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The Ilizwe/Nyika/Nation Collaboration was produced in 2019 by artists at a residency held at the National Gallery of Bulawayo.
This collaboration is multidisciplinary work investigating different values and ideologies attached to land, national identity, boundaries and belonging in Southern Africa and Zimbabwe and aimed to encourage collaboration between South African and Zimbabwean artists across artistic disciplines. Land is a sensitive issue in both South Africa and Zimbabwe with both countries’ colonial histories, struggles for independence and forced removals. Land ownership and land rights are still contentious issues in the neighboring states.
Land and gender are charged topics as both countries struggle with transformation and healing from of colonialism and aparthied. The collective (mainly comprised of female artists) developed the work through a series of workshopped processes that allowed them to collectively explore histories and narratives (personal and historical) around gender and land. The group also chose to explore the historical narrative of Ndebele Queen Lozikeyi and the Ndebele people in connection to a historical site of Hillside Dam in Bulawayo. The site it said to be the location of King Lobengula’s favourite royal village to which he escaped to relax in the 19th Century and is now a National Monument (Hillside Dam Conservancy). Ilizwe is the Ndebele word for Nation and Nyika is the Shona word for Nation, both tribes are found in Zimbabwe. The Ndebele’s in the Bulawayo region have strong historical ties to the Zulu nation of South Africa.
News headlines around gender-based violence were brought into sharp focus at the time of the residency when the work was produced with the #enoughisenough protests, while at the same time xenophobic attack flared up in South Africa and the ex-president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe passed away ushering in a new political era. The approach of democratic collaboration made it possible to explore these events in relation to our topic in a sensitive manner as a group over the residency period. The first exhibition of the work took place in early 2021 at the National Gallery of Bulawayo then at the Turbine Art Fair, JHB and Supermarket Art Fair in Sweden 2021.