Helena Uambembe, In the river on the banks Captain is calling, 2024
Helena Uambembe: On the site of the Okavango
Jun 7 – Jul 28, 2024
Galerie Anton Janizewski
Berlin, Germany

The Okavango River demarcates the border between Angola and Namibia across a stretch of more than 400 kilometers. This boundary between the two countries is fortified by the thousands of crocodiles that live in the river. The uncle of Angolan-South African artist Helena Uambembe also once guarded this border. After fleeing civil war-torn Angola, he and the rest of Uambembe’s family lived on the southern side of the Okavango in what was then South West Africa as part of the 32nd Regiment of the South African Apartheid Army between the mid-1970s and the late 1980s. On his upper arm, Uncle Titto bore a quickly inked tattoo of one of the crocodiles living in the river. The swift and inconspicuous predator served as a model for his work as a soldier in the proxy war in which he became caught up over the course of Angola’s decolonization.

In her exhibition On the site of the Okavango at Galerie Anton Janizewski, the artist engages with the waters of the Okavango River and its animal inhabitants as a way of reflecting on the violent history of colonial geographies. The Okavango also intertwines the history of her own family with that of German colonialism, as it was the German Empire and Portugal that established the river as the border between the two colonial territories shortly after the 1885 Berlin Africa Conference.

Helena Uambembe: On the site of the Okavango
Jun 7 – Jul 28, 2024
Galerie Anton Janizewski
Berlin, Germany

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