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Event Detail Information


Date Aug 26, 2011 - Dec 30, 2011
Time All Day
Location KAM Contemporary Gallery
Cost Free
Sponsor Krannert Art Museum
Phone 217.333.1861
Event type Exhibit
Views 40672

This project is part of a larger body of work called RECORDS, the third of Siemon Allen’s collection projects, Imaging South Africa.


The exhibition consists of a collection of recordings by South African singer Miriam Makeba together with artifacts from the history of South African music. Miriam Makeba, also known as Mama Africa, popularized African music around the world, appearing with such stars as Harry Belafonte, Dizzy Gillespie, Paul Simon, and Nina Simone. Her musical style fused American Jazz with African sounds long before the phrase “world music” was coined.


She rose from the townships of Johannesburg to become an international star after appearing in the 1959 anti-apartheid documentary film Come Back Africa, which made an enormous impression on viewers abroad. Makeba played the lead female role and became an outspoken critic of the apartheid government. Her activism resulted in her expulsion that set in motion thirty years in exile. During this time, Makeba dedicated her music to the political struggle of black South Africans under apartheid.


This exhibition explores the global movements of Makeba’s music and image through the display of record covers and artifacts. Allen charts each collected item’s travel history from the place of its original recording to the place where he acquired it. Plotting such a journey results in a complex network of exchanges that maps the political landscape of South Africa under apartheid.

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