Art of brother is a collective comprising of Karabo Makenna (b. 1985) and Cobus Engelbrecht (b. 1985) that focuses on multi-disciplinary ways of working. AOB creates interactive design and art through the ritual of storytelling. They describe their work as “crossing paths with the past and the present, bringing light to the unnamed space in between”.
Storytelling connects them as a collective so well, as they are from such different backgrounds. After spending a lot of time together they found that what broke the existing barriers in terms of race and culture was the fact that their stories were actually quite similar. AOB played this theme out in their first exhibition entitled ‘Myths Recreated’, where they selected two African stories, one from Ghana called Kweku Ananse and another called Selekhana and the River God, which is a folk tale from Botswana. They felt it was very important to place emphasis on selecting African stories, as storytelling in African culture has always been a part of everyday life.
They consider themselves as multi-media artists, and experiment a lot, unlimited by traditional ideas of what art is or should be. A big point of execution for them has always been to try to create visuals that people have never seen before, which is a lot harder than it sounds. As they grow and learn they are finding that everything has kinda been done before; what they try and do is to add their own experiences and expressions to their subject matter. This is what makes their work so much more original. Artists that inspire them are the likes of Athi Patra Ruga, Mohau Modisakeng, Kemang Wa Lehulere, Meleko Mokgosi, Zanele Muholi, Black Koki, Porky Hefer, Jane Alexander, Atang Tsikare, Peter Clarke, Bonnie Ntshalintshali and Nolan Dennis.
Their second exhibition “Country for Old Men” is where they explored how our forefathers represented a more ‘culturally preferred gender role’, acting out what society thought and felt a man should be. This exhibition is the act of them searching for the meeting point between the experiences of our forefathers and the present – how they live through us, and how we will live through others in the future.
This exhibition saw AOB question the old “rules of masculinity” we were taught by our forefathers, at the same time as remembering them, and figuring out what it means to be a man in the present and what that means for the future.
“Progress Preserved” is their latest exhibition and it’s through juxtaposing the strong cultural and socio-political significance of various found objects, and shifting between mediums and processes, that Art of Brother creates memories; a cultural heritage and lineage from a future African society. This body of work deals with loneliness and separation anxiety that technology and social media brings to our developing African society.
In 2018 Art of brother aspires to create more contentious visuals under new topics and subjects, and also hopes to impact on the local creative scene. Deep down they just want to be noticed for making compelling work, and lastly, to create connections with people from all over our awesome continent.
INFO: Art of Brother Website