“ghosts” – opening at muti gallery in one hour!

Ralph Ziman‘s much-anticipated exhibition, “GHOSTS”,  opens in Cape Town at the MUTI GALLERY tonight (24 April 2014). For more information contact Guto Bussab on +27(0)21 465 3351.

ghosts

GHOSTS examines the consequences of international gun trade in Africa while questioning our uncomfortable fetishism and worship for deadly weapons.

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“Do you love your guns? YEAH! God? YEAH! Government? F*** YEAH!!” So sings Marilyn Manson of America’s rabid obsession with ballistic, religious and political weapons of mass destruction.

While America has its God and its government – and certainly no shortage of guns – it is from a handful of Africa’s most volatile nations whence any form of “god” has fled and whose anarcho-fascist kleptocracies reduce just about any notion of “government” to a brutal, bloody farce.

Ziman may have made America his home but it is the continent of his birth upon which his dark, disturbing vision continues to fall. 

“GHOSTS” confronts the complex socioeconomic and political circumstances of the African arms trade – a multinational, multibillion-dollar industry that moves in one direction only – into Africa.

Ziman spent six months collaborating with African artisans to produce wool garments and beaded replicas of the iconic AK-47 used in the series. 

“They have lived around crime and violence both in their adoptive South Africa and their native Zimbabwe,” Ziman says. “There is a sadness about the pictures—a loneliness and distance.”

Ziman’s work challenges the tragic cliché of our times: a war torn, violent Africa of militant and corrupt dictators, child soldiers, and unceasing civil wars fed by a growing international arms-trade. 

For him, the series is a platform to discuss the corruption, greed and influence of foreign world superpowers who, eager for a stake in Africa’s abundant natural resources, provide weapons to dictatorial governments in trade, and often to opposing factions as well, ensuring a perpetual cycle of war for generations.

Ziman is a South African artist currently living and working in Los Angeles. He is the director of hundreds of music videos for superstars ranging from Ozzy Osbourne to Michael Jackson, and held the reigns as writer/director/producer for Hearts and Minds that premiered at the Berlin and Montreal Film Festivals, as well as Jerusalema, South Africa’s official entry to the 2008 Academy Award Foreign Language section.

Ziman is also well-known in the U.S. for his public art in Venice and is currently working on a private commission in Santa Monica.

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elvis presley – make the world go away (take 1 and take 3)

An undubbed outtake from the June 1970 recording sessions for Elvis Country (I’m 10,000 Years Old), released as part of a rerelease of the album (Follow That Dream, 2008).  

I’m not a fan of Elvis in general – I mostly find his delivery way too glib. But in this session I can hear his fragility… I can hear he feels what he is singing deeply, and he would give anything to get the glibness back.

I was just thinking that it’s a common trajectory that an artist starts out passionate and edgy, becoming increasingly jaded, cynical and safe post-40 (anyone been keeping half an eye on Bob Dylan lately?). I think it was the other way round for Elvis, which is why he eventually imploded. I think something similar happened to Michael Jackson. They stopped believing in their own illusions, and it killed them.