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Existence is an Occupation, 2020
The legacies of colonialism, apartheid and the Group Areas Act live on in the present as many are are dehumanised, criminalised, forcibly removed or killed for the occupation of land which is their birthright, while the South African Defense Force, South African Police and the Anti-Land Invasion Unit have commit mass crimes with impunity.
This is a struggle in which we are not alone, as similar atrocities are committed by the Israeli Defense Force against Palestinians who have been killed, dispossessed of their lands and whose homes have been demolished.
People are occupying, not invading land, as one can’t invade land which belongs to them. Thus, the act of existing is an occupation.
On Blackness and Surveillance, 2018
This work is an interrogation of surveillance technology and the camera's inherent function of "looking" at Black people. Driven through microscopic imagery and audio conversations, the video explores the Black body and its evisceration through various technologies of surveillance as well as the paradox of Blackness as being both seen and invisible.
Xirilo Xa VaTsonga (The cry of the VaTsonga), 2020
For as long as Southern African history can remember, the Tsonga/Shangaan people have been disregarded and othered amongst South African cultures. This sound piece is a poem titled Xirilo Xa VaTsonga, written by H.S Mnisi and published in 1969. The poem is about the tragedies that have been befallen Tsonga men around South Africa, considering the effects this has had on the family unit. It is being recited by Tsonga people with varying backgrounds and histories but who have no connection with the artist. It is part of a body of work which explores what it means to be a Tsonga woman disconnected from the Tsonga culture. If culture is performative, am I still a part of that culture if I fail at performing it well?
Kgotlelo Bradley Sekiti
“With the general practice of storytelling and general being, I often find it hard focusing,” Sekiti says. “Focusing in sense of the intention set from beginning, focus in terms of showing care to self, focus in the general wellbeing of my existence. Acknowledging that I am a free flowing agent of eternal consciousness. “Existentialism is a way of life that allows me to explore my being at own will. I therefore become responsible of awareness of the world. Carrying myself through the world with intention, with compassion and and the encouragement of self care simply by breathing.
The work explores a constant flow of thoughts, putting emphasis on the its inherent multiplicity. Using a split screen introduces the possibility of parallel universes that allow constant self-exploration.
Mitchell Gilbert Messina
In the Southern Suburbs, 2018
“Regarding video work,” Messina says, “I’ve been fiddling with the ways in which an idea or feeling can construct and convey itself. The process, as it currently stands, has a story write itself around found images, clumsily building itself up without much plotting or planning, guided instead by tone and the will to conclude itself. It’s a largely unrefined process where several moving parts eventually come to find their equilibrium - each precarious and contingent on the others.
“I started making In the Southern Suburbs shortly after my own bicycle was taken from the front yard of the house I lived in. I found myself less unnerved by the theft so much as the transgression of the property boundary, the crossing of a perimeter suddenly framing everything outside of itself as a potential threat. At around the same time a string of alerts on the neighbourhood whatsapp group (a space for bad news wrapped in push notifications) slowly reframed a variety of unrelated petty crimes into something more singular, malevolent and intentional: a crime wave, coming from somewhere and happening to us.
“In the Southern Suburbs has the theft of a bicycle trigger a neighbourhood’s spiralling paranoia, until each house has their reality so thoroughly warped by conspiratorial thinking that they become militarised and fragmented. Community security measures begun in earnest quickly escalate into a power struggle fueled by private militias, warring factions, insurgencies, POW camps and capital.”
“When I was a boy I was fed on a steady diet of fire fables,” Mkhari says. “The first images to enter and occupy my imaginary are of mythical creatures from even more mythical lands. For me, these stories still seem real. I constantly feel like there’s a thin barrier, a translucent membrane, between this world and the mythical one. This alternative world is where I continue to draw my creative inspiration.”
“Xigono is a mythical creature in xiTsonga folklore. It's a one eyed, one armed and one legged creature. The creature is the equivalent of an antagonist in xiTsonga folklore. The impulse to create this film was really from a place of longing, longing for the folktales, the fire, the fear, longing for familiar textures in the tapestry of postcolonial South Africa.
“I asked myself, where is Xigono today? And if it came to Johannesburg, what would it think of this new South Africa, with its tall concrete buildings, its cars and buses, its noise, what would its role be? What would it say? Would we recognize it? Would we still fear it as I feared it in the fire fables?
“In this film the camera, with its one eye (the lens) and one leg (Monopod) is refigured into this mythical creature from first person view, moving around Johannesburg, lamenting on how much of ourselves we sacrificed to be part of the new South Africa.”
IZANDLA EZINGCOLILEYO, Act I, 2019
An excerpt from ILIZWE LIFILE (2019)
In an article titled Imagined Communities, Simon Njami (2011) discusses representation of the black body in contemporary art. Njami engages this idea that a black body is representative of all/other black bodies because “the body becomes a metaphor. As an instrument of mediation through which the artist speaks to the other, the body is the first concrete element by which we are perceived. It is the seat of a permanent conflict, because through it, the contradictory question of perception is played” (2011: 202). That is, to paraphrase, the way in which we present ourselves to others versus what they perceive of us.
Njami also contends that representing oneself in photography or video becomes the ‘embodiment’ of an idea that is no longer abstract. “The slightest landscape becomes a manner of self-portrait and takes shape or acquires body” (Njami, 2011: 201). Here, an internal landscape in which the ‘permanent conflict’ between cultural identity and ‘educated’ body plays out, is enacted externally or ‘on the surface.’
The isiXhosa title Izandla Ezingcolileyo directly translates to ‘dirty hands,’ also interpreted as ‘impure hands,’ in English. The title is derived from a section in Peires’ account of the cattle-killing, in which he engages the amaXhosa’s conception of lung sickness in their cattle. AmaXhosa perceived the emergence of lung sickness to be a punishment for the spiritual transgressions of what was considered ‘witchcraft’.. This formed an integral part of the rationale of Nongqawuse’s prophecy, that cattle were dying because they “have been herded by defiled hands”(Gqoba, 1888 quoted from Peires, 1989: 126). Therefore, the call for the killing of cattle and the casting away of witchcraft was seen as the redemptive act.
Further, after visiting a gravesite, it is insisted that one washes their hands before re-entering the homestead. This custom is still practiced today kwaXhosa, and for several reasons, one of which I think is this lingering fear of death as an impurity. For me, this broader idea of impurity is also related to Simon Njami’s notion that the formation of black (or African) identity involves “a partial synchronization, a commitment that crosses cultural borders, a merging of different cultural traditions, negotiations between dominant and subordinate positions…” (2011: 200). Njami further remarks that “all these forms are impure; all are, to some degree, hybrids of a vernacular basis” (Njami, 2011: 200).
Amanzi Connexions, 2020
Water + Internet = A spiritual internet.
The internet stores our past. The memories & experiences of our ancestors, the memories of us. Similarly, water also stores memories. Between Earth’s waters there is land. Water connects all continents. The internet mimics this connection; it is fluid. Through water we can communicate with our past. We can connect, boundlessly.
In the year 2220, two hundred years from now, our future ancestors will peer into the old internet, our internet, our memories, to somewhat gain access to us. They’ll research & learn of our wars, breakups, event pages, blogs & images. They’ll know us well, they’ll laugh at our memes.
The memories water holds Are in special file formats that our technology today cannot read. These memories can only be read through divination, Or African spiritual science methods; African Magic. However, with the internet & technology of the future, maybe by 3007. Africans will unlock online spiritual connections, via Amanzi Connexions, thus allowing the possibility for time & inter-dimensional travel. Enabling people to chat & DM their divine ancestors.
Ngandile kepha Ngiwumhlaba, 2020
This work uses Zulu-style storytelling (Ingane kwane) in an attempt to communicate the idea of the beginning being the end, nothing being everything. Our very nature as humans was that way, is that way, and will always be that way. The work attempts to express this notion through the Bible’s first book of Genesis. The story of creation began in the space of nothing and therefore became something. We are at home in everything and in nothing (the plants, the water, the people, the earth, the universe, the firmament and the blackness that surrounds).The aim of the audio visual is to show that we are constant fluctuating points, expanding and retracting whilst we are being.That is living.life.umhlaba.
When we hear a person drowning, we expect to see the abject in action,a person drowning, not an empty surface of the sea of its aftermath. This term, abject is poetically defined by Julia Kristeva in three variants: abjection, abject and the process of abjection. Abjection is concerned with common taboos surrounding the materiality of the body, such as the corpse, which represents “death infecting life... imaginary uncanniness...” which “beckons to us and ends up engulfing us” (Kristeva, 1993). In the presence of a corpse, we are compelled to address our own future, mortality and the irresistible vileness of our own bodies.
The event of birth and subsequent events are made of different forms of abjection. Like the bodily fluid that is excreted in birth, the infant is also a form of excretion. It may be a part of a mother, but it is not the mother. It is neither an object nor a subject. The act of giving birth is a form of abjection and the infant, an object that would evolve into an abject. The infant, an excretion of life, is also a reminder of the ultimate death, the beginning of degradation.
The darkness is not evil, but celestial, 2018
Sparse in action and engulfed by darkness, Moshehle considers her work to be a visual anthropological study of our ‘objective’ reality. Like an anthropologist conducting her fieldwork, their videos hone in on the banality of life to draw conclusions on our beliefs, lifestyles and habits. Set in a barren, post-apocalyptic wasteland this work is populated with orbiting and trembling devices. With their roots sunk deeply in structuralist film, Mosehle re-contextualizes those spaces during the editing process, where juxtapositions create a new synthesis.
Quaid ‘Queezy’ Heneke
This project was a return to the birthplace of the artist’s father who passed away when they were one and half days old. “The project was important to connect with area to regain an understanding of where I came from and how apartheid has affected this community,” Heneke says. “There is a general sadness in the area with a decay of buildings and streets, however there is still joy in people's eyes and hearts. I decided I would dress up in my brightest neon dress, which I made, and took a walk through Vanguard and Gatesville to ignite joy and laughter for the people who live there.”
The project was produced a week before we entered lockdown in Cape Town.
Art Direction and Costume Design: Queezy. Handycam: Ya'eesh Dollie. Sound: Daniel Bruce Grey and Queezy.
Dani Kyengo O’Neill | Būjin
‘WISHA’ (‘Dog’ in Amharic) is a non verbal absurdist short following a nameless protagonist: Dog.
Observed as never leaving the premises of its domestic residence, and never questioning the circumstances of Dog’s surroundings, Dog leads a life of obliviousness to being surveilled, forever waiting for someone to come, that’s never revealed.
Filmed over several days during a stay in eThekwini.
Sa’ fa, sa’ Phela, 2020
Sa’ fa, sa’ Phela is an audio-visual piece which was created in a time of turmoil and loss: racism, gender based violence, police brutality & COVID 19. Unfortunately, these issues are still prevalent today. More key is that the piece was created ahead of June 16, Youth Day in South Africa, as a remembrance piece, to honour those who we have lost, those who paved the way for us to be here today, hence, the use of found archive imagery from that period. This was a period of extreme loss,hence the title, which translates to, “we are dying, we are finishing.” Quoting the song from Mr. Gumede, “safa sa phela, sibulalana sodwa,” we are dying, we are finishing, killing each other also touches on Black on Black violence,i.e., the killing of Collins Khosa.
The setting of the video loop is a graveyard, where the artist’s great grandmother was buried. The score is Reverend Al Sharpton speaking at George Floyd’s memorial, “Hare Jaya Jaya Rama I” by Laraaji, and “Uthando Noxolo” by Sipho Gumede.
With love. May we heal.
Nolan Oswald Dennis
performance notes for a holding (be whole), 2019
performance notes for a holding (be whole) is an extension of a performance called 52 bits for Eastman, first attempted in 2019 for POROMPOMPOMPOMPO, an exhibition curated by Unathi Mkhonto and Jody Brand. This video is an excerpt from a work in progress called ’52 bits for Eastman’ - in fact it is 10 out of an eventual 52 bits (10/52).
performance notes for a holding (be whole) approaches video as a planning device (as in fugitive planning, unsettling the flow of established meaning) rather than as an artefact in itself. The video uses Julius Eastman’s organic music principle as an indeterminate compositional tool for working with shared and gathered audio visual material and meta-notes.
performance notes for a holding (be whole) is a set of performance notes toward a choreography of parts. In other words, ‘a holding,’ which is both the act of carrying and the transformation of any space into a hold. In this way, holding becomes a basic aspect of ‘black consciousness of space’: the material and metaphysical conditions of decolonisation.
Udder Storm, 2018
This work was created in tilt brush to be viewed in 3D virtual reality. What you see here is the flattened dimension to the work.
The artwork is an imagination of an ancestral plain imagined by Cow. How does an udderly dimension look? Here is a glimpse of another realm which cannot be seen or experienced in our earthly environments without the right tools.
also also also and and and
An exhibition examining the dynamics of home, anatopism, surveillance, land & power through a chorus of audiovisual cartographies. also also also and and and is centred on process and experimentation, presented as a circle through which the viewer navigates. This speaks semiotically to the cyclical articulations of past in present. The past that is not past, it reappears always, to rupture the present (Sharpe, 2016). Each of the presented artists dismember and re-member personal histories through video assemblage and documentary, making the past and future present.
Viewer discretion is advised - trigger warning: GBV, sexual violence, strong language, and violence.
Curated by Luvuyo Equiano Nyawose with Nkule Mabaso and Thembakazi Matroshe.
Participating artists: Nolan Oswald Dennis, Cheriese Dilrajh, Quaid ‘Queezy’ Heneke, Jueun Kim, Khanyisile Mahwayi, Cow Mash, Duduza Mchunu, Ketu Meso, Mitchell Gilbert Messina,Nkhensani Mkhari, Katleho Mosehle, Karl Ndebele, Dani Kyengo O’Neil | Būjin, Kgotlelo Bradley Sekiti,Inga Somdayla and Lesole Tauatswala.
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