CANADA: Artist brings a piece of Zimbabwe to Art Gallery of Burlington

CANADA: Artist brings a piece of Zimbabwe to Art Gallery of Burlington

By Chris Arnold

Toronto-based artist Chiedza Pasipandoya is bringing a piece of their home country of Zimbabwe to Burlington. 

A room at the Art Gallery of Burlington has been transformed into the outdoors with dirt and ceramics that mimic Pasipandoya’s home. The exhibit, called Ndafunga Dande (Thoughts of Home), opened earlier this week. 

“I have lived in Canada for so long, when I go home there’s this duality I experience being Zimbabwean and Canadian,” Pasipandoya says. “In my work, I like to explore the sustenance and nourishment I get when I go home.”

Wires hold bowls to the ceiling that are filled with small ceramic foods made from ingredients from both countries. Rose petals and lemon rinds, among other things, are smoked into the clay during the firing process to infuse them with memories of home. 

The exhibit is a full sensory experience as well, as Pasipandoya spent months recording sounds from nature and daily life. An hour-long loop plays at the exhibit to further the sense of being transported. 

“A lot of time in my daily life I’m recording field sounds,” Pasipandoya says. “I’ll come across something I hear, birds or drums or anything, and I’ll just record it quickly.” 

Pasipandoya added that audio is a unique thing to capture, and they consider it to be less invasive than a photograph. Audio lends itself to an identity and agency, and gives the subject – human or not – more of a chance to tell their story. 

“I asked if I could record stuff after dinner, when we’d still be together playing music, playing drums,” Pasipandoya says. “I would just record the moments. The exhibit is a composite of the sounds with the clay.”

The audio is not a tour or explanation of the art, but meant to be experienced alongside the exhibit itself. 

A few of the pieces in the exhibit were made during Pasipandoya’s residency at the AGB. The support, resources and staff at AGB made for a more collaborative experience, and a more public experience that Pasipandoya is used to. 

“It was amazing to be making art in such a public way, when I’m so used to being in the studio by myself,” Pasipandoya says. “I think that tied into the idea of Thoughts of Home, the collective is a part of the process, and speaks to the contrast and tension between the collective experience and the individual experience.”

The collective and the individual is a theme explored throughout the exhibit, and one that Pasipandoya experienced during the move from Zimbabwe to Canada. 

Back home, there was more emphasis on community and inter-generational spaces, while in Canada, Pasipandoya finds individualistic tendencies tend to take over. 

“In this work, I’m reflecting on the collective and the individual,” Pasipandoya says. “There are some works that are in a cluster, and some off to the side.”

Thoughts of Home is open at the Art Gallery of Burlington until January 7, 2024. 

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