Christianity, supernatural through Maphutse's eyes

In her latest solo exhibition Mmamoloi, Moloi, Mamoloyi, Ba Re Wa Loya: F**k Your Fake Ass History, visual artist Malebona Maphutse interrogates the sensitive issue of African spirituality and inter-connectedness.

The exhibition opened on March 28 at the Bag Factory Artists' Studios in Johannesburg.

Born in 1994, Maphutse acknowledges the demonisation of African traditional beliefs and spiritual practices stemming from colonial frameworks.

The exhibition looks at the crossovers between these two seemingly different structures of existence.

Maphutse, who completed her BA (Fine Arts) degree at Wits University two years ago, presents art lovers with striking and controversial subjects.

She interrogates how Christianity, culture, traditional healing and witchcraft connect to each other.

She works on canvas, sculptural installations, linocut, digital prints and video.

Both place a heavy reliance on the presence of the supernatural, and both offer spiritual guidance, healing and possibilities of a better life.

In her work, Maphutse tries to juxtapose the three to question their role in the society.

Through the exhibition, she acknowledges that there is a fine line between traditional healing and witchcraft, which sometimes confuses people.

In a country where Christianity role has been distorted and misinterpreted, the issue of traditional healing and witchcraft would easily be misunderstood.

She looks at how indigenous African faith systems have been wrongly labelled voodoo, or witchcraft. Sometimes they tend to be associated with darkness, animal and human sacrifices, violence and general backwardness.

The increasing number of different people who claim to heal different ailments and sometimes performing miracles has inspired Maphutse to look into the subject.

In her statement, she explains that the exhibition seeks to point out that certain narratives are pushed forward to change people's mind.

"The concept of witchcraft stems from a demonisation of traditional beliefs and customs. There has been a taboo around what African spiritual and traditional practices represent.

"This exhibition draws from premise of religious syncretism to realise the links, crossovers and realistic manifestation as re-enactments of both belief and lifestyle."

She explains that both belief systems have a space in which the supernatural is present and power to achieve the impossible of those who believe and desperately need spiritual guidance, healing and possibilities.

Last year, Maphutse landed a Bag Factory Young Female Artist Residency.

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