Strange Fruit encompasses Barthélémy Toguo's solo exhibition at Stevenson Johannesburg, and Urban Requiem, the installation comprising wooden stamps and woodblock prints that he showed as part of All the World's Futures at the 56th Venice Biennale. Toguo's exhibition takes its title from the song by Billie Holiday, itself an adaptation of Abel Meeropol's poem Bitter Fruit, which speaks of the lynching of two African-American men in Marion, Indiana, in 1930. In his accompanying essay 'Barthélémy Toguo's Strange Fruit and Our "Mimetic Desire" for an Other', Lwandile Fikeni points out that a third man narrowly escaped the lynching, and that the story of his life completes the picture of that fateful night and gives insight into Toguo's work 'which is filled with brutality, pain and suffering alongside hope for humanity and the possibility of freedom'. Fikeni argues for refusing 'easy categorisations of human beings, to reject the expedient binary of good and evil, and to critically refute racialised and gendered forms of moral authority, especially in this post-woke, post-Black Lives Matter era'. In writing on Toguo's work, he says, he does so 'in order to set the scene that best captures and complicates the nature and slant of this exhibition'.
Published by Stevenson | Catalogue 87, December 2016
Softcover, 44 pages | Price: R180