Lucia Nhamo (Zimbabwe)
Portrait of a Decade : Zimbabwe 1999 – 2009 (2011)
Lucia Nhamo’s videos, performances, and installations address contemporary events and question how such moments are multiply narrated, remembered, and represented, particularly as they relate to the recent history of her native Zimbabwe. The artist’s work deliberately unsettles events of political and economic power, such as the hoopla of presidential speeches, fudged elections, and military displays. Nhamo also critiques national currencies and transnational flows of capital and people by, for example, imagining the fictional airline Air Zimbabwe that transports passengers to “Nowhere” airport code : NO-WR.
Nhamo’s interrogation of history, power, and memory is evident in the video Portrait of a Decade : Zim- babwe 1999 – 2009, for it is precisely the deleterious effects of a decade of economic “troubles” on daily life that is the subject of the artist’s portrait. The video begins ironically, with President Robert Mugabe declaring on official state television, “We are not a poor country. Our history would not have been this troubled if we had been a poor country.” Over the ensuing twelve minutes, a female narrator—Nhamo’s mother—recounts the challenges of buying food, rationing, and the speed with which the Zimbabwean dollar lost value. As she speaks, Nhamo’s camera captures the banal yet laborious chores of retrieving water from a well, washing dishes, and mixing clay to patch walls. Alongside these are images of leaky buckets, scruffy chickens, and drying laundry juxtaposed with state officials who appear on national television. As the officials hem and haw and awkwardly cast votes in what would later be recognized as fraudulent elections, they emphasize the pageantry of the state they represent and the poisonous nature of its propaganda.
Born in 1988 in Harare, Zimbabwe –
Lives in Harare