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Reflecting Yugoslav- Namibian relations through art

2021-05-21  Paheja Siririka

Reflecting Yugoslav- Namibian relations through art
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Two local visual artists who have their artwork displayed in Belgrade, Serbia and Namibia said more collaborations are needed for their exposure to international audiences, and for them to learn from others.

Michelle Isaak and Kim Modise were part of 21 artists who showcased pieces at the exhibition titled ‘Reflect - Namibia after 30 years of Independence’. The exhibition was held at the National Art Gallery of Namibia (NAGN) in Windhoek, and is still on in the Museum of African Art (MAA) in Belgrade. The two established cultural institutions started their collaboration during the Afro Festival 2019 in Belgrade when a NAGN team visited that museum and the capital of Serbia, former Yugoslavia. 

This follows the efforts of Draga Bošković, a spouse of Honorary Consul of Namibia in Serbia, Vasilije Bošković, the Serbian museum and the NAGN. Its precise purpose is to celebrate Namibian independence and to present Namibian history, cultural memory, art and contemporary life to the public of this geographically very far, but culturally and historically not so far country.

Isaak, a mixed-media artist, turns trash into treasure, and she applies the 3D approach that sees her using newspapers, then transforming and elevating it to cupboards. Her work in Belgrade is titled ‘If Walls Could Talk’. She told VIBEZ!: “Growing up, I was an introvert, always on my own, and with this piece I wanted to share my experiences as a loner. This prompted me to do the piece, which was eventually chosen to represent the country in Belgrade. 

I can confidently say I have grown out of it now, and I can mix and mingle,” she said.

Isaak added that it is rare for upcoming artists to have their works displayed at such platforms, and hopes more collaborations will follow as more awareness needs to be created to promote the importance of art.

“I feel Namibians are not well aware or don’t understand art yet. People don’t have a good understanding. 

More collaborations are needed, where artists go beyond the borders, get training and come back and educate locals about the significance of the trade. Exposure from outside is needed,” she emphasised.

On his part, Modise said he was ecstatic and happy to witness the amount of work and dedication put into the exhibition.  “I saw my work, and the interaction around it. That’s now an international exhibition. It’s an overwhelming feeling, and this supports us the artists and the nation at large,” he observed.


2021-05-21  Paheja Siririka

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