Massa Lemu

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Row (2017-ongoing)

Row consists of performances and temporary sculptures with the dugout canoes used by fishers on the shores of Lake Malawi. The performances use play to engage the lake as a space for contesting capitalism and politics, and for dealing with issues of the ecosystem. ‘Row’ plays with the ongoing wrangles about who owns what part of Lake Malawi fueled by the specter of oil speculation on the lake. Through temporary sculptures the work seeks to read the dugout canoe as text by focusing on the sedimentation of paint, plastic and tar on its body as traces of the narratives of its transformation.  The dugout canoe is read as an artefact of contemporaneity on which can be read narratives of bio and ethnography, aid, trade, consumption, exploitation and the environment. Row is also interested in the aesthetic transformations of the canoe as sculpture due to repair and also due to its exposure to the elements. The first part of the project was done in collaboration with an artist Paul Chimbwanya, a photographer Tavwana Chirwa, and the fishermen of Machemba village in Mangochi, Malawi. ​​​