Local expressions, travel apparel related to the woes of immigration, and maps of the African reality—which may be the outcome of plots comprised of world literature classics such as The Animal Farm, by George Orwell, money bills, or telephone books—are some of the ingredients used by the Zimbabwean artist Dan Halter.

Halter offers a dive without floats, intermediaries, or translators into the multifaceted everyday life of the black continent, by means of rereadings of popular sayings such as “Ghana must go,” which he embroiders on one of the bags used by illegal immigrants in Nigeria in the installation Bags (2008); or by the picture HIV (Henry the Fourth), produced in collaboration with HIV-positive women from Cape Town, and which refers to the nickname white Zimbabweans use to allude to the AIDS virus.

“I am not sure if I would define myself as an activist per se. I see myself as someone who highlights certain topics and leaves them open for the observer to decide how he wants to act on them, provided that he wants to,” says Halter.

The video Untitled (Zimbabwean Queen of Rave), shown at the 16th International Electronic Art Festival SESC_Videobrasil in 2007, earned him one of the artistic residency prizes granted during the event. In alternating images, the video displays young white people who dance at an open-air rave party and black youths protesting, all to the sound of the 1990s dance-music hymn Everybody’s Free (to feel good), by the Zimbabwean Rozalla. The ironic editing is a response to “a personal reality” and also to “the radical distance between whites and blacks” that the artist has witnessed throughout his life.

“Like many Zimbabweans, the means to make a living and follow a vocation are now outside the country. So his material and the focus of his work have started to expand, from within Zimbabwe to the experiences of Zimbabweans outside it,” writes South African artist and researcher Ralph Borland on Halter in his Essay.

Further info on this artist available at the collection