Exhibition | New Shapes

“Art arises when the secret vision of the artist and the manifestation of nature agree to find new shapes.” – Kahlil Gibran

The New Shapes exhibition features the work of artists who participated in the Nafasi Academy New Shapes Thematic Residency and Lab during October – December 2021.

Nafasi Gallery Exhibition – 11 Dec 2021 – 31 January 2022


Curator’s Note

Throughout the process of making this exhibition we shared many conversations about raising new awarnesses and un-learning – two things that in some ways run counter to the way conversations around the environment tend to be held. I borrow the term new awarenesses from a facilitator of one of our sessions, Anawana Haloba (an artist and curator from Zambia), and it differs from the standard term “raising awareness” by not assuming absence. The fact that the word awareness is pluralized gives us a sense of how much knowledge already resides, so raising becomes recalling, remembering, reworking connections, methods, and skills that exist. The process of un-learning meanwhile, is merely the defiance of conditional knowledge and ways of knowing that are defined by limitation rather than possibility. 

The New Shapes project began on the premise of defining relationships critical to our understanding of the environment and through discussion and research the participating artists sought to align and articulate the presence and role of the environment in our occupations, lifestyles, learning and history. This was deepened by an 8-day residency in the Uluguru mountains in Morogoro. 

The result is a variety that succeeds in moving us beyond gestures of repair and into acts of solidarity. We see in much of this work the intricacy of defining aspects of the natural world – flowers, skies, forests, shells. We see in the reworking of natural materials by human hands not domination but a degree of communion— in the shared veneration of detail, in the layering of histories, and in collective assertions of memory and love.

Jesse Gerard