Visual and Performance Artist

Gerald Machona

Federico Fellini was right: “All art is autobiographical.” A case in point is that of Gerald Machona, named in 2011 by Business Day and the Johannesburg Art Fair as one of the top 10 young artists practising in South Africa today. The xenophobic attacks that swept through the country in 2008 had a profound influence on the Zimbabwean-born visual and performance artist. At the time, Machona was studying at the Michaelis School of Fine Arts in Cape Town and had been exploring issues of migration, and the attacks amplified the importance of that endeavour. Working with decommissioned Zimbabwean dollars, his oeuvre thoughtfully engages with “concepts of foreignness and alienation experienced by African foreign nationals”. He has participated in a number of group exhibitions and, for his master’s degree at Rhodes University, constructed a space suit out of Zim dollars. “The suit is a metaphor, communicating my own difficulties in adapting to the foreign terrain that is South Africa,” he says.

— Bongani Kona