Negritude Republic

UK/SOUTH AFRICA
Producer/Curator

 

 

 

Negritude Republic
South Block
30th Oct- 13 Nov 2014
Artist: Modise Sepeng

 

Negritude Republic is an ideological movement driven by South African-born, Johannesburg-based, designer/illustrator/photographer/art director, Modise Sepeng aka BlackDice. BlackDice’s creativity stems from the cultural ideology of Afrocentrism; elevating messages of Black Consciousness, rooted in a (re)discovery of the authentic self. His work aims to draw attention to his own African heritage using symbolic references of liberation heroes like Steve Biko and Madiba.

The Black Consciousness Movement was a grassroots anti-Apartheid activist movement that emerged in South Africa in the mid-1960s out of the political vacuum created by the jailing and banning of the African National Congress and Pan Africanist Congress leadership in 1960. The Black Consciousness Movement represented a social movement for political consciousness and sits behind the Négritude movement founded in France in the 1920s.

The young African students who coined the term la Négritude and developed its theories in Paris in the 1920s were not the first to question the assumptions of European Enlightenment thought, but they were perhaps some of the first to give a public voice to its contradictions. Today, however, authentic African storytelling through digital media is increasingly accessible, and furthermore, counters stereotypical imagery created by the West. If this ideology is now re-examined using a postcolonial frame, how does it’s legacy influence future directions in African thought?

Afrocentricity is a curious exploration of identity at this time considering the large African contemporary diaspora communities around the world today. Black consciousness, however, is imperative for those same reasons. There are approximately 82,000,000 Africans in diaspora, a figure that has more than tripled since 2007. If we consider Afrocentricity as an ideology largely concerned with cultural paradigm, how does the movement of Africans outside the continent impact on cultural traits such as language, education, religion, and psychological processing? Over centuries, the definition of ‘African’ has been defined from a Eurocentric perspective which embedded skin colour as a foremost characteristic. According to renowned author M. K. Asante, anyone who suffered from European exclusion based on skin colour, and whose life is based on a culture other than his/her own, or who has participated in the five-hundred year resistance to European domination of the African continent, is an African.

BlackDice’s work explores a significant time in South Africa’s history. In 1994, South Africa became democratic. 20 years on, South Africa is still arguably a divided country. This work reflects on the transitional process for South Africans and the need to create their identity through their own experiences and stories.

He comments: “We are in the midst of a growing examination of ourselves as Africans, living in a modern, connected and technological world. As Africans, we find ourselves in a unique environment – holding onto traditional values whilst embracing our modernity. This is a youthful principle, and the youth are leading the change, incorporating African values with worldly attitudes, combining our spirit with optimism and excitement.
As we remember the past, we turn boldly towards the future. As we explore new possibilities, we call on our ancestors for guidance and protection. The two are, and forever will be, connected.”

BlackDice has a distinguished aesthetic to his work, mixing notions of traditional South African tribal themes with masculine African portraits and illustrated typography. Each piece nods to a new movement in pan-Africanism and punk-rock fused with pop art and hip-hop.

 

Photography by Beth Chalmers

 

 



Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.