Why Don't You Carve Other Animals

Curated with Black Chalk and Co.

May 2019

Curated with Black Chalk and Co., an artist creative agency founded by Zimbabwean artists Nontsikelelo Mutiti and Tinashe Mushakavanhu, the programme took its point of departure from Yvonne Vera’s title short story ‘Why Don’t You Carve Other Animals’. Yvonne Vera recognised the potential of the literary text to function as an important means of appropriating, inverting and challenging dominant means of representation and colonial ideologies. The programme included film screenings, keynote lectures, panels and performances.

Participants and speakers included, Emanuel Admassu, Salome Asega, Stephanie Baptist, Nora Chipaumire (film screening), Sandrine Colard, Lizania Cruz, Tsitsi Dangaremba (film screening), Tandazani Dhlakama, Miatta Kawinzi, Derek Fordjour, Mario Gooden, Zakes Mda, Paloma McGregor, Siddhartha Mitter, Richard Mudariki, Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Ayodamola Okunseinde, Kaneza Schaal, Catinca Tabacaru, Candace Thompson-Zachery, Gee Wesley, Adeze Wilford, Mabel Wilson and Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa.

The Programme

Opening Remarks: The Queen Lozikeyi Lecture

In the late 1990s, Yvonne Vera initiated the Lozikeyi Series, a unique public lecture platform for artists and intellectuals from Zimbabwe and elsewhere to share their views on knowledge production and the creative process. Lozikeyi was a powerful Queen of the Ndebele, and an important advisor to King Lobengula. 1-54 Forum curators Black Chalk & Co. (Nontsikelelo Mutiti, artist and Tinashe Mushakavanhu, writer and scholar) will introduce the 1-54 Forum programme.


Opening Spaces

“A woman writer must have an imagination that is plain stubborn, that can invent new gods and banish ineffectual ones” wrote Yvonne Vera in her anthology Opening Spaces published in 1999. Our panelists discuss ways that they have innovated on the notion of spaces for viewing and engaging with art objects and audiences. Catinca Tabacaru (Founder, Catinca Tabacaru Gallery), Stephanie Baptist (Founder and Director, Medium Tings) and Sandrine Colard (Artistic Director, 6th Edition of the Biennale de Lubumbashi) join moderator Adeze Wilford (Curatorial Assistant, The Shed).



A unique opportunity to watch award-winning film KARE KARE ZVAKO – MOTHER’S DAY(2005, 30′). Inspired by a Shona folktale and brought to film as a musical, KARE KARE ZVAKO – MOTHER’S DAY follows the fraught relationship between a mother and father as food becomes scarce in a period of drought. Directed by the renowned Zimbabwean author and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga


From the Pavement, a Gallery: curator as broker

Tandazani Dhlakama (Curator and Education Manager, Zeitz MOCAA) and Ashley James (Assistant Curator, Brooklyn Museum) are joined by moderator Amber Esseiva (Assistant Curator, Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University) in a discussion around recent projects that extend the role of the curator into the realm of community builder and collaborator.


Screening: Afro Promo #1 King Lady

Nora Chipaumire made her debut as film director in 2016 with Afro Promo #1 King Lady, commissioned by Dance for Film on Location at Montclair State University. The award-winning short film is an Afro-feminist manifesto beautifying bodies to claim the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness



Without A Name: On Living and Working Between Spaces

What are our notions of studio, home and identity in the global art world today? Artists Richard Mudariki, Miatta Kawinzi, and Lizania Cruz, will engage in a conversation drawing on their experiences of working across cultural and geographic boundaries. Panel moderated by Siddhartha Mitter (Writer)


A Treehouse in the City of Lagoons (2019)

A performative presentation by artist Wura-Natasha Ogunji. Located in a top flat of a seven-story building in Lagos, Nigeria and founded by artist Wura-Natasha Ogunji, The Treehouse is one of the city’s only art spaces dedicated solely to creative experimentation. In this performance presentation Ogunji invokes the artists and atmosphere of this dynamic place. Situated between creek and lagoon, prison and polo fields The Treehouse provides a perfect platform for thinking about how spaces, architecture, and community influence and inform how we move, feel, and imagine the world.

Milk and Moon: Black aesthetics, essentialism and futurisms

A conversation about technology and representation with Kaneza Schaal (Theatre Artist); Ayodamola Okunseinde (Artist and Interactive Designer) and Salome Asega (Artist and Researcher) moderated by Nontsikelelo Mutiti (Artist and 1-54 Forum Programme Curator). Panelists will discuss formal aspects of their work in relationship to cultural heritage, identity formation and presentation beyond the 21st century.

Salome Asega, Ayodamola Okunseinde and Kaneza Schaal, ‘Milk and Moon: Black aesthetics, essentialism and futurisms’ at 1-54 Forum New York 2019. 


To Exhibit Means to Show: the making of an artist’s book

Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa (Photographer) and Derek Fordjour (Artist), draw on their publications One Wall a Web and FORDJOUR with Gee Wesley (Co-founder and Co-director, Ulises). The presentation investigates notions of display and the role of publishing artist books from the perspective of the artist.


In the Courtyard: a space for Black art

Mario Gooden (Principal, Huff Gooden Architects), Mabel Wilson (Associate Professor of Architecture, Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation) and Emanuel Admassu (Founding Partner, AD-WO architectural practice) explore the specificity of architecture as a framing device, a marker of time and a space to hold cultural heritage, past, present and future.


Butterfly Burning: Performativity and Aesthetics

Paloma McGregor (Artist and Founding Director of Angela’s Pulse) and Candace Thompson-Zachery (Founder, Dance Caribbean Collective) speak to Nontsikelelo Mutiti (Artist and 1-54 Forum Programme Curator) on their movement practices and research, as well as their involvement in building institutions and communities that encourage artistic creativity, expression, learning, and appreciation.


The Zulus of New York

Zakes Mda (Writer, Poet and Painter) reads from his new novel The Zulus of New York(2019) with Tinashe Mushakavanhu (Writer-Scholar and 1-54 Forum Programme Curator) as respondent. The novel, based on historical events in the 1880s, follows Mpiyezintombi, a Zulu, as he is taken to England and later America as a performer.

Screening: nora

Through performance and dance, award-winning film nora (2008, 35′) follows the life of Zimbabwean dancer and choreographer Nora Chipaumire. Directed by Alla Kovgan and David Hinton


Publication Launch: Some Writers Can Give You Two Heartbeats

Nontsikelelo Mutiti and Tinashe Mushakavanhu (Founding Partners, Black Chalk & Co. and 1-54 Forum Programme Curators) discuss their recently released publication, Some Writers Can Give You Two Heartbeats (2019). This experimental publication is a thoroughly useful guide to the critical and historical texts on the literary culture of Zimbabwe. It has the advantage of being well focused on the topic and thus serves as an essential point of departure to celebrate notions of beauty as they relate to the literary and the visual, a product of Black Chalk & Co.’s preoccupation with the archive.