Influenced by Situationism, silent film, and by spiritual rituals practiced in South-East Africa, London based artist Samson Kambalu (b. 1975) embraces the subversive potential of non-productive time, the gift economy and the notion of playing.
Kambalu’s first solo exhibition Capsules, Mountains and Forts at Kate MacGarry continues his project Sanguinetti Breakout Area that was part of last year’s Venice Biennale. The installation at the gallery consists of re-photographed black and white photographs of members of the Situationist International (SI) group in the 1960s and texts. These are shown alongside recent court documents of a law-case against the Venice Biennale which exonerated the artist. Kambalu sourced the original photographs from the archive of the Italian Situationist Gianfranco Sanguinetti at Yale University. Sanguinetti sold his archive, which was never seen before in public, to Yale’s Beinecke Library in 2013. This stirred controversy because the Situationists’ core mission was strongly concerned with ‘Détournement’, a practise of re-appropriation and plagiarism. Kambalu presents his version of Sanguinetti’s archive in the African traditional ‘Nyau’ spirit of generosity, as a ‘gift’ to the public and as a playful continuation on the Situationists’ ideals of information sharing. Capsules, Mountains and Forts is a timely exhibition that ironically highlights the conflicting relationship between the restricted values of capital and copy-right and the resourcefulness of the gift economy in an age of digital globalisation.
Kambalu’s co-current exhibition Introduction to Nyau Cinema at the Whitechapel Gallery is inspired by early cinema and the experience of watching films as a child in Malawi. Turning the Whitechapel’s Project Galleries into a magazine spread, Kambalu projects his black and white films of visual slapstick alongside his writings.
Samson Kambalu completed a PhD in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art and won research fellowships with the Yale Centre for British Art and the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. Recent group exhibitions include the Dakar Biennale, Senegal, 2016; the Liverpool Biennial, UK, 2016; and All the World’s Futures, 56th Venice Biennale, 2015. Upcoming and recent exhibitions include Samson Kambalu: Introduction to Nyau Cinema, Whitechapel Gallery, 2016; Samson Kambalu: Nyau Cinema, NSU Art Museum, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, 2016-17; Double Feature: Nyau Cinema, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, 2015; and Sepia Rain, Stevenson Johannesburg, South Africa, 2014.
Samson Kambalu, Capsules, Mountains and Forts at Kate MacGarry. 9 September – 15 October 2016, preview Thursday 8 September, 6-8pm
Samson Kambalu: Introduction to Nyau Cinema at Whitechapel Gallery. 23 August 2016 – 8 January 2017