‘Ungayithenga inhlizyo mongo wami - African curios’ (You can buy my heart and my soul)

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© Courtesy of Royal Museum for Central Africa
‘Ungayithenga inhlizyo mongo wami - African curios’ (You can buy my heart and my soul)

Leuvensesteenweg 13
3080 Tervuren
October 4th, 2007 - September 25th, 2011

(+32) 02 769 52 11
Tuesday through Friday : from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday & Sunday : from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
installation, sculpture


The elephant embodies the world’s romantic relationship with Africa. It is also a part of the colonial panacea: wildness can be contained, observed, studied, purchased and taken back to the ballrooms of the first world as a savage trophy.

The elephant also happens to be the largest living land based mammal. The expansion of our modernity, civilisation, threatens the existence of this animal. Our inability to coexist with other living organisms is also implicated in this metaphor of the artwork. It means our intelligence is intolerant.

It is important that this work was made up from recycled wood / trees. There are 14 different wood types in this work that was sourced from the city of Durban in Kwa Zulu Natal, recycled from deceased and fallen trees. Trees are the lungs of our world and are threatened by our expanding industrial and capitalist landscape.

You can buy my heart and my soul’ literally means that everything we have that is precious, is now subject to the willing buyer and willing seller. Both are implicit in defining the tragedy of the post colony and the history that has preceded it. The dynamic of the willing buyer and seller persists into the present and underpins the social and political identity of the postcolonial.

The work meditates on the nature of power and the mutual responsibilities attached to this and the vision we have of our future shared humanity.