EXPO CHICAGO | We, the people



EXPO CHICAGO | We, the people
Apr 11 – Apr 14, 2024

We, the people
April 11–14, 2024
Navy Pier

2024 marks thirty years of democracy in South Africa. Everard Read has chosen to frame our exhibitions and fair offerings this year under the banner of ‘We, the people’. The first line of the 1996 South African constitution, this phrase was borrowed from the 1955 Freedom Charter and originally mid-wifed in the preamble to the constitution of the United States of America.

At a time of universally dwindling democracy, rampant polarisation and increased demoralisation, our ambition is to encourage reflective conversations around agency, inclusivity, multiplicity and community. We celebrate and reassert the hard-won freedom of expression as a cornerstone of South African democracy, as well as the artist’s crucial role as citizen and cultural practitioner in evolving conversations and narratives in the vibrant, volatile and versatile country.

Artists featured in our EXPO CHICAGO presentation will be:

Githan Coopoo, Ricky Dyaloyi, Thonton Kabeya, Teresa Kutala Firmino, Lady Skollie, Speelman Mahlangu, Warren Maroon, Gerhard Marx, Nandipha Mntambo, Daniel 'Kgomo ' Morolong, Nigel Mullins, Brett Murray, Blessing Ngobeni, Mmakgabo Helen Sebidi, Brett Charles Seiler, Tafadzwa Tega and Atang Tshikare.

Everard Read has invited a select group of our leading and emerging artists to present outstanding examples of their practice. The scope of proposed works includes a variety of media, from bronze, ceramic and paintings, to photography and installation. As a country whose very constitution celebrates our diversity, the selected artworks operate in a range of historical, political, and cultural contexts – highlighting each artist’s, and each citizen’s, right to self-determination, and to question or challenge the powers which shapes our lives.

The layered work of award-winning Blessing Ngobeni (b.1985) interrogates the consequences of betraying democratic ideals, the failure to learn from historical tragedies, and the expanding gap between the rich and poor. Photographer Daniel ‘Kgomo’ Morolong (1928 – 2012) celebrates moments of Black joy under the cruel thumb of the apartheid government. Teresa Kutala Firmino (b. 1993) compiles images, using paint and collage, which embody the strength, trauma, magic, humour and humiliation of Black women in her family. Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner Lady Skollie (b. 1987) uses her graphic art to fill the gaps left in history by oppression. She creates a mythological realm where the San, Khoi, Griqua, and all Brown people on the Southern tip of Africa, have bloomed without being interrupted by colonialism and forgetting. Githan Coopoo and Brett Charles Seiler (both b. 1994) situate themselves as queer artists in a country whose constitution promises protection but whose lived realities have to be negotiated.

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