STEVENSON is pleased to present Kemang Wa Lehulere's first solo exhibition at the gallery.
Wa Lehulere utilises diverse media, including text, drawing and performance. His work engages with the spaces between personal narrative and collective history, between processes of amnesia and archive. Performative gestures of unearthing discovery, destruction and erasure are central to Wa Lehulere's work. The act of digging, for example, becomes a metaphor for the pathology of history. From his early performance series, Ukuguqula iBatyi (2008), to the new installation 30 Minutes of Amnesia: Scene 2 (2012), bones are presented as object and image. The site simultaneously conveys a scene of death and archaeological dig, with the artist performing the dual roles of forensic investigator and scientist. Bones become the motif for a violent confrontation between the myths of the past and the fictions of the present.
Wa Lehulere's latest work continues to explore these themes with a particular focus on the disintegration of the archive, both collective and individual. In the performance titled Some Deleted Scenes (2012), we enter a world where all pages are either blank or burning, and learn about a man who has the ability to restore images to blanked-out photographs. In this performance and the dark room installation 30 Minutes of Amnesia: Scene 2, Wa Lehulere's choreography of the invisible draws our attention to those things on the periphery of our vision.
As the artist explains:
[This body of work] dances with the idea of uncovering, writing and erasing of narratives both factual and fictional. Because of the possibilities and yet limitations of this endeavour, I have chosen to treat the drawings, texts and performances as both deleted yet 'working scenes'. So that the work, though in progress and development, is treated as material to be discarded. This method and strategy ... allows for an open exploration of the body both as archive and as a site for choreographing future narratives. As such the drawings function as forms of sense making and 'sketches' for other mediums including performance, installation, video, writing, and vice versa.
Wa Lehulere was born in 1984 in Cape Town and currently lives in Johannesburg. He has a BA Fine Arts degree from the University of the Witwatersrand. Previous solo exhibitions have taken place at the Goethe-Institut in Johannesburg (2011) and the Association of Visual Arts in Cape Town (2009). Group shows include Air de Lyon at the Fundación Proa in Buenos Aires, Argentina (2012); The Ungovernables, the second triennial exhibition of the New Museum in New York (2012); A Terrible Beauty is Born, the 11th Biennale de Lyon at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Lyon, France (2011) and When Your Lips Are My Ears, Our Bodies Become Radios at the Kunsthalle Bern and Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland (2010). Wa Lehulere was a co-founder of the Gugulective (2006), an artist-led collective based in Cape Town, and is a founding member of the Center for Historical Reenactments in Johannesburg. He was the winner of the inaugural Spier Contemporary Award in 2007, and the MTN New Contemporaries Award in 2010. He was the recipient of an Ampersand Foundation residency in New York in 2012.
The exhibition opens on Wednesday 8 August, from 6 to 8pm.
Performances: Two performances will take place during the course of the exhibition, at noon on Saturdays 18 August and 1 September. All are welcome to attend. Please note: the performance on 15 September has been cancelled.