States of the Arts



by Miriro Mwandiambira
Mixed media

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Miriro Mwandiambira creates a glowing gradient of the colour spectrum, formed from acrylics, orange through to blue. Rather than deriving tones from plastic paints, though, the artist mixes her hues using artificial nails. The wave of pigment forms a rippling rectangle, each concave curve overlapping with the next, caked into a single textural entity. Pasted to a collaged background with dextrous precision, the salvaged talons are preserved from the chips and tears of the real world. Snagged within the frame, the nails are no longer affixed to hands, yet still embellish the handiwork of their maker.

Words by Elizabeth Brown


directed by Godwin Mawuru
Feature film

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Ambuya sits by a campfire, an attentive child on either side, as she begins to tell a story. Driving at night, Patrick recounts the same tale, with his brother providing an older and markedly less sober audience. The yarn is unravelled by Ambuya and Patrick in turn, the camera darting between them. Its common thread is a farmer, who returns home after time away. His wife, working tirelessly in his absence, has earned the family a small fortune. While Ambuya stresses the necessity for mutual respect and affection, Patrick poignantly accepts that he owes everything to his beloved spouse.

Words by Hugh Maloney

The House of Hunger

by Dambudzo Marechera
Short story collection

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The House of Hunger explores the wounds of colonialisation. It takes as its subject the environment where the narrator grew up, where even the flies ‘buzz the Hallelujah Chorus’. Pushing at the limits of the novella and short story forms, the book employs the English language of the oppressor as a means of self-expression. The prose is turned against itself, subverted, and distorted; Marechera once referred to English as a ‘form of combat’, used to create ‘gas ovens of limitless black resonance’. Our protagonist often seems on the verge of surrender but always pushes on, even if his hunger can never be sated.

Words by Lewis Coenen-Rowe

Talking Mbira: Voice of Liberation

by Stella Chiweshe

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The mbira is a handheld, metal ‘thumb piano’ that originated in Southeast Africa, and Stella Chiweshe is one of its leading players. Historically, the instrument is linked to rites of passage and spirit possession ceremonies. On Talking Mbira, it is synthesised with more experimental tendencies, including electronics and an eclectic ensemble. The sparse, reflective sound of the improvisatory opening track ‘Ndbaiwa’ is swept aside by the exuberant ‘Chachimurenga’, which features bass guitar and a host of studio effects.  Written in response to Zimbabwe’s political troubles, the album is a rallying cry for both spiritual and social liberation.

Words by Lewis Coenen-Rowe

More to discover

Untitled (Miriro Mwandiambira): You can view more images of Miriro Mwandiambira's artworks on the First Floor Harare gallery website. Andrew Moyo has written about the artist for The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe).

Neria: You can view the trailer here, watch the full film here, and listen to the title song (by Oliver Mtukudzi) here. Beti Ellerson has interviewed Tsitsi Dangarembga, the film's story writer, for openDemocracy.

The House of Hunger: Articles about Dambudzo Marechera and/or The House of Hunger available online include those by April McCallum for The Culture Trip, Drew Johnson for The Rumpus, Chris Power for The Guardian, and Helon Habila for Virginia Quarterly (VQR).

Talking Mbira: You can listen to 'Chachimurenga' here.

Question of the day

Which Zimbabwean artworks would you recommend, and why?
Let us know on Facebook, Patreon, or Twitter.

Flame, a film directed by Ingrid Sinclair. Female guerrillas that fought for Zimbabwean independence are honoured in this challenging, controversial interpretation of their adversity. (→)

– Hugh Maloney, Silent Frame Sub-Editor (via Patreon →)

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