Crossing Over is a solo exhibition by João Ladeira, featuring mixed media works installed on the ground floor of Eclectica Contemporary’s building. Working mostly with brightly coloured Dutch wax fabric that have become ubiquitous across many African countries, Ladiera’s works reflect on these surfaces that have become a contemporary symbol of African attire and textiles and the bodies that exist amongst and in relation to their relating histories.
The exhibition aims to contribute meaningfully to discourse on the displacement of people and social cohesion. Based both in empirical research within academic contexts as well as his own lived experience as a refugee and social research through storytelling with those around him, many questions are embedded in Ladeira’s practice. For the past nineteen years, he has worked on issues affecting the migration of people around the African continent. Through his work, he points to the discord that prevails on the continent by representing the fraught journeys that many are forced to embark on in search of safety. Of this body of work, he explains, “my current works narrates the tragedy of migrants on the Mediterranean Sea, or what I see as a spiritual journey undertaken by many young Africans in pursue of a better life”. Concurrently, his works celebrate the originality, cultural wealth and artistic diversity of the African continent and offers lingering questions we have yet to answer: how do we heal Africa’s woundedness and restore our humanity? How do we save our people from poverty, war, hunger, slavery, displacement and disease?
The spread of the bodies across the exhibition appears as repetition, asking viewers to reflect on the desensitization that occurs in response to the feed of stories that stream through news platforms and political debates. The use of multimedia is deliberate and has to do with the fact that as an art form, it includes different properties that comes together to create one body of work. Using a combination of drawing, collage and paintings, the works in Crossing Over each consist of overpainting on canvas or wax fabric. By overpainting and mixing textiles, there is an interplay between replicable nature of printed fabric with the unique mark-making of Ladeira’s painting.