February - March 2021 — Music
Zimbabwean audiovisual artist Joshua Chiundiza has been selected by Embassy of Foreign Artists to take part in an artist in residence programme from February to March 2021 with the focus Art and Citizenship: Looking at the world with a critical eye (the residency was originally planned to take place mid-year 2020 but was postponed due to the global pandemic). Joshua analyses Zimbabwean music and audio recordings in his work to explore the archiving and telling of Zimbabwe’s social and political history via sound and music performance and installation. His sound mostly focuses on traditional and contemporary Zimbabwean music styles, mbira, jit, chimurenga and sungura music, fusing these elements with electronic music production and performance art.
During his residency, Joshua will develop a project titled Fathers of the Nation which interrogates the patriarchy and paternalism that defines the leadership of Zimbabwe and other African countries. Joshua explains, “the title ‘Father of the Nation’ is often used, and in many cases abused, as reference to elderly political leaders on the African continent.” In Zimbabwean Shona culture as well as many other African cultures, reverence and respect for one’s elders is a fundamental traditional value instilled from a very young age. This cultural mode is frequently manipulated however, particularly by men, who hold position of power and authority in communities or whole countries. Joshua explains that “many of Africa’s leaders are old and this command, or demand for respect, is an angle that is defining and shaping leadership in Zimbabwe and on the continent. This patriarchal stance has and continues to formulate suppressive and unprogressive methods of leadership in Zimbabwean society, methods that have had a detrimental effect on the country’s young population.”
Joshua says that in Zimbabwe, the patriarchal legacy of ex-leader Robert Mugabe continues to shape the leadership of today, where political rhetoric is above critique and politicians refuse to be held accountable for their actions. In Fathers of the Nation, Joshua aims to highlight the hypocrisy of African leaders who manipulate cultural modes for personal gains. “They want honour and respect for what they say but not what they do, They want honour and respect for their status but ignore the responsibility that comes with it,” Joshua argues. “It is such thinking that is still shaping and defining Zimbabwean politics and leadership across the board; men (‘Fathers of the Nation’) who demand reverence and respect for their words and position, but not their actions.”
During his residency Joshua is planning a Fathers of the Nation installation that will interrogate this notion of the ‘father’ figure. He plans to recreate a traditional Shona family sitting space which emphasis the father-child dynamic with the father at the centre of the scene and the women and children seated below and around to listen to him speak. His sound performance will mix together sourced soundbites, images and visuals of Mugabe and other African leaders with original compositions with electronic and traditional instruments.
Joshua lives and works in Harare, Zimbabwe. His work explores the sonic, visual, spiritual and social aspects of his Chewa, Shona and Nguni heritage, taking on the form of music/sound recordings and performances, video art and performance art installation. He is also co-founder of The Monkey Nuts, an experimental art collective also based in Harare. As a musician, Joshua has performed alongside renowned artists like De La Soul, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Akala and The Avener. He co-produced on The Monkey Nuts’ experimental album ‘Boombap Idiophonics’, a collaboration with Marseille’s legendary underground producer, DJ and sound designer DJ Oil from France.The album was released on the famed UK indie label BBE Records (2014). In 2018 he was an artist-in-residence at the Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Residency in Johannesburg, producing work, a sound and performance art installation titled ‘Bones and Dual Tones‘, exhibited at the Wits University Point of Order project space, work which was also then selected to be a part of the ‘Digital Imaginaries: Africas in Production’ exhibition at the ZKM Center of Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany (2018/2019).