OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, October 26, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
1708 Gallery presents He Who Gave Us Teeth Should Give You Art to See: A Patois Bourgeois P.arty Manifesto, an exhibition by Massa Lemu.
It is election season in Lemu’s home country, Malawi. This is the time when the elites, whom Lemu calls the patois bourgeoisie, finally descend from their ivory towers and get busy in the dirt in campaigns for the people’s votes. The incumbents in power seek to renew their tenure, while other aspirants fight for their turn.
He Who Gave Us Teeth Should Give You Art to See: A Patois Bourgeois Party Manifesto will simulate a postcolonial election campaign platform for the Patois Bourgeois P.arty. Extending from his project “Patois Bourgeois Minor Portraits” the title plays with the words ‘petty’ and ‘patois’; the label alludes to the idea of the postcolonial bourgeoisie as a hybrid product of Western and African values. The installation is comprised of the requisite, preposterous, and necessary accoutrements of the political promotional performance. Grandiose and absurd sculptural elements critique the vulnerable persona of the political elite. As an activity of decolonization, Lemu both ratifies and undermines the already unstable election process.
Massa Lemu is a Malawian artist and writer whose multi-disciplinary practice features text, performance and installations. Lemu is currently assistant professor of sculpture in the Department of Sculpture and Extended Media at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.