“New Liberia comes out of the time lag between aspects of early 20th century Malawian modernist cultures and various emancipatory social and political movements.” – Samson Kambalu
For his largest solo exhibition, Samson Kambalu’s powerful installation creates the atmosphere of an initiation ceremony for a utopia of international racial justice that equally values each person. This idea of a ‘New Liberia’ marks a mass change in attitudes, sparked by the pandemic and global Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.
Kambalu’s exhibition is also grounded in the events of his African childhood, watching makeshift cinema and Nyau dances of ancestral costumes (a secret society of the Chewa, the largest indigenous group in Malawi), and enjoying playground swaps of national flag cards, whilst living under a dictatorship that came after British colonial rule.
Drawing from three centuries of philosophy, social pioneers and Malawian culture, Kambalu’s playful exhibition balances colour, humour and intelligence. Combining video, images, texts and sculptures, the exhibition exudes what the artist has become celebrated for: his vivid imagination and outstanding creativity.
Modern Art Oxford is reopening on Friday 21 May with a Preview Party for Samson Kambalu: New Liberia.