Jun 2021 - August 2022
Proverbs in Africa have been handed across the generations, used to illustrate ideas, support arguments, and covey messages of ethics, inspiration, consolation and advice. To deliver concise and powerful messages, proverbs embody a rich variety of visual images and as such, beyond being integral to language to this day, proverbs in many African cultures inspire textile designs. Imprinting the aphorisms in clothing echoes the message, particularly when it originates in a person of high social standing, but it is also particularly effective in situations where the interlocutor, due to cultural barriers and social hierarchies, is limited in his ability to express his thoughts and views.
The exhibition Emrot - let your clothing do the talking offers a narrow and partial glimpse into the richness of the word spoken and visually represented across Africa, but it also illustrates how the language of proverbs is a way of gaining familiarity with and understanding the spiritual world and social climate in African societies. In that, it demonstrates the truth behind the words of great contemporary Nigerian author Chinua Achebe: “Proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten”.