Rochester Contemporary Art Center
Meleko Mokgosi (b. 1981, Botswana) makes figurative paintings that fit together to form “chapters” in large installations that suggest stories or narratives. This exhibition is the first time the chapters of Mokgosi’s project Pax Kaffraria are being exhibited together.
Pax Kaffraria depicts the history of a fictional African nation. It features founding myths and legends of national triumph. An agrarian culture develops into an industrial power and modern society. Flags wave, leaders command, and the pomp and circumstance are televised for viewers who choose to watch the events from the comfort of their homes. There are references to shared values and prosperity—and to attendant threats of possible future decline.
Allegories of national lore are present in structure and spirit, but an actual and coherent history of a nation is ultimately impossible to construct from the parts. Upon close viewing and reflection, the details of Mokgosi’s paintings are implausible and confusing. This is a fabricated history.
Pax Kaffraria is a complex and enigmatic response to the southern African postcolonial experience, with special focus on the rise of African nationalist movements since the late 1950s. These movements grew out of the struggle of the black people in many African countries for independence from their European colonizers.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.