Internationally acclaimed artist, Mohau Modisakeng, detained after assaulting a woman at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport last week
Last week Tuesday, internationally acclaimed artist, Mohau Modisakeng, was seen physically assaulting and tearing-up the passport of a female companion at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.
Returning from a trip to Zanzibar, the pair allegedly fell into a verbal disagreement, which quickly turned violent. The police were called in, and Modisakeng was detained. His female companion boarded an SAA flight and returned to Johannesburg.
Attorney Sabeeha Moolla said in a statement that, “Mr Modisakeng has confirmed that an argument ensued, but unequivocally denies all allegations of abuse in this regard.”
Mohau Modisakeng, still from Passage, 2017. Epson Hot Press Natural, 150 x 200 cm, Edition of 6.
Mohau Modisakeng last year represented South Africa at the prestigious Venice Biennale, and has won numerous awards for his work. Examining the influence of South Africa’s violent history on how we understand and navigate our cultural, political and social roles in post-colonial Africa, and in particular post-apartheid South Africa, Modisakeng uses material, metaphor and the black body as tools in his attempt to portray this violence.
According to an article published on Channel24 and written by Charl Blignaut, four prominent art figures have come forward about “outbursts of anger and verbal abuse from Modisakeng at exhibitions around the world.”
He is also accused of reducing workers and colleagues at the South African pavilion in Venice to tears.
The third ‘recent’ incident of male figures in the South African art world accused of abusive behaviour – after Zwelethu Mthethwa and Mark Coetzee – it will be interesting to see whether Modisakeng will continue to have a successful career.
Ellen Agnew is a writer on ART AFRICA’s editorial team.