nora chipaumire’s groundbreaking approach to movement stretches beyond the formalistic: the renowned artist refers to dance as an “animist technology,” a means of discovering the sentience of the physical body. Drawing from decades of experience as a choreographer, as well as her own biography witnessing the independence of Rhodesia—now Zimbabwe—chipaumire seeks to move beyond a diagnosis of the colonial body, instead demanding a “prognosis” or a path forward. chipaumire’s practice unapologetically calls for justice and freedom, driven by a desire for new forms of world-making.
From August to October 2021, Callie’s will host nora chipaumire’s first solo exhibition. afternow is provoked by the spirit of Nehanda, a global pandemic, and “the desire to occupy white cubes, black boxes, grand operas, open vistas, clubs, digital freeways, and stadiums.” Taking its title as a response to today’s most pressing question—What now?—afternow rescues the artifacts of past works, resisting the obsolescence of live events, allowing the remnants of “underperforming works” to provoke and agitate liveness once again.
The centerpiece of the exhibition is soundshitsystem, a monumental speaker system designed by Ari Marcopoulos, Kara Walker, and constructed by Matt Jackson Studio. Frequently used by chipaumire in live performances for the triptych #PUNK 100%POP *N!GGA, the mountainous soundshitsystem is installed at Callie’s to play NEHANDA, a new radio opera written and produced by chipaumire during her residency at Callie’s in the winter of 2020 to 2021.
The protagonist of the radio opera and the exhibition is Nehanda, a spirit venerated by the Shona people native to Zimbabwe and central Mozambique. Nehanda inhabits women; in the late 19th century, Nehanda’s medium was Charwe Nyakasikana, a revolutionary leader who orchestrated the 1890’s uprisings against British colonists. Upon capture, she was brutally executed. The installation features architectural elements that reference travel and the transient nature of oral storytelling.
“Long distances are the way of now,” chipaumire narrates in the first episode of NEHANDA, calling for a revival of the medium of radio operas and plays. Beginning with the sound of thunder, and ranging between formal, courtroom settings, singing, and celebrations of “weightlessness and buoyancy,” NEHANDA is unwavering in its commitment to thinking through and rupturing the official archive to create new mythologies and potentialities. Each episode, which ranges from 8 to 50 minutes in length, interrogates the relationship between history, art, liberation, and its narration.
NEHANDA will be broadcast on Fridays and Saturdays from 14:00 to 18:00. The radio opera has a running time of over four hours; registered visitors may enter the installation at any point during the duration of the opera, from 14:00 to 18:00. To visit the exhibition, please register online in advance; spontaneous registration on-site is also possible; admission is free.