Written by: Tebogo Nong
Ikhono LaseNatali is an exhibition commissioned by Professor Sir Zanele Muholi featuring the works of 25 talented Durban-based artists who have interpreted Sir Muholi’s Somnyama Ngonyama (Hail, the dark lioness).
The Cape Town edition of Ikhono LaseNatali felt like a family gathering of the young and the old, celebrating art in all its facets. The exhibition opened with blessings from Pastor Tebo Moema and a thought provoking poem by Christie Van Zyl. Prof. Sir Zanele Muholi led us in song bringing a diverse group of people into oneness. A moment of learning and unlearning. They also recommended tools for exploration like Sarah Thornton’s book, Seven Days in the Art World. The exhibition viewing was followed by some of our favourite traditional cuisine, a true celebration.
“I can afford to look at myself directly, risk the pain of experiencing who I am not , and learn to savior the sweetness of who I am” – Audre Lorde
In Somnyama Ngonyama -Sir Muholi turned their camera on themselves to explore all facets of black identity, the archive confronts the politics of race and how it is experienced in different spaces. In the same way Ikhono LaseNatali spoke to reclaiming blackness and self- expression, the artists were given the opportunity to reinterpret the body of work through their own language of art.
Ikhono LaseNatali called us into understanding the politics of representation and what it means to transform and re-write art. We were able to rediscover and witness the beauty in black personhood; the kind of beauty that is often not depicted in the media and galleries. At its core the exhibition depicts the power of collectivism and visibility on black walls.
Sir Muholi has written history and extended what it means to be a visual activist, not only in theory but in action and through the power of art, giving young artists a voice in spaces where their art can be welcomed and remembered in the collective consciousness. Through the exhibition Muholi has challenged how systems are constructed by giving artists a platform and giving them the tools to express and grow themselves.
The exhibition celebrates 25 years of Democracy and what better way to celebrate than to empower the youth and write what has not been written; bringing creative freedom and messages into place.
The interconnection between Somnyama Ngonyama and Ikhono LaseNatal is that Muholi used props in their immediate surroundings; similarly the artists used various mediums from charcoal, to beadwork and other forms of multimedia to express different aspects of identity. Both collections speak to fearlessly being present in a space. Sir Muholi’s work is a brave statement of what it means to use your voice beyond people’s expectations. Sir Muholi has allowed young artists to roar ; by posing the question of identity through our thoughts, memories, beliefs, discoveries, adaptation, innovation, spirituality and transformation.
With works by Nhlanhla Chonco, Mduduzi Dzanibe, Thalente Khomo, Lindokuhle Khumalo, Bongani Luthuli, Sthenjwa Luthuli, Morgan Mahape, Nkosikhona Majola, Mpilo Makhanya, Andile Maphumulo, Mthobisi Maphumulo, Buhle Wonder Mbambo, Mondli Mbhele, Ncumisa Mcitwa, Khulekani Mkhize, Nhlakanipho Mkhize, Mlamuli Mkhwanazi, Sphephelo Mnguni, Thembi Mthembu, Londiwe Mtshali, Nomusa Mtshali, Lungisani Ndlovu, Major Ndlovu, Lindani Nyandeni, and Zwelinjani Radebe.
Curated by: Dr. Bajabulile La Dhlamini Sidzumo and Thobeka Bhengu.