• Writing

    Folklore as material and conceptual praxis

    The beautiful queen of the Wakambi, the peerless Marimba, was walking through the forest with her handmaidens on her way to the riverside to bathe her body in the cool waters. Birds sang in the trees overhead and the forest was heavy with the scent of thousands of flowering shrubs. Myriads of butterflies and colourful insects were fluttering in clouds…

  • Writing

    Lorena Gutierrez Camejo

    In her practice Lorena Gutiérrez Camejo incorporates varying media and creative strategies that articulate her experience of life in Cuba and, in particular, reflections on “power.” Power is peculiar concept, revealing itself in overt and obscure ways. Without being explicit or overstated, Gutiérrez Camejo’s work triangulates power relations, the position of the individual, and social relations in situations of the…

  • Writing

    Questions of Abjection in Two Paintings by Mxolisi “Dolla” Sapeta

    Mxolisi “Dolla” Sapeta was born the third child of four children in New Brighton, a township outside Port Elizabeth, on January 26 1967. At the age of six he would, after school as he waited for his older siblings to arrive and grant him access to the family home, draw on the gravel outside the house and this over time…

  • Writing

    Aesthetic and Other Priorities

    I am being sued by my new neighbour. New because I have just moved into an old complex in Goodwood. The neighbour is an elderly white woman who lives in the apartment below mine. She is chain smoker; the whole downstairs is consumed with tobacco fumes emanating from her permanently ajar front door. Occasionally she is standing in the doorframe,…

  • Review,  Writing

    Perched at the edge of Precarity: Simphiwe Ndzube’s ‘Becoming

    It’s taken me longer than usual to tie down my words and to begin to interpret Simphiwe Ndzube’s ‘Becoming’. Knowing Ndzube, and being familiar with the idiosyncrasies of his work, this could easily have been just a sweeping and endearing review. But how does one sweep and endear the residual objects of the societally effaced and the economically repressed as…

  • Curatorial Project

    The Circus and the Zoo

    The invited works engage with subject positions that critically query differing forms of actual and perceived violence in discourse on the black body. Through allegory, the works evidence a concern with notions of both injurability, vulnerability, and reveal a concern of the relationship between corporeality and violence, particularly the instances of violence that are rendered invisible within certain economies of representation.…

  • Review,  Writing

    A Special Exhibit of horror vacui : Moses Tladi at ISANG

    The Iziko South African National Gallery surely meant well when they conceived ‘Unearthing Moses Tladi’, aiming to reintroduce Tladi and his production over a 30 year period into South African art history. Unfortunately, the lifework of the talented Mr Tladi has instead been undermined by being huddled, in an attempt to ‘contextualise’ his practise, with that of his contemporaries. The…

  • Review,  Writing

    Nothing Wrong With Speaking Back

    Nothing Wrong with Speaking Back – Thoughts on an Exhibition While on any other given day the lumping of work by female artists, who happen to be black, into an exhibition thematically arranged around ‘narration’, could be read as an empowering practice. This time, as happenstance would have it, it also runs the risk of asserting overtones of primitivism and…

  • Writing

    The Search For Transcendence

    The creative and intellectual treatment of the experiences, conditions, and aspirations of black people never fit quiet neatly within the paradigms of ‘established’ disciplines and institutions. These paradigmatic negations form part of the fastidious exclusions and denials of the reality and totality of the black perspective and politics of any given moment. In order to fully appreciate the potentialities of…

  • Writing

    The Art of the Possible: Mawande Ka Zenzile

    The expectation, given the supposed establishment and progressive maturation of post-1994 democratic structures and systems in South Africa, is that grotesque violence should not be possible on the scale  that we are currently experiencing. Since 2004, South Africa has witnessed a series of fairly harrowing manifestations of racism, ones which we are regularly confronted with in the media. Rather than…

  • Curatorial Project

    Over, Across, Between

    Lesedi Mazibane (Botswana), Tanja Szallies (Germany), Buhle Mpila (South Africa), Nobukho Nqaba (South Africa), Siphiwe Ndzube (South Africa), Ester Vonplon (Switzerland), Maya Minder (Switzerland) Exhibition set up at the shell of the former French Cultural Center in Blantyre Malawi, October, 2014

  • Performance

    The Black Threat

    The main character played out by Maninzi, is a black Rapunzel trapped in a tower of conceit and self-hatred and can only find true freedom and peace if she can break away from her hair. Unfortunately for her, no Prince is really interested in a self absorbed little princess so in order to get herself from her situation, Rapunzel must…

  • Writing

    Black Women in Art

    On Black women’s Creativity and the Future Imperfect: Thoughts, Propositions, Issues[1] Black female practitioners in the arts are fundamentally embedded in a context that has challenged their very right to exist, and the resulting absence of black women in art has been a self-evidential critique of this tendency in the discipline. Maria Lugones in “Toward a Decolonial Feminism” begins her essay thus:…

  • Writing

    A general distrust of language

    A word from everyday language, self-evident in literary studies, metaphorically used in anthropology, generalized in semiotics, ambivalently circulating in art history and film studies, and shunned in musicology, the concept of [insert own word here] seems to ask for trouble[1]. Foucault (1981) establishes in The Order of Things the difficulty and the precarious nature of the ‘human sciences’ and their…

  • Curatorial Project

    Being with / the Other, Zurich

    organised by Nkule Mabaso and Ashraf Osman as part of Curating Your Context: Each country has its own peculiar brand of identity and other politics, yet ‘culture’ is multilayered and always hybrid and all ‘cultural’ identifications are imaginary, especially so in the digital age. The discussion will revolve around how individual practices approach the question how societal, cultural, political, social,…

  • Curatorial Project,  Performance

    SAME(difference)_sculpture in relation

    SAME(difference)_sculpture in relation Kunstkammer AZB Schlieren 2013/2014 Curated by: Tanja Trampe, Anne Koskiluoma, John Canciani, Nkule Mabaso A cultural engagement of the AZB, working collective of sculptors in Zürich This curatorial concept for the Kunstkammer Schlieren 2013/14 intends to explore the notion of sculpture and its potential for transformation. The AZB – an artists collective beginning in the early 1980’s…

  • Curatorial Project

    Lecture: Narrative, Memory and Site

    In the lecture NARRATIVE, MEMORY AND SITE Prof. Jyoti Mistry looks at the ideas of context in two distinct ways. The first considers the role and place of the “black cube” of film as a communal, collective experience and the implications of the ways in which the “black cube” screening space is increasingly repositioned inside the “white cube” of the…

  • Writing

    The Adequate Compensation for Suffering

    What should be the adequate compensation for suffering? The connections between this question, the late French philosopher Jacques Derrida’s Archive Fever (1995) and the South African transitional justice mechanisms of the mid-nineties are drawn, not least, by Derrida himself. During his lecture tour of South Africa in 1998, Derrida chose to focus on the aspect of forgiveness; fittingly so, as…

  • Artistic Project

    Strange and Bitter Fruit

    “Strange and Bitter fruit” is a selection of works from a larger body of work and is a continuation of my exploration of representation and sexualized otherness. The title “Strange and bitter fruit” is taken from Abel Meeropol’s  poem “Strange Fruit” performed, most famously, by Billie Holiday. The song speaks about racism in America and the lynching of black American slaves.…

  • Writing

    The Negro Self Improvement Project

    Ellen Gallagher, a painter by training, works with “chaos as advertising” (Goodeve 2005:40). Her matter is specifically the magazine advertising directed at the black culture of the “Negro self-improvement” movement of the fifties and sixties (Goodeve 2005). In terms of commercial messages, issues of beauty seem to focus on body type, skin tone, hair texture, and the color of one’s skin is the least…

  • Artistic Project,  Performance

    Black Threat, Zimbabwe

    Maninzi Kwatshube Shocks Zimbabwean Theatre Audiences with Mabaso’s Black Threat A second year University of Cape Town drama student, Maninzi Kwatshube, brought a moving piece of theatre to the Savanna Trust hosted festival, Protest Arts International Festival (PAIF). This is the fourth edition of the festival and it ran under the theme ‘Imagining and Re-Inventing the Future’. When Maninzi heard…

  • Artistic Project

    Lips Painted Red

    Lips Painted Red. Strategies to Create and Maintain Female Identities Curated by Pontus Kyander Trondheim Kunstmuseum, Norway The 2013 centenary of women’s vote in Norway has to be understood as part of a much wider emancipation, and not only focusing on women’s rights, but also on human rights. Today, the frontier of gender equality has moved from giving two genders…

  • Curatorial Project

    Newcastle Creative Network

    Why we exist The NCN was imitated in January 2011 with a desire to stimulate youth engagement in art and cultural activities in Newcastle and its surrounds through innovative programming. The network wishes to engage and support existing  programs specifically targeted to ensure adequate or appropriate information dissemination within the population falling below the age of 34. Our mission Our…

  • Writing

    Testing the Boundries of Tradition

    The physical and material inclusion of hair in art is a contemporary phenomenon and tests the boundaries of traditional art, the real hair in an art piece is an intrusion of reality into what is more comfortably viewed as a discrete art object. The inclusion of hair recalls human presence, social interactions, and physical mortality (Klayman 1998). Perhaps no contemporary black artist is…

  • Writing

    A Crazy Idea from Denmark

    March 3 2012 Transcript of informal Skype conversation with a group lead by Svend Lawaetz, Director of the Danish School of Media and Journalism. Conversation 2012

  • Writing

    The Audacity of Place and the Limits of Self-Representation

    This short paper is a measurable attempt to mediate the real and perceived gaps that locate Africa based artists to the peripheries. It asks where the opportunity for self-representation are, and looks at the engaged strategies of interpretative recovery that have the potential to demystify and delineate the zones of enunciation that are usually so fraught with gross misreading’s. In…

  • Writing

    Alienation in the work of Mxolisi Dolla Sapeta

    ABSTRACT: ART FROM THE TOWNSHIP When investigating art from the sociological point of view it is clear that we deal with several sets of interdependencies simultaneously, there is the interrelationship between the individual artist and his art, the interrelationship between the artist and his society and culture. Since these two sets of interrelationships are not mutually exclusive, they also exist…

  • Artistic Project

    Some Bodies Episode 1

      17 August – 7 September 2013 Somebodies (Ep.1) Female identity is today much more than before, defined by outward appearances. To oppose the dictates of advertising and fashion world to create a few. The South African artist Nkule Mabaso this also has not in mind. Quite the contrary. Is this issue but the driver of their artistic work. How…

  • Artistic Project

    Hair is where the story is

    Sound abstracts from a series of powerful and moving conversations with friends and relatives on the subject of hair and the subjectivities it presents or belies. The conversations weave the intangible stories of self and personhood that sometimes manifest themselves in the adoption of particular hairstyles and modes of dress and how these come to represent how we wish to…

  • Artistic Project

    Expandable Black Bodies

    Images of race and representation have become a contemporary obsession and the body as a political site remains an object of intense elaboration and preoccupation in many societies. This project is about challenging the construction of the images that represent black female bodies as expandable. Popular media continues to propagate the myth of an artificially constructed ideal beauty through advertising…

  • Artistic Project

    Installation detail

    Photograph courtesy of Kyle Mijlof http://kylemijlof.blogspot.com/  Detail of the installation of The Black Threat in the Michealis building as presented for the graduate exhibition. The hair descends through the center of the building from the ground floor through to the fourth floor.  

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