About Time: The Exhibition


“What makes photography a strange intervention, is that its primary raw materials are light and time”
John Berger

time |tʌɪm| noun
1 [ mass noun ] the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole…

How does one capture the meaning of Time, beyond what we read in a dictionary?

Time… Date… Duration… Era… Hour, Minute, Second…

The concept carries different meanings depending on the context; Time can be an action that points to a precise moment, a split second of a minute of an hour of a day; or it can refer to a grammatical tense, signaling now, before, or the future; or it can refer to movement. Time is also central to lens based media, which inherently capture the tension between the past and the present and serve to advance visual arguments about the particularities of a given reality.

About Time: The Exhibition will explore the complex and multifaceted relationship between images and time — historical, individual, and communal — through 8 artistic interventions that use time-based media. Inspired by Zanzibar’s rich history and cultural traditions, artists will narrate real and imagined experiences through different economies of time. The artist’s’ works address different aspects and problematics of the Zanzibari island, asking questions about how experiences with time as individual memories and shared experiences shape our sense of place and belonging. Can captured images both propagate and interrogate Zanzibar’s mystique? Will hidden truths be revealed by the moving picture on a TV screen?

The selected artists for About Time: The Exhibition use photography, film, video, and performance to construct perspectives on time that are fragmented, disjunctive, or recursive in nature, offering alternative methods of engaging histories, experiences, and desires. Taking place alongside the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF), the exhibition will offer a unique introduction to “time-based media”, presenting a nuanced array of lens-based interventions that simultaneously upend and reframe conventional interpretations of the concept of time.

By exploring cultural time through this angle, the artists demonstrate that rituals can be performed as acts of remembrance, romanticisation and even resistance. Private practices and public politics are intertwined as the artists scrutinize the contradictions and tensions between Zanzibar’s past and present, its hidden and visible histories, its relationship with colonialism, tourism and heritage, and more. In this context, About Time is an exhibition about people’s relationship to their surroundings as mediated by memories and dreams. We hope to invite people to experience Stone Town’s unique heritage from new vantage points so that they will see walls and stones not as silent statues of a long-dead past but as the shifting skeleton of a living, breathing organism alive with voices calling to be heard.

Featured artists for About Time: The Exhibition include; Amil Shivji (Tanzania, Mainland), Eric Mukalazi (Uganda), Various Henna Artists (Zanzibar), James Muriuki (Kenya), Nicholas Calvin (Tanzania, Mainland), Rehema Chachage (Tanzania, Mainland) and Shams Banji (Zanzibar). The exhibition will also feature guided heritage tours that will visit each intervention. On the opening date of the exhibition, the tours will be preceded by a masquerade designed and choreographed by Farouque Abdallah (Zanzibar). Interventions of responsive text placards that will hang around Stone Town to stimulate conversation and questions about the role of art in society.

-Rehema Chachage and Rebecca Corey.