six generations of the artist’s family. This epic tale blends real events with mythological stories of goddesses associated with weaving, childbirth and knowledge. Harvey Isaksson has deconstructed the loom and created a way of weaving where her body becomes part of the construction. She weighs the warp and becomes part of the fabric.
Veiled/Unveiled, photo-triptych on aluminum, 50×70 cm, 2021 10 The artist’s great-great-great-aunt, Charwe Nyakasikana Nehanda also called Mbuya Nehanda, was a spirit medium and a “chimurenga”, heroine who played an important role in the first war of independence against the British in Zimbabwe at the end of the 19th century. In 1898, Mbuya Nehanda was executed by hanging and beheading. It is said that her skull was taken to England as a war trophy. The remains are still in custody there today. Marcia Harvey Isaksson hand-woven a stretcher blanket for the remains while waiting for them to be repatriated to Zimbabwe for a dignified burial. Woven into the textile is the name Charwe Nyakasikana Nehanda. Weaving the names of foremothers has become a way to remember them and to pass on their history and name to a new generation. The stretcher blanket seen in the triptych is now kept at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe where the artist left it in safekeeping.
U-Lindiwe, Bead work, lava stone and glass, 70×100 cm, 2023 The artist’s father always entered into dialogue with his ancestors when he baptized his children. The first two sons are called Jabulani and Bongani – then he rejoiced and was grateful. The middle child and only daughter was named Lindiwe – she was expecting. As they had longed for a girl. The last two children Vumani and Thulani became sons, although there were hopes for another girl. Then he accepted and kept quiet. Being expected can fill you with performance anxiety, especially when you don’t know what it is you are expected to do. Marcia Harvey Isaksson has chosen to make a monument over her first name as a reminder that there is a greater purpose to her own and all other people’s existence.