Curator’s Notes: Mbira Aesthetics Art Exhibition
“Aesthetic” refers to principles guiding a particular art movement. “Mbira – Aesthetics,” is an in depth exploration of the soul, spirituality, beauty, and, African identities in their diverse manifestations. The mbira is the key with which, and the point of reference from which, we enter this exploratory world. The traditional and contemporary meet, confront and complement one another as three artists, Elsa Robinson, Zandile Masuku and Chaka Zinyemba draw from months and in some cases, years of personal experiences, reflections and conversations.
While the mbira exists in various forms across the African continent, the culture and music has been most strongly associated with the Shona people of Zimbabwe. With a history that is rich with spirituality, religion, cultural erosion during the colonial era, revitalization and now globalization, the mbira is of great importance in the history and future of Zimbabwe and people of African heritage in general. This exhibition, hopes to initiate a wider conversation about the role of the mbira in today’s global context.
Edmonton joins communities in Victoria BC, Toronto, Seattle, New York, Kagoshima in Japan, London – UK, and many more that have welcomed the mbira and given it a home outside its native country. In this context, we hope to continually build upon todays work and take this exhibition on the road and to further engage a wider and diverse audience.
Many thanks are in order to Zandile and Elsa who I have been working with on this group exhibition, Mbira Renaissance, the Edmonton Arts Council and to Latitude 53 Contemporary Art Gallery.
The background instrumentals were recorded in 2011 at Shed studios in Zimbabwe by myself and my cousin, Freemantle Nhembo.
– Chaka Zinyemba, 2014.