A recently opened exhibition in Bulawayo considers the impact of how social media is assisting users of this technology who are employing it to redefine themselves.

The “Profile pic – Alter ego”, exhibition presented by the House of Menka, an arts trust, is curated by talented young artist, Tafadzwa Gwetai, who was part of the Zimbabwe contingent to the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015.

The exhibition, which is running at the National Gallery in Bulawayo until February 2017, was officially opened by Rashid Jogee.

Rashid Jogee is one of the local living arts legends who resides in Bulawayo. He has always been a trend setter in the arts from pre-independence up to the present. He is looked at as a big brother and a leader in the expressionist and abstract forms of art in Zimbabwe.

Tafadzwa Gwetai says he came up with concept of the “Profile pic – alter ego” after observing and being part of a sub-culture of technological development.

“My fascination with the idea of the “Profile pic” increased with the realisation that there is a new contemporary platform to express and communicate. Platforms such as Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook and whole list of online communication applications have a designated area that is provided for people to represent themselves. The idea is to provide an image or symbol that represents the owner of the account,” he explains.

Gwetai’s observations showed that people are becoming more creative and artistic with the way that they are re-inventing themselves or expressing their states of mind.

“As an artist I found these qualities to be very similar to that of painters, sculptors, poets and musicians. We create an art work with the agenda of communicating something or with the aim of arousing emotions or thoughts,” he says.

“The average person has become very strategic — like an artist does — and can upload a profile picture that depicts their mood or an image that makes the viewer stop and reflect. In certain social media there is a comment space reserved for the viewers’ thoughts and even like and share icons for a response.”

Artists create so as to prompt conversations on certain topics and this was the quality that initiated the steps that resulted in Gwetai curating the exhibition “Profile pic – Alter ego”.

He identified a few artists from Bulawayo and Harare to participate and interpret further their perspectives from the theme “Profile Pic – Alter ego”.




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