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Ozhope Collective takes art exhibition to Lilongwe

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The Culture Lab in Lilongwe will play host to an art exhibition by Ozhope Collective which officially opens today but runs until March 18 2022.

Muti Phoya from The Culture Lab has since called on people to patronise the event starting with the launch today.

“Come and join us for a stimulating event with the artist Ella Banda,” Phoya said.

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He described Logos Open Culture, which spearheads The Culture Lab, as a Malawian start-up.

“We are storytellers and Malawi is our story. We use data, technology and research to craft and curate content on Malawi. The Culture Lab is a physical and virtual space for promoting and reflecting on Malawi,” Phoya said.

According to a statement, Ozhopé Collective’s Subaltern Speakers is a project that returns to the mortar and pestle as beautiful and potent sculptural objects for a critical, subaltern feminist politics in a racial and patriarchal capitalism that destroys the environment and renders women’s bodies vulnerable.

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The statement says the mtondo is turned into a veritable speaker from which old and new feminist songs from the Malawian society are broadcasted.

It further says that Pamtondo, in the traditional setting then, is perceived as a place where women find solace in expressing themselves and sharing matters that directly affect their quotidian life and that with the digital era in mind, the project looks to social media and other digital forums for inspiration to imagine the future Pamtondo for feminist concerns.

The project is supported by Swiss public foundation Pro Helvetia.

Ozhopé Collective was founded in 2017 and is a group comprising two artists—Ella Banda and Massa Lemu, two photo/ videographers Tavwana Chirwa and Augustine Magolowondo, and writer Emmanuel Ngwira.

Ozhopé’s collaboratively produces art that inspires conversations and invites people to critical thinking around issues that affect their everyday lives.

The group’s name derives from the word “wosopé”, a Yao term which translates to “all of them”. The word was uttered by an enthusiastic boy in reference to the artists who were busy with their work. It was subsequently adapted to “ozhopé” whose root speaks to the collective ethos that propels the group’s collaborative practice.

Previous projects by the Ozhopé Collective include Row 1 and Row 2, funded by Virginia Commonwealth University, done in collaboration with fishing communities along the lake Malawi.

This was aimed at starting discussions about the Malawi government’s decision to allow oil exploration to proceed in Lake Malawi.

More recently, a project using memes and short videos explores Covid related issues affecting Malawi, especially on Covid-19 (mis)information and the country’s response to the pandemic. WW

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