Churchill Madikida


Churchill Madikida   Churchill Madikida



I was born in Umtata in the Eastern Cape, and grew up in the same region in a small town called Butterworth. I am the oldest of five siblings, two brothers and two sisters. I passed my high school in 1990 but due to financial constraints could not continue with my tertiary education at the time. I worked as a cleaner, teaboy, and then as a salesman for a clothing department store and I was retrenched after four years.
In 1997, after some time without employment, I decided to go back to school and I enrolled to redo my matric at the Visual Arts and Crafts Academy in Johannersburg. In 1998 I was accepted at the Fine Arts Department at Wits University to persue my studies for a junior Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, which I completed in 2001. Currently I am doing my Masters in Fine Arts at Wits University. During my years as a student I have had the opportunity to visit countries like Sweden and France on student exchange and museum internship programmes.

In my art I try to focus more on histories, such as my history as an individual and as part of groups, such as my Xhosa ethnic identity, South African nationality, and of my global identity. In the past, I have been using different mediums such as drawing, painting, sculpture, and printmaking in trying to address my themes (recently I have also incorporated performance pieces).

My art is autobiographical and deals with my Xhosa and South African heritage as a form of positive identity and self-imagery, but it is also directed to the public at large so that people may learn about my culture. I reject some people's confinement through censorship that restricts our choices of representation. Through my art I aim to make societies understand themselves, risk self-examination, address issues, attitudes, and behaviors, and finally I aim to make those societies challenge themselves to be open to change.

I grew up being taught a very narrow, one-sided version of our South African history, an inaccurate, boring apartheid myth that excluded my ancestors. With my art I choose to reclaim the past, to explore my history and to work as a storyteller telling about our past, present, and future. Through visual representations, I connect the past to the present. It is my way of knowing what I know, a way to uncover how, where, and why I learned it, and a way to unlearn it. I think that in a society that preaches democracy and multiculturalism, it is important to have an art that expresses and illustrates diverse perspectives, even if it means producing controversial visual images that some people might not like.

I would like to believe that my culture is not interested in converting other people to our culture and belief system, but I think that its contribution to the human society in sharing its philosophies, ideas, and value systems is very significant. I belong to a group of artists who are critical and while crossing boundaries, change themselves, their art, and contribute to changing others' perceptions, imaginations, and visions of the world. I am not so naive as to think that one artist and his artworks can change the whole world, but it can be safely argued that art can contribute to the discussions and debates about issues that lead to certain changes in world perceptions about certain issues.

Churchill Madikida