Lunga Kama

Here I am

16 April - 30 May 2009

Michael Stevenson is pleased to present Here I am, Lunga Kama's first solo exhibition, part of the Side Gallery series.

Kama's self-portraiture conveys a presence that is both assertive and vulnerable. Central to this exhibition is the use of medication as body adornment. Speaking of these photographs, Kama mentions finding inspiration in Hindu and Xhosa uses of colour and body decoration, in addition to body sensors used in the production of 3D animation, and old photographs of smallpox survivors.

For the triptych Ubuntu libhongo lam (roughly 'pride in my humanity'), Kama distributes a combination of white and pink pills over his body. Movement is suggested by the progression of the three images, in which Kama assumes quiet, introspective, almost submissive poses. In the close-up portrait of the same title, the text on the white pills, 'Lilly', becomes discernible. Lilly is one of the largest manufacturers of drugs for psychiatric and mental health-related conditions. The medication is Kama's own.

In Lunga Kama I and II, the Lilly pills have been replaced with bright pink tablets, as well as shiny silver confetti, reminiscent of pieces of aluminium foil punched from the back of pharmaceutical blister packs. This substitution suggests a move away from the literal towards a more open-ended use of materials.

Experimenting with methods of picture-taking, Kama found the presence of a second person in the studio disruptive. As a result, he works alone (using a self-timer), which allows him to be in the moment. He compares this process to the concentration required in target shooting, his sport of choice in high school.

Kama was born in Cape Town in 1982 and is currently a Master's student at Stellenbosch University, where he completed his BFA in 2008. Previous exhibitions include Spier Contemporary (2007/8), Greatest Hits, AVA, Cape Town (2007), Disguise: the art of attracting and deflecting attention, Michael Stevenson, Cape Town (2008), an exhibition of South African student photography at Photokina, Cologne (2008), and Self/Not-Self, Brodie/Stevenson, Johannesburg, 2009. In 2008 he was the winner of an ABSA L'Atelier Merit Award.

The exhibition opens on Thursday 16 April, 6 - 8pm. The gallery is open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, and Saturday from 10am to 1pm.