A gathering of the diaspora at LANA 2023.

Salim Djefari “Koulolounisation”(Circa 2023)

The Institute for Creative Arts hosted their bi annual event over the weekend of the 16 -19 February 2023. Based at the University of Cape Town the wing formerly known as GIPCA, the multidisciplinary institute. organised their performance gathering. This year was also an opportunity to launch the Live Arts Network Africa website. Under the directorship of professor Jay Pather and academic Refilwe Nkomo, the gathering featured artist from Africa and the diaspora with performers and theatre practioners from Algeria, Morocco, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa.

Concerning the website the plans Jay Pather revealed that they want to make it interactive with the audience and cater for different languages with its themes related to feminism, memory, history and health. Audience members will suggest a performance artist, the goal being to expand the network with the these strategies. Since it is interactive it will also have an educational element, teaching people who are not exposed to different forms of performance art. Ritual, transgression and presence being forms that are prominent and the hope is to utilise the website for not just networking, but to connect with festivals and awards like the FNB prize here in South Africa. It will be launched in August this year.

Some of the works and performances in the gathering featured South African mutlidisciplinary artists and partners Simon Wood and Dr. Meghna Singh. Their video piece “Container, was staged in conjunction with as a site sepcific work p “In the Wake” a facet of the Gathering. The video is experienced with VR goggles was placed at Clifton 2 because this site is historically relevant due it being the site of a shipwreck during the colonial era. “Container” was also shown at the 78th Venice Biennale and the Tribeca Film Festival 2022. Another South African artist who performed during the gathering Qondiswa James, her work “Retch”.

Bernard Akoi Jackson has been performing since 2006, and held a residency at Stedelijk Studies in the early 2000’s. His work interrogates borders and beauracratic thresholds. The work has overt political overtones, the artist creates fictitious countries but uses traditional beauracratic strategies in a performance that compels the audience to participate. He also had audience members driven to different historic sites around Cape Town with the instruction to come back with information that stands out. Titled “Destinations – with anthem for the union…and where, from birth, would they have berthed, should a dearth of destinations have prevailed “. The work interogates movement and boundaries in urban settings through the logic of political beauracracy.

Algerian born and Belgium based artist Salim Djaferi performed his piece titled “Koulounisation” about the impact of colonial language on culture and the psyche. It is an experimental theatre piece that interogates the historic erasure that has ensued in previously colonised countries and the inevitable isolation individuals experience in the diaspora. “Boujloud: Man of Skins” is another experimental theatre piece by Moroccan artist Kenza Berrada. This powerful and emotionally wrought piece explores the impact of sexual abuse in African families. Told using a ritual Boujloud, a time when men wear sheep skin in honour of this mythological figure. Berrada’s work is poetic with a minimalists narrative structure unlike a traditional piece. Using visual elements like Vidoe, poetry and body movement.

The gathering also featured discussions about visibility and dissemination in relation to performance art. A discussion between Khanysile Mbongwa and Mlomdi Zondi took place on Friday the 17th around issues related to festivals and writing about this art form. Kenza Berrada, Qondiswa James and Nelisiwe Xaba held a discussion about their processes to create their works. This was in the spirit of multidisciplinary that anchors ICA in an intense day and evening of performances and talks. After their talk the audience made its way to Salim Djaferi. The gathering addresses issues of dissemination and exposure for artists in the diaspora. Running alongside the commercial Cape Town Art Fair it is a fresh alternative and perspective on the variety of art that the vibrant community in South Africa has to offer.

Kavula’s Soft Landing at Smac

South African artist Bonolo Kavula had an exhibition titled “Soft Landing” at Smac. The exhibition comprised of delicate painstaking bead pieces that express intergenerational relationships in the artist’s family. Kavula’s work is overtly feminine, emphasising the tangibility of her threads as the substance of familial relationships. It will be demonstrated in the article that the threads of her work are symbolic of singpost in the hidden meaning of the relationship with the women in her family. It will also demonstrate how the threads of the works were about the convergence of personal, intellectual and historic contexts through the art. The overall themes of the exhibition were anchored by intertextuality. What this has help her achieve in the exhibition is how the personal is a signpost for the convergence and confluence inherent in history and personal narratives of black women.

An example of this delicate thread is demonstrted in the piece titled “Tshenelo”. Four to five rows of thread droop like pearls or beads attached to a whole frame. The work has a minimalist impact that implies how delicate memories are. Relying on the symbolic function of the threads and strategy of giving the titles of the works people’s names, that which is sentimental and emotional has a peripheral role in relation to the intellectualism suggested by the use of the threads. Sentiments and emotions imply immediate tangibility where intellectualism implies a sense of longevity in relation to the relationships she has had with the women in her family.

Inspired by the death of her mother and the family heirloom she inherited, the works reference a feminism that seeks to intellectualise personal pain. The sensuous nature of the works imbue the exhibition with the proper subject and material to deal with pain. Like the piece titled “Naledi” threads dominate the top end of the work with the rest of the work drooping lines of fabric like a unfinished table cloth. This piece speaks to the necessary precesion that permeates the exhibition. It embodies the strategy of conscious and deliberate choices that intellectual and past relationships can be characterised by. Like the way she connects her mother’s loss to the feminism cannon in the video that is also exhibited in the exhibition.

The video titled”May I” was a multilayered piece utilising a Miriam Makeba interview and aLisa Steele” 1982 art video. Intertextuality plays a significant role in this exhibition, taking what is personal,historic and literary as a visual marker for contextualising her art and her family in relation to feminism. Some of the images of the threaded fabric from the show can also be discerned. The effect is a visual and sonic representation of the continuation and constant convergence of the personal and artistic place Kavula is in as a black woman artist. Feminist reference provided another form of what is familial as universal and feminine, together with the image of the threads, represent another conscious and deliberate choice this time about intellectual growth and artistic guidance.

The piece titled “Pono” also speaks to the measure of amalagamated contexts. The piece is divided into areas that converge and are seperate simultaneously. This change in colour effect is consistent with the themes of the exhibition of converging contexts. One area is green with pink and red threads the other is mostly red and pink and seems to connect with the other section. The open space on the middle of the work speaks to the immediate voids that characterise personal relationships. Not only does she reference what is historic, she makes an abstract statement about how connections are lost and render stagnant intergenerational inheritance. Kavula compensated for this historic void between women of colour by utilising aspects of her mother’s dress as inspiration.

The work titled “I was mixing my blood with water” also utilised a space between the threads. A rectangular piece with a pink red finish also speaks to strategy of converging contexts. As the title suggests the work is symbolic of how conscious and deliberate action not only has impact for the present, but for what is exhautable as well. The title also speaks to a sense of cleansing in a context where convergence is characteristic. Kavula dealt with personal subjects in an deliberate measure in order to emphasize not just catharsis, but also her intellectual and artistic growth. Unlike other pieces that have an unfinished impact, “I was mixing my blood with water” is a closed and formal piece.

Whether this strategy is to emphasize movement or flow, in relation to the open ended works or piece that might seem unfinished,is that it enabled a reading of the exhibition to be viewed from different contexts. Her work in the collective, her personal journey and it’s signposts and influence from feminists writers and artists helped her create works that demonstrate that converging context suggest healing. Kavula’s work has a sensual and delicate impact, but it also feels tangible. This does not represent a contradiction in the work, rather it is the impact of an artist who understands how confluence and influence in an intellectual measure are made of different threads on the same string.
The show closed in late January 2023.

“Tshenelo” 2022. Courtesy of Ocular.

Coveting a didactic covenant with Kimathi Mafafo

South African artist Kimathi Mafafo had an exhibition at the Ebony Curated Gallery in their Cape Town space. Titled “Kgalogano- A Covenant” saw the artist work evolved from her sensual and delicate representation of women in natural settings filled with deep green foliage and stylised fabric impact that drape the scene and the individual represented in the piece. In this exhibition the works have a choreographed element that saw incorporate more than one character in her scenes. Finished with the impact of a mosaic this article will demonstrate how embroidery speaks to the substance of feminine relationships and that the painstaking means to execute these works is symbolic of intellectual and intangible collapse of these relationships. Mafafo places the feminine in an overtly symbolic relation with nature. This results in the intangible nature of human relationships mirroring the tenuous relationship we have with nature. It will also be demonstrated that embroidery is imbued with the ambiguity of intangibility, collapse and form.

This is mostly expressed in the piece titled “Maikarabelo- Responsibility” two women reading a book together an aspect that is new in her work. This sharing of knowledge also mirrors how the substance of relationships is characterised by collapse or temporaneity. The finished aspect in embroidery is characterised by a lack of frame in traditional settings. Mafafo gives her works form in order to express a narrative and a measure of shared power. Embroidery is characterised by a back and forth movement when being created. This measure is extended between the narrative in the piece. Her works resound with a sensual aspect, what these does is imbued the narrative with a sense of shared or reciprocal power.

These motifs can also be discerned in the work titled “Bothlale Jwa Ngwana boswa Mosading”, two women characterize this piece as well. Depth and foreground are symbiotic through the fabric. The character adorned with an orange dress is interssected by background embroidery, the other showing her back. Another aspect that characterize the substance of relationship is humility. These two women embody this, the title translate to English ‘the knowledge of the child comes from the mother’. Mafafo again places the symbolic location of the feminine in tenuous intellectual paradigm. She expressed the intellectual relevance of delicacy and what is sensual. This work has the effect of a photograph, it is sentimental and nostalgic. Emotion renders relationships tenuous and the intellectual element to conceive with the palpability of a cultural paradigm embodied in the relationship a mother has with her daughter for example.

The piece titled “Maitemogelo – Self realization from experience” is piece that expresses the aspect of beauty as intellectual facility. Focusing on the face of the character, her pink lips and dramatic but gentle eyes render this portrait like work with a measure of internal intellectual narrative. Mafafo’s characterisation enables the audience to focus on the means she utilises to connect the background of the work with the foreground. This she achieves through the people she represents in her work. This way the symbolic function of the feminine is both intellectual and becomes an extension of nature. By this I mean a piece relies on the presence of a human in order for the reciprocity between subject and content or context to symbiotic. Since beauty is an existential facility, Mafafo characters and work elevates it to a paradigm through the symbolic function of reciprocity and the implied collapse that characterize the substance of relationships.

The art of embroidery also relies on this reciprocity that is characterised by formless collapse. The work “Khutso- State of Serenity II” emphasize the operation of represented deiclacy in the work. The finished impact of the embroidery gives an illusory effect as if she is laying her head on a bed of flowers. Her eyes are closed a strategy that internalises the existential drama of the intellectual aspect. Mafafo’s exhibition is about coming of age without being instructive just like it is sensual without being too revealing. With this piece she achieves the intelligence of realising that even closed eyes also reveal what is internal. With this piece she reveals the substance of serenity, this echoes the use of the lace fabric in her previous exhibitions. A strategy that demonstrates that means of covering are revealing.

Mafafo created a collection in which she has a didactic stance without being too parental this way she shows the power invested in reciprocal relationships. She showed that they have inherent substance that emanates from an internal source. Through the choice of her medium she also demonstrated that she is conscious of the measure of this substance to collapse in the intellectual space. By emphasing reciprocity she makes the audience conscious of the propensity of relationships to collapse even at the context of manifestation.

Kimathhi Mafafo “Khutso – State of Serenity II”. Circa 2022

Chulumanco and his instructions at Ebony Curated

Cape Town based artist Chulumanco Feni had an exhibition at the Ebony Curated Cape Town exhibition space. Titled “Imilyalelo” or in English ‘instructions’ is an exhibition about the historic weight that childhood memories and social values can confer on an individual. It will be demonstrated that what is sentimental is imbued with a retrospective mystique that enables objects to be imbued with historic meaning and a narrative of form in the context of the exhibition.

This is reflected in the work titled “umthwalo” a young man sitting on a chair carrying a bag and groceries in the process of standing up consistent with the strategy of movement that motif the exhibition. His characters are depicted in isolated booth or contained in transparent rectangle boxes. This piece echoes the sentiments of values that can be instilled by chores. The character is facing down, as if he is in a gesture humility. Male deferral is a mark of dignity for the parent who passes down instructions in African homes, this teems with this emotion. The piece “Wimpy Homes” articulates this sense of pride through hygiene practise. A make figure with a blackened face as if to render him anonymous is doing laundry with his hands. What might look like a submissive context in the situation where a parent or grandaprent intervenes one role in the home becomes accentuated. These works with their deep earthy brown colours seek to make this sentiment rooted in an African aesthetic.

The piece “Iindaba Zakusasa” another young man is depicted on a kitchen chair a newspaper held up to his face. The abstract context Chulumanco captures his characters in and the realism strategy to affect his works enable a texture related to memories. In this piece the mustard background and red and black ground create an impression of an evolved personality. The characters in the exhibition are the artist sibling and himself, this exhibition is around the sentiments of home as a coming of age facility. The artist has finished the wirks with a rather informal impact, the sense of personal growth comes to function as energy in the context of the exhibition.

The most abstract piece is titled “Amagqbi osapho” which is a piece that is depicted with pot plant with small tree in it surrounded by the rectangle encasement. The latent image of a family tree imbues the context of the exhibition with an image of sucession and also a connection to what is universal. The pot plant is placed on an orange rug finished with colour and Tudor aesthetic pattern as is traditional in a South African urban home. That cube that the artist encases his scenes in imbues the realism strategy with historic and personal connotations. This aesthetic is traditionally invested in what is sentimental but also it is invested in the narrative of repetition or mimicry. Chulumanco relies on the symbolic implications of this strategy, rendering it abstract and palpable, while capturing encased portions of his memories.

“Deep Thoughts” is comprised of a character in an encased rectangle at the bottom of a staircase sitting with a pensive and contemplative gesture. This space has the illusory effect two kinds of walls joined together. As if two kinds of energy are fusing. The artist related the urban pressure of his background to have didactic related conversations both about family life and communal life. The male being the subject of the memory also infuses the sentiments in this exhibition where this facet of family life is also an instruction. In the context of the exhibition this facet assumes a measure of realisation, even if its through the uncertainty of remembering.

The piece titled “Disciplined Family” captures the familial motif with the strategy of depicting his characters in a shared space. The grandmother is also expressed in her regal and dignified posture on the living room furniture. One of the males is doing laundry and the other busy with another chore. Instead of drawing out the layout of the home, he connects them through their symbolic spaces. This strategy not only affects the status of the home it also renders it organic or given. This exhibition is warm and heartfelt, it is a imbued with the honesty that remembering makes the relationship we have with memories tenuous. The artist has given a sentiment or feeling on canvas that is rooted in his artistic and familial development.

The exhibition closed on 29th of October.

Healing and Femininity with Siwani

South African artist Buhlebezwe Siwani recent body of work interrogates the historical and spiritual location of women in the postcolonial context of southern Africa. Similar to Mary Sibande she works with women bodies to invert the discouse of submission and powerlesness. Executed through video instillation and photography, titled “AmaHobo”, ” Amakhosi” and “Insimi yase Eden” first exhibited at What if the world Gallery in 2018, it was also featured in the South African National Gallery just before its forced temporary closure. This article will demonstrate how Siwani’s work is invested with personal triumph and individual expression in order to subvert tradititional perceptions of women in context of African spiritual practises and Christianity. Utilising the geographic expanse of the country of south Africa to affect cosmological concerns she places women at the apex of creativity in terms of how human establish a relationship with the earth or soil.

For example the artist travelled before the opening of the exhibition to four provinces making the work in relationship with the landscape, infrastructure and the people. In the Western Cape she went to the wine lands region this way the work created a context in which pragmatism and historic economic conditions of the labor in that region can be incorporated in the work. Siwani’s work permeates with latent aspects of collective and individual healing, with women in the “AmaHubo” video picking the grapes themselves, not only affects the symbolic harvest they represent the act is a procession of healing and catharsis. The poem in the video speaks of the desire of the women to be ‘appeased’, in the sense that their pain cannot be identified but can be placated. Sound and soundtrack trace a measure of repetitiveness interlaced with Fossilsoul’s poem in the background.

In another video titled “Eziko” which translates to English as “on the hearth” or “on the stove” the motif of woman as institution or national and historic instrument continues its latent presence. In one image she is wearing a long white dress traditional to women who practise African Christian spirituality, hens surround the hem of the dress. The image’s impact is as if she is the hearth with which progress is symbolic to, past and history intersect in the location or province the video is made. This way what is cosmic is not invested in the personal or political, it is also demonstrated to be imbued with essence. The image of the woman as shrine not only speaks to the essense of spiritual practises, it speaks to a language of seclusion that relies on the presence of women in the context of the city and building of a nation.

In the initial exhibition the video where shown with multiple interlaced projections, emphasising the aspect of interlinked cosmologies and interlinked geographies. Unlike Mary Sibande who incorporates ancestral aspects in her work,Siwani only has to invoke historic and economic implications. The discourse of women as a crucial cog in spiritual practises reiterates the aspect of a spiritual economy that requires women to be silent but needs their presence. Siwani elevates the presence of women as the substance of spiritual economy. In the video “Amakhosi” shot in the lush and undulating landscape of Kwazulu-Natal makes the statement about intellectual,ancestral and maternal fertility. Traditional African drums are the natural sounds of the landscape also soundtrack the video continuing the function of interlinked spiritual contexts. With this video the artist emphasises intimacy with the landscape, dressed in her novice traditional garb the images also makes emphasis about the intimacy between cultural practises and the landscape.

At the Iziko National Gallery she had a third exhibition for the video having been exhibited in the 12th Bamako Encounters and an exhibition that focuses on post colonial themes titled “Present Passing” in Hong Kong in 2019. That exhibition featured artists from South African, Asia and the Caribbean. Siwani work in that context fits in terms of the ontological implications that postcolonial themes discourse is wrought with. In conversation with artist and performers like Sharlene Khan and Lhola Amira her work emphasises the urgency of art that discourses the historical place of women in the postcolonial legacy. Artists like Kresiah Mukwazi and Mary Sibande work with these themes of women as spiritual institution for national, hisoric and contemporary emancipation.

Similar to these artist mentioned above Siwani comes to connects different cosmologies in a geographical and spiritual sense. This is reflected in the work titled “Umntuntu” another video that features a procession of people, in this video they make their way into a river. A spiritual calling in African traditions requires an individual to invoke a collective conversation. Caught between visiting ancestors and a form of baptism in African Christian practises, the work reinstitute the ubungoma historical position through the artist in the video presiding over this baptism. This is the aspect that unearths latent symbolic elements in the work. Just like in “AmaHubo”, which relies on stomping of feet and staff to create an atmosphere, ” Umntuntu” relies on the sound of being submerged. The presider and her novices are immersed in the ambiguity of historic silence and contemporary healing through the quiet sound of water.

Siwani’s work is multi layered to the extent that it utilises technical measures to connect what is intimate or microcosmic with what is grander and open to the public domain. Photography allows not just self writing, it allows elements in the work to be imbued with a symbiotic aspect. Sound and silence are comprised of symbiotic elements, silence seems to emanate from sound which is a reversal of the traditional narrative that places submission as lack of substance.
In order to transcend the notion and function of submission in women narratives Siwani created work that speaks to rendering the self as a site of historical elements of identity.

“AmaHubo” video still. Courtesy of Artsy.

Disconnecting to connect with Thandiwe Msebenzi

South African artist Thandiwe Msebenzi had an exhibition showing at Blank Projects titled “Radical Makazi”. The show was presented in the form of a book, photography, video and instillation. Msebenzi continues to create exhibitions that interrogate the traditional place of women in a culture that is influence by multiculturalism and its impact on individual expression. This piece will focus on the photography element of the exhibition and its textual aspect. It will demonstrate that in Msebenzi work individuality is a form of connection to the group. This is symbolic in the figure of ‘makazi’ or aunt. Placing herself as the subject of her exhibitions the artist invokes the aspect of self expression as a cultural location. It will be demonstrated was achieved through text and the stories of her aunt. Inspired by her as a subject she converts her role connecting to a generation that comes before her.

The text or narrative tells the stories of her aunt and her strategies to negotiate different forms of oppression. An example is the part where the aunt leaves her marriage for Windhoek. There have been countless stories of women who want freedom from their oppressive and violent partners, the strategy to leave the country speaks to a spirit of adventure unknown in the artist background. Without utilising titles for the images the work is imbued with a personal and political aspect. For example the aunt was a singer and a politician, telling her stories to Msebenzi through the text. The text is presented sporadically, echoing how the photography in the exhibition is displayed. Like time capsules that are connected by the grander narrative that is informed by the artist and her aunt. There is an image of the aunt packing her suitcase and leaving a particular chapter in her life and then one where she is getting married.

Msebenzi work resounds with nostalgia, “Radical Makazi” is no exception. In this show her demeanour is playful and light. Contrasting it with her previous exhibitions with tense and dramatic images, they always seems to express something tenuous and delicate. With this exhibition there is an element of self what is embodied or performed, this can be discerned through the image with a smiling Msebenzi while holding a cigarette. This is also reflected in the passage that speaks of the birth years of the aunt and the intimate details of her family life. The stuccato distribution of visual and text created a latent poetic element that the artist is achieving for the first time through the impact of her work. Text and image are at times fictitious,what this does is render the artist cultural role pertinent to where she comes from and what she tells the world. This sense of drama is also pronounced in the curatorial choices to present images in a linear form. The chapters might not be connected, but through the text they are connected through history and through the artist.

The text reveals the social and political strategies that women or individuals from Msebenzi background adopted to relate to the diverse community but also attain personal independence. The aunt for example spoke Afrikaans in one point of her life as way of adjusting to an urban setting. This not only echoes the cultural location that Msebenzi occupies in her family history, it renders her a conduit for her family and for the generation of women who lack personal strategies for identity formation. The aspects of the narrative that are fictitious mean that the artist found an outlet for identity expression through art and photography. This can be discerned in how the subject of the exhibition is the artist herself instead of any of the women in her family. Recreating the tone and styles of her aunt generation speaks not only to her location in the family cultural space, but how personal narratives become disjointed by history and politics.

The images in the chapter lack titles, but they tell of a particular period in the aunt’s life, the artist created photographic pantomimes to affect a subjectivity that is free to express herself and to traverse cultural norms within her family history in order to tell an historic and contemporary story. What is historic and styled is embodied in the image where she is packing a suitcase, and the piece where she is standing next to a tree. The spirit of contemporaneity is expressed through the measure of inspiration, and the radicalism that anchored the aunt’s energy and spirit. This is also embodied in the grander and abstract notions like love, politics, family history and communal ethics in relation to the artist’s family history. This is consistent with how an exhibition’s themes can be discerned in the images that comprise her shows. The abstraction enabled her to decrease the pain that underpins her history and tell the audience a story that is at times jovial, but also historically relevant.

Msebenzi created an exhibition that demonstrated that heavy subjects made light imbue the show with a discourse of generational transition. She is inspired by a person who lived a life in which what collapsed around her did not determine who she became. This speaks to the value of creatives in contemporary African families and the individuals who are in the cultural positions to tell and articulate family histories without the yoke of political oppression. How the political aspect is handled in the exhibition speaks to not just the manner in which Msebenzi constructs memories of her aunt, it speaks to how she is able to give her voice through images. It is obvious her aunt life spoke to her, it is also obvious how as a creative herself she had an impact. Subjectivity in Msebenzi work concretized a measure of historic vulnerability, as an anchor of that element in her work, art is a medium with which she encapsulates history in order for her to participate.

Pink Period with Mia Darling

Artist Mia Darling had an exhibition with the 99 Loop Gallery. Darling operates with a sentimentality that is rooted in traditional canvas work and in expressing the narratives of the characters she depicts. Her work is poetic, subjective and . relies on the use of colour and image motifs to chisel visual narratives that are relational and collective in energy. It will be demonstrated that the themes of “Bunny Girl” her latest exhibition infused with unapologetic sensual and aesthetic connotations express the aspect in her work that portray individuality as an anchor of aesthetic and existential expression. It will be demonstrated that in this show her use of glass as a surface imbued her work with a palpable intangibility.
This is reflected in the piece titled “Sunset on the beach”, working primarily with a pastel pink that is the colour motif of her aesthetic she is able to accentuate the place of the characters she portrays, by pronouncing their sensual measure. Unlike in previous shows where the environment characters are portrayed in are dominant in “Bunny Girl” the individual anchors the canvas, with the finished impact of minimal articulation of the image’s background. Like the piece titled “Dog House” a woman laying on her belly her upper body covered by a pink dog house, her bottom exposed. The white socks and heels she is wearing create a delicate contrast with the pastel pink. Darling characters are almost entirely women, the effects of palpable intangibility that the use of acrylic usually renders her work with form a measure of their delicacy. In this show she utilises glass, a surface that not enables the form of a piece to assume this palpable intangibility, it also imbues the anchoring image of the piece with a diffused form. The operation of diffused form and amalgamated unity also informs the structure of her pieces, in “Bunny Girl” this effect is peripheral due to the minimalized environments her characters are articulated in. This is most discernible in “Sunset on the beach”.
In this collection the measure of movement her work is finished with the themes and images are delicate and tangible, the bold borders that acrylic affords are in perpetual dissolution. This is most discernable in “Romp in the nude II”, a woman articulated in a portrait shape glass canvas picks flowers in the fields, the long green grass and background fuse assuming the organic contexts that Darling stages her narratives in. Darling baths her characters with organic forms in the contexts she depicts, adorning them with colour, individuality and sensuality. In “Bunny Girl” she adorns the environment with her characters, creating situations where both aspects are unified but pronounce her character.
“Special Offer” is a piece in which the drama of reciprocity is expressed outside the individual, Darling work is infused with the penchant to utilise certain images as paraphernalia in the situations she depicts. This way they not only accentuate the aspect of individuality, they also communicate either to the audience or the subject she infuses her narratives with. “Special Offer” is a narrative of desired reciprocity, unstaged internal existential expression of the sensual. It is a piece that resonates with other works, it is also imbues this discourse of desire with a measure of what is shared and reciprocal.
“Bunny Girl” is an intimate conversation brimming with the spirit of the times, concerning issues of a privacy that has been imposed than desired. Darling was able to render it collective through the feminine form and its propensity to induce organic curiosity through the strategy of socially acceptable expressions of what is intimate and private.

Ngqanda nanga ‘manzi engena endlini with Ka Zenzile

Mawande Ka Zenzile “Usango olumxinwa” circa 2022

South African artist Mawande Ka Zenzile had an exhibition showing at Stevenson Johannesburg that closed on the 24th of June. The article will examine how the borders between art work and the title have dissolved. That this is a result of the artist realising a relationship between what is symbolic and literal is determined by the oscillation between intellectual inundation and what is cathartic about artistic expression. Ka Zenzile work explores a relationship between what is intangible and its palpable disintegration about what is symbolic and literal. The artist has developed a sensibility related to expressing what is frail as palpable and what is concrete as disintegrating. It will be demonstrated that in Ka Zenzile work what is fleeting is symbolic and what is literal is diffused by a conscious expression of what is cathartic about creative expression.
This is articulated in this show by the piece titled “Isango elimxinwa”, this not only marks a representational evolution in the work through the arch doorway in the middle of the piece but also how the image is subsumed by the canvas. His characteristic strategy is to create a measure of immediate depth between the background and foreground of the piece. A pattern characterizes the top left hand curve of the arch. The piece is finished with the same deep and tangible colours that suggest movement and sometimes formlessness.
The same progressive strategy of representation can also be discerned in “Iziduli zethafa” a piece in which what is literal is both symbolised by what is diffused -landscape- and figurative -the horizontal line. In order for the function of the horizontal line in the collection of his work to be demonstrated has an operation related to depth on the canvas. It also symbolizes how limits in relation to what is diffused function with the ambiguity of the mark and continuity. This is emphasized by the three small humps that are the images in the piece, they mark depth and foreground rather than expressing representational images as a manifestation of intellectual inundation. They also operate to demonstrate what is symbolic about fleeting disintegration. His world is not just his canvas rather he has a relationship with the landscape that is as expandsive as it is intuitive. He creates a space where he is conscious he is the medium through which this relationship is concretized.
The piece “Ukuhamba kukubona” articulates the deliberate nature of a being who is conscious of a diffused energy and establishing a relationship with it. Vertical multi coloured lines characterise the piece in the palpable cow dung. The piece expresses a searching energy unlike the sense of discovery that the horizontal line can represent. It suggests movement that is linear, but also an energy that is bound or controlled. The piece is a culmination of diffused energy having found direction in careful but various intellectual energies.
The work “Kiss my ass” is a play on the cultural space that iconography occupies in the western cannon. Soldiers dressed in medieval regalia characterise this dark piece. A sense of the dark characterise this price with white figures contrasting the dark gesso finished piece, that unifies them with the figures in black like static. What is literal assumes transformative connotations in the sense that what is historic has already imbued a mark of stasis and the measure of personal impact in relation to what is historic. In this piece it is symbolically unified with the past and what is indistinct about the contemporary.
Instillation plays a strong role in Ka Zenzile work. In this exhibition one of the pieces titled “The Golden Goose(An Autobiography of an Artist)” is a piece characterized by a coffin with a goose on top of it. A small tree is planted next to the coffin. Ka Zenzile is conscious of a measure of creative and personal development, in that the coffin represents a form of catharsis and culmination. The tree in the context provides a symbolic function in terms of representing spiritual and intellectual growth. This piece articulates an arch of evolved creative expression and spiritual growth. What is significant is the symbolic function of time, it is incorporated in the work as an arch of internal and external accretion, expressing how time and growth operate in tandem in the intellectual space. The coffin is symbolic of disintegration while the tree depicts the ambiguity of stasis and development.
Ka Zenzile creativity is evolving and speaks to a measure of becoming. This might not be only about creativity, it could be about a holistic approach in different facets of his intellectial life. The show discourses an artist who is conscious of his creative development but also his relationship with history, contemporary and past. It is becmong clear through instillation where historic influences are relinquished. Through painting we can discerned where influences have fused and assumed measures of becoming.

Mary Sibande’s fear of history’s heart

Mary Sibande, “The manifestation” 2022

South African artist Mary Sibande had an exhibition at the Smac Gallery that opened in February 2022. The show featured works that comprise the artist repertoire human size sculptors that depict the character that motifs her oeuvre, Sophie. In this exhibition titled “A Red Flight of Fancy” the artists presented Sophie’s different avatars. It will be demonstrated the exhibition articulated how individuality and the body function as a signpost that marks the accretion of history. This impact enables the artist the Sibande to stage and photograph sculptural tableaus that induce notions of history as contemporary and symbolized by what is creative about the feminine body.
When the character Sophie first appeared in her cannon she was portrayed as a domestic worker. In subsequent exhibitions that were executed with the same sculptural pantomimes, different avatars emerged. These included soldiers with overtly buxom physiques typical of a domestic worker, characters from the past and in “A Red Flight of Fancy” a cards wielding fortune teller. The character that anchors this show is a red Shepherd that herds emaciated spectral hounds. This is the first time that an ominous aspect is overtly portrayed in her work. In previous incarnations of her works it was an aspect that has been subtle, operating to anchor the show with historical connotations of past violence in a latent measure. With this show the sherperd a woman who carries a staff and on the inkjet on Hahnemuhle photograph titled “The Locus” carries a heart. The image is poetic and haunting, Sibande reveals an aspect of historic violence that has relevance with the spiritual world. By displaying with such theatricality she renders it benign instead of being grotesque. This way what is past about historic violence can be discerned to be located in history or in a world beyond. Since a heart is hidden, the artist articulated a measure of delicacy about how history functions and how it is expressed. This difference with the piece “The Locus” Sibande pointed to the extent to which the historical function of past violence in the contemporary context is conjured. The image of the heart speaks to a culmination of power and powerlessness, the feminine figure being the ideal form to articulate this sense of ambiguity.
The work titled “Wielding” features the fortune teller figure brandishing cards. She is depicted with the ethereal and quality of one, her long dress is purple and her hair is dark. A fortune teller occupies the location of a signpost both as conjurer and a visionary. She sees the culminated accretion of signs both as historic and spiritual, she is the locus that navigates meaning and disintegrated meaning. For her articulation is a means to disintegrate and to assemble. She is a medium of history, an embodiment of the body as a signpost as history. Relying on the image of the heart, the exhibition expressed historic disintegration, relying on the image of the feminine body it speaks to a sense of conjuring that terminates this disintegration. This way what is spectral and macabre is not just related to the past, it is also related to the contemporary.
The function of a signpost is not just germination, it also functions as a mechanism of release. In the context of “A Red Flight of Fancy” this release has spiritual connotations. This is reflected in the piece titled “Casting a Spell”, a feminine figure carrying a long staff with a cross bound by a circle, her disposition is ambivalent, bare and uncharacteristic. She wears an aquamarine domestic worker’s dress. Sibande depicts her characters in long dresses emphasising an uninhibited femininity. The figure in the work “Casting a Spell” embodies this, she also wields the ambiguity between power and powerlessness. She is depicted in a gesture of conjuring and disintegration, the feminine figure in this exhibition is not just a repository, she is an example of manifestation.
Sibande works with black women figures to demonstrate social signpost related to history are contingent on how she is represented. Occupying the location of being an expression of colonised and previously colonised body and the apex example of the black body’s measure of emancipation. The artist recognised how the feminine speaks to multiple facets of society, the spiritual, the historic and the social for example. At the heart of “A Red Flight of Fancy” is an expression of what is macabre operating to affect beauty, both in latent and overt symbolic measures. Sibande went back to creating individual pantomimes, this way each avatar is bound by her own narrative, unlike the traditional representation of black women being bound to narrate the oppression other their own bodies. The black feminine body is demonstrated to be the embodiment of her own accrued historic narrative. The palpability or lack of disintegration of her body is demonstrated to be related to the spiritual world.

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