“Globalisto. A Philosophy in Flux considers alternatives where there is agency”
with Lukhanyo Mdingi
Research, service, transparency, collaboration, community and materiality. These are the pillars governing Lukhanyo Mdingi’s practice as a fashion designer. Recipient of the 2021 Karl Lagerfeld LVMH Prize and a United Nations Ethical Fashion Initiative Alumni, Mdingi’s exhibition recently opened at THE FOURTH in Cape Town. Titled The Provenance, Part I and featured in this week’s Artist Of Interest, we look at the impact of having access to the designer’s process.
A naturalised means to regulate movement into and out of regions, passports, visas and borders didn’t always exist. Tasked with maintaining peace after the First World War, the League of Nations championed the idea of a worldwide passport to restore the freedom of movement people had before the war. First introduced as a temporary means, the document seems to be a cemented staple when movement is discussed. While traveling in and out of South Africa over the years, Mo Laudi has found himself fixated on this global limitation of movement. “I’m always fascinated with how people travel and how when arriving in certain destinations, there is policing. We have the resources but the resources have been extracted from us, synthesised and validated elsewhere. We know the extractive history, yet our navigation remains limited.”
Informed by the Black Consciousness Movement, ubuntu and the failings of post-apart transitionalism, Mo Laudi invited artists to invent new, connected, aware and empathetic worlds that more than acknowledging African and diasporic experiences centralise them.
Opening the exhibition with Gerard Sekoto’s Song of the Pick depicting a line of Africans labouring in the foreground while a white man supervises them in the background. Although this could be read as reflecting the social reality of labour and inequality, in Globalisto. A Philosophy in Flux lies an alternative reading. With his khaki co-ord camouflaging into the grounds he stands on, the white foreman almost disappears. In contrast, the labouring subjects maintain a powerful physical presence.
During our conversation Mo Laudi acknowledges witnessing a shift in who and where the world looks to in search of the contemporary standard in the last few years. World renowned musicians, across regions and genres, are making their contributions towards genres like Afrobeats and Amapiano, both originating from the African continent. Then African practitioners working in fashion and contemporary visual art are lauded as leading the day’s zeitgeist.
While some may argue that this shift is the genesis of the above mentioned desired worlds, Mo Laudi is wary of resting in this. “We have been influential for centuries. It’s happened with the raw materials, the resources, precious stones and metals, the bodies and voices. It’s been happening,” he explains, sighing.
Exhibited in France at the Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, perhaps Globalisto. A Philosophy in Flux is more an invitation for so-called first world regions to adopt radical hospitality as a means to restore the agency that ought to have come with Africa and its diaspora being the source of sources.
Globalisto. A Philosophy in Flux closes on 16 October 2022.