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Tracing Obsolescence
Public Program - NYC
Artist’s Talk: Dana Whabira in conversation with M. Neelika Jayawardane

Thursday, September 6, 2018, 6:30 - 8:00 pm

ICI Curatorial Hub
401 Broadway, Suite 1620, NYC


In anticipation of the occasion of the opening of Tracing Obsolescence, artist Dana Whabira discusses her artistic practice with writer M. Neelika Jayawardane and curator Evelyn Owen.

This event is free and open to the public.

Dana Whabira, Nobody's Thing, 2018, Documentation of work in progress.
Dana Whabira’s research-based spatial practice incorporates found materials from across Zimbabwe that are embedded with personal, economic, and historical significance. In her work, cultural materials and socio-political sites are researched, archived, negated, reversed, affirmed, and transformed in an attempt to question both colonial and personal constructs. Revisiting the physical and cultural landscape, she recontextualizes meaning and narrative beyond binaries that have been pre-inscribed by controlling power structures.

In recent work, Whabira has used discarded dress forms, the last vestiges of Zimbabwe’s declining clothing industry, to explore alienated labor in the nexus of global migration, capitalism, and crises. These abandoned objects point to the rise of automation and the consequent fall of machinery, technology, and people that have become redundant or terminated.




Dana Whabira is a Zimbabwean artist who lives and works in Harare. An architect by training, she studied art and design at Central Saint Martin’s College in London (2011). Whabira’s first solo exhibition “Suspended in Animation” was held at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe (2013) and she has participated in group shows in Johannesburg (2015), Pretoria (2015), and Harare (2012), in addition to taking up art residencies and giving talks locally and internationally. She represented Zimbabwe at the 57th Venice Biennale (2017) and participated at the Dak’Art Biennale (2018). Whabira is the founder of Njelele Art Station, an urban laboratory in downtown Harare that focuses on contemporary, experimental, and public art practice.

M. Neelika Jayawardane is Associate Professor of English at the State University of New York-Oswego, and a Research Associate at the Visual Identities in Art and Design (VIAD), University of Johannesburg (South Africa). She is a recipient of the 2018 Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant for a book project on the Afrapix, a South African photographers’ agency that operated during the last decade of apartheid. She was a founding member of the online magazine, Africa is a Country. Along with academic publications, her writing is featured in Al Jazeera English, Transition, Aperture, Contemporary&, Contemporary Practices: Visual Art from the Middle East, and Even Magazine.

apexart’s program supporters past and present include The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Buhl Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Greenwich Collection Ltd., William Talbott Hillman Foundation/Affirmation Arts Fund, the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, the Fifth Floor Foundation, the Consulate General of Israel in New York, the Kenneth A. Cowin Foundation, the Trust for Mutual Understanding, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
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