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The Map Is Not the Territory
Dan Halter

Opening day: January 26th, 2023 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm 

January 27th, – April 1st, 2023
Osart Gallery, Corso Plebisciti 12, 20129 Milano

“When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said 'Let us pray.' We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.”

― Desmond Tutu

Osart Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Dan Halter's new solo show. This exhibition marks the return of the acclaimed Zimbabwe-born artist to our Milanese gallery with a new body of work. Halter’s practice once again focuses on socio-political issues such as the phenomena of migration and geographical borders, postcolonialism, linguistics and climate change. The title of the exhibition, The Map is Not the Territory, stems from the post-colonial urgency in Africa, in particular, and global capitalism, in general, to redefine the historical concepts of land ownership, private property, wealth and land distribution.

Halter makes reference to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s 1755 essay Discourse on Inequality, which argued that the concept of land ownership led to debilitating inequality, as a point of departure to question current inequalities. South Africa, Halter’s current country of residence, is widely recognised as one of the most unequal societies in the world. The history of land acquisition has generated enormous wealth for decedents of, generally white, colonials while leaving the majority deprived and landless.

As Mark Twain once famously quipped: 'Buy land, they're not making it anymore'. The aphorism has, in many ways, rung true, as the limited amount of land on Earth has mostly been appropriated. This means that future generations will be divided between those who are born to a lineage of landowners and those who are not. In southern African countries, the issue is as contentious as ever due to the fact that the most productive land was claimed by European settlers during the colonial period, and still remains in their descendants' hands to this day.

Works like Monopoly Discourse on Inequality (2024), and An Outpost of Progress (Colonial Africa – Camo) (2024) offer a critical insight on this topic: the choice of these texts, are imposed and entwined onto the famous Monopoly board game and a camouflage map of Africa. Halter’s conceptual play of weaving iconic designs, with their reference to both colonial violence and capitalist practice, with concomitant textual critiques, creates a critical double effect. This effect is created by the visual familiarity, which is augmented and intensified by the complexity of the technique.

Another of Halter’s concerns is the crisis of climate change which is referred to in works such as The Pale Blue Dot and The Social Contract Warming Stripes. Out of the urgency of this issue emerge questions as to whether Rousseau's idea of a ‘Social Contract’ is still relevant, or if the trust that people still put in their governments is valuable. A question Halter

interrogates is just whether democratic governments are instead being replaced by big businesses; and just how this will affect the wellbeing of global society? Dan Halter work interrogates Capitalism’s profit-motive and the entropic nature of democratic systems of governance.


Dan Halter (b. 1977, Zimbabwe) currently lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa. Halter’s artistic practice is informed by his position as a Zimbabwean living in South Africa. Using materials ubiquitous to South Africa and Zimbabwe, Halter employs the language of craft and curio as a visual strategy to articulate his concerns within a fine art context. Through this, as well as through photography and video, Halter addresses notions of a dislocated national identity and the politics of post-colonial Zimbabwe within a broader African context.

Recent solo exhibitions include DNA Halter: Language is a Virus at WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town (2023), Get Out of Jail Free at WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town (2021), Money Loves Money, at Osart Gallery, Milano, Italy (2021); Plenty Sits Still, Hunger is a Wanderer at This Is No Fantasy, Melbourne and Cross the River in a Crowd at WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town in 2019. Halter has participated in numerous group shows including US at the South African National Gallery, curated by Simon Njami, Zeitgenössiche Fotokunst aus Südafrika at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (NBK), Energy Flash – The Rave Movement, MHKA (Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen), the 16th and 17th VideoBrasil (São Paulo) in 2007 and 2011, the 10th Havana Biennale in 2009, the Dakar Biennale in 2010 and Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa at Smithsonian Museum of African Art Washington DC, USA in 2013 and This is not Africa Unlearn what you have Learned at Aros Museum Denmark in 2021.

Dan Halter’s work has been included in many notable private and public collections, both locally and internationally, including: The South African National Gallery; UNISA (University of South Africa), University of Cape Town; Scheryn Art Collection, Cape Town, South Africa; SAFFCA (Southern African foundation for Contemporary Art) Collection; Artphilein Collection, Ticino, Switzerland; Pigozzi Collection, Geneva, Switzerland; the prestigious Rennie Collection, Vancouver, Canada; Foundation H Madagascar; Albright–Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Tiroche Deleon Collection, Isreal; National Gallery of Victoria, Southbank, Australia; as well as Stichting Droom en Daad, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

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