Home of Legends by Ludwe Mgolombane, a visual artist from the Eastern Cape, is an exhibition that pays tribute to the stories and struggles of unsung legends both local and international. The genderless, ageless ceramic busts are vessels of critical meaning as their seemingly hollow and blank eyes observe the narrative of fringe legends that rotted away in urban decay.
Mgolombane’s sculpted portraits give the impression of human ruins steeped in personal histories. He is critical of the current socio-economic situation that black people find themselves trapped within.
“People as workers depend on systems like capitalism and industrialism which I don’t think really work,” says Mgolombane, “because urban development had led to an influx of people in the cities, living in shanty towns, just to get work. It was like that 100 years back and it’s still like that today.”
The exhibition’s dynamic tone is achieved by the fusion of human form with sculpted objects: for example, cogs and wheels from a car’s engine and bicycle chains decorated the crowns of each work as symbols to suggest the rationalisation of mass movement and consequential displacement.
Arguably, Mgolombane challenges our criteria of those we consider to be legendary by memorialising the courageous people of the past who ventured out into the cityscape in order to build a better life for themselves and their families.
Home of Legends is on display daily from 9pm to 5pm in the foyer of the Albany History Museum.
By Ayanda Gigaba