Kudzanai-Violet Hwami’s paintings draw upon her years growing up in Zimbabwe and South Africa to examine the ways we exist together and experience one another in an increasingly digital world. Hwami integrates visual fragments from a variety of sources in her canvases, including portraits, self-portraits, and images gleaned from the Internet. Elements repeat, as if one sees them through a family photo album or the scrolling feed of social media. Hwami’s installation for The Milk of Dreams comprises a room filled by floor-to-ceiling black-and-white vinyl photographs, each holding a single painting accompanied by an audio track. The installation is inspired by Zimbabwean sculptor Henry Munyaradzi’s (1931–1988) The Wedding of the Astronauts (1983–1994), a three-sided sculpture carved in soapstone. The work depicts a Shona wedding ceremony, with a preacher, the blessing of the birds, and the couple exploring the heavens, scenes that Hwami’s paintings mirror through the photographs she took on recent travels to Zimbabwe and South Africa and the audio she recorded at a Bira, or funeral procession ceremony in Zimbabwe. The work reflects Hwami’s investment in magical realism and Afro-Futurism, balancing Shona cosmology and Christianity, individuality and community, nature and humanity.
Kudzanai-Violet Hwami is one of the four recipients of the grant for the inaugural edition of Biennale College Arte, launched in 2021. Participation out of competition.