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Kapwani Kiwanga: The Sand Recalls the Moon’s Shadow

September 17 - December 19, 2021
The Moody Center for the Arts
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Paris-based, multidisciplinary artist Kapwani Kiwanga (b. 1978, Hamilton, Canada) investigates ways in which organic materials can carry cultural meanings and serve as archives of past human experience. Often informed by her studies in anthropology, Kiwanga’s works emerge from rigorous research in history, geology and other disciplines. Through installation, photography, video, and performance, she encourages viewers to unravel the intricate ties between the materials she uses and the political chronicles, societal behaviors, and economic struggles they represent.   

Kapwani Kiwanga: The Sand Recalls the Moon’s Shadow, the artist’s first solo exhibition in Houston, consists of two new site-specific installations and a video work. Focusing on aspects of two nations’ economies—the instrumental role the cultivation of sisal played in Tanzania’s independence and the impact of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Texas—the installations, Maya-Bantu and Dune, reflect on processes of extraction and the exploitation of natural resources. Alongside these monumental commissions, the video piece Vumbi underscores the importance of human care for the environment, while concurrently grappling with nature’s inexorable forces.

The artist’s installations for the Moody recontextualize sisal, hung in a style echoing the way the fiber is left to dry on East African plantations, and silica sand, an essential material in the fracking process. Juxtaposing distant geographies, these two immersive environments eschew a linear narrative in favor of alternative understandings of economic and political realities. Reconsidering mining and agricultural practices, or simply encouraging care for one’s natural surroundings, The Sand Recalls the Moon’s Shadow focuses on human interaction with the landscape on both a micro- and macroscopic scale. Seen through the three poetic works of this exhibition, social and natural histories morph, multiply, and haunt the present, revealing new perspectives on the past that can be collectively used to imagine a better future. 

Kapwani Kiwanga: The Sand Recalls the Moon’s Shadow is curated by Ylinka Barotto, Associate Curator, Moody Center for the Arts.

With special thanks to Rae Atkinson, Master of Architecture student at Rice University, for exhibition design support; to Rebecca González-Van Wart, Rice ’22, for Spanish translations; and to Julia Fisher, Student Assistant, Rice '21 for curatorial support.

This exhibition is made possible by the Moody Center for the Arts Founder’s Circle and the Elizabeth Lee Moody Excellence Fund for the Arts. Additional support is provided by the Texas Commission on the Arts.

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