By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha
INNOCENT Fungurani, aka, Answer, who is pioneering digital art in Zimbabwe revealed that he is on a mission to put the country on the global arts map.
Fungurani (23), who recently showcased his digital works at the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) in an exhibition titled “Beyond Boundaries” said that his art is merely a dialect to communicate issues of social significance.
The works he exhibited were extracts from an ambitious journal project that he is currently working on entitled, “Superstition.” His works have a surreal, avant-garde, experimental and an almost dreamy metaphysical quality that speak in a way that language cannot convey.
Fungurani, who is a volunteer art teacher at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, said that he has always had a fascination for computers from a young age and always sought for ways to be creative around them using the most basic software.
“I define digital art as any art which is created through the medium of technology be it cellphones, digital cameras or computer webcams. I find this really fascinating because computing systems are fast becoming more accessible, cheaper and efficient in Zimbabwe,” said Fungurani is also a spoken word poet and painter.
Fungurani revealed that he is inspired by everything around him, including the urban vibe, people, architecture and public spaces, culture and language.
“I believe my generation of digital artists is one of many that will emerge out of Zimbabwe. Digital art has greater potential to influence society because many of our spaces are becoming computerized. People also have the need to consume art is the same way that they consume commands at work,” he said
The artist, who was awarded the top poetry prize for the US Public Affairs’ Black History Month poetry slam, said that art for him has been a process of constant evolution towards self-knowledge.
“I was first fascinated by language until I felt that I needed to find other forms of expression to convey ideas that language could not easily express. Due to the some social taboos around language, I felt limited to express on issues such as sexuality, politics and religion,” he said.
“That is how I discovered that images could portray controversial ideas is a more effective way, and communicate to a larger number of people, including the illiterate.”
As a result of this realization, Fungurani said he took to painting and colour before he discovered the field of computerized art.
Fungurani has already made a significant mark on the arts scene in Zimbabwe through highly, innovative projects that have involved many merging young artists. In 2009, he co-founded Kreative Activists Overturning Society (KAOS) with hip hop poetess and filmmaker, Cynthia Marangwanda.
As part of his social contribution, Fungurani said his organization is currently planning a major festival of alternative arts expression that will be held early next year.
“Zimbabwe has been starved of alternative voices; society has become dependent on state and corporate media, yet these are mouth pieces of the rich and powerful. That’s why KAOS will hold a festival dedicated to alternative forms of expression. We are working to create a platform to show case different dynamic and radical art forms,” he said.