Gerald Machona

Federico Fellini was right: “All art is autobiographical.” A case in point
is that of Gerald Machona, named in 2011 by Business Day and the
Johannesburg Art Fair as one of the top 10 young artists practising in South
Africa today. The xenophobic attacks that swept through the country in 2008
had a profound influence on the Zimbabwean-born visual and performance
artist. At the time, Machona was studying at the Michaelis School of Fine Arts
in Cape Town and had been exploring issues of migration, and the attacks
amplified the importance of that endeavour. Working with decommissioned
Zimbabwean dollars, his oeuvre thoughtfully engages with “concepts of
foreignness and alienation experienced by African foreign nationals”. He has
participated in a number of group exhibitions and, for his master’s degree
at Rhodes University, constructed a space suit out of Zim dollars. “The suit
is a metaphor, communicating my own difficulties in adapting to the foreign
terrain that is South Africa,” he says. — Bongani Kona