NATIONAL Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo is set to open its doors to the visual arts community and the public on November 30 following an eight-month closure due to the global COVID-19-induced lockdown.
BY SHARON SIBINDI
The gallery that has been closed since March 30 as a precautionary measure against the spread of the coronavirus, will open with three exhibitions that will run until year-end and spill into the first quarter of next year.
In an interview with NewsDay Life & Style yesterday, the gallery director Butholezwe Nyathi said they had dedicated the last eight months to carry out renovations such that they are delighted to present an extensively revamped space as they reopen.
“While the coronavirus continues to linger in our community, we have instituted a range of measures to protect our staff, artists and all valued stakeholders. While closed to the public, the gallery migrated to digital platforms to continue fulfilling its mandate of holding exhibitions of works of art and also encouraging interest in art,” he said.
“Of note is that we produced a virtual tour of two exhibitions that were running at the time the gallery shut down. Our regular Bulawayo Conversations were also conducted online.”
Nyathi said as a revamped gallery they now operate on a solar power system and have installed a disability ramp.
“The interior and exterior of the gallery has been repainted, with new roofing and ceiling sheets mounted in sections of the gallery. Our prime exhibition spaces have new floors and lighting systems,” he said.
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“In our quest to support the performing arts, we have erected a stage in the car park area. We express gratitude to the Embassies of Australia and Switzerland for making this work possible.”
He said the first exhibition, Dreams and Realities, which was initially meant to open in April, interrogated the contemporary meaning of Zimbabwe’s independence. “Comprising mostly young artists, the Dreams and Realities, group exhibition, will open on November 30. It gives divergent interpretations of what 40 years of independence means to them,” he said.
“The second exhibition, Retrospective Revelations that will also open on November 30 showcases artworks from the gallery’s permanent collection. These are a range of works whose original meaning still finds resonance in contemporary society. The exhibition reflects on modern society through a historical lens.”
Nyathi said the third exhibition, which would be launched on December 3, PowerPlay was a group exhibition featuring artists working in the digital media, moving image and technology. “Co-commissioned by London-based Arebyte Gallery and the National Gallery in Bulawayo, PowerPlay will be the gallery’s first full-scale digital arts exhibition. It foregrounds the digital art scene in Africa and presents work by digital artists who are from or based in Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom,” he said.
“The works address isolation and alienation, societal bias around gender and race, transformation of being, the politics of borders and migration, dark markets of trade, and communities that work outside of the mainstream economy.
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