STEVENSON is pleased to present Kemang Wa Lehulere's second solo exhibition with the gallery, his first in the Cape Town space. Wa Lehulere is the 2015 Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art.
Titled To whom it may concern, Wa Lehulere's exhibition is a direct and indirect response to a work by Chieko (Mieko) Shiomi (b. 1938), a Japanese artist with links to the Fluxus movement. Shiomi's Spatial Poems comprised instructions for small interventions as well as reports on these actions by participants. Taking his cue from Spatial Poem No 3 (Falling Event), Wa Lehulere suggests forms of falling, both literally and metaphorically, and connects various real events/moments, time and distance in a non-linear manner.
In this new body of work, through sculpture, video, Polaroid and drawings, Wa Lehulere excavates pasts, both static and malleable, existent and imaginative, instructive and fantastical. Utilising deconstructed school desks, mass-produced porcelain dogs, chalk-drawn blackboard surfaces and suitcases filled with soil and growing grass, Wa Lehulere stages a story whose narrative structure is played out as a rehearsal.
This motif of the incomplete, the still growing, the yet to be realised, or of events in the world being in transformation, focuses on the history of South African writer Nat Nakasa's exit from South Africa in 1964 and the short year he spent in the US before his suicide (falling from a high-rise building) in 1965. Wa Lehulere did a private performance at Nakasa's grave in Ferncliff cemetery, upstate New York, in 2013 - months before his remains were repatriated to South Africa.
Restaging events, the reading of bones, storytelling and the conditions of exile form the core elements in To whom it may concern, and sit alongside Wa Lehulere's ongoing research into the writing of history, the fallibility of memory, and language as an unreliable conveyor of truth.
Wa Lehulere (b.1984) lives and works in Cape Town, and has a BA Fine Arts degree from the University of the Witwatersrand (2011). Solo exhibitions have taken place at Lombard-Freid Projects, New York (2013); Stevenson, Johannesburg (2012); the Goethe-Institut, Johannesburg (2011) and the Association of Visual Arts in Cape Town (2009). Notable group exhibitions include the 8th Berlin Biennale (2014); Public Intimacy: Art and Social Life in South Africa at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2014); 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 won the inaugural Spier Contemporary Award in 2007, the MTN New Contemporaries Award in 2010, the Tollman Award for the Visual Arts in 2012 and the International Tiberius Art Award Dresden in 2014; he was awarded the 15th Baloise Art Prize at Art Basel in 2013. As the Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art, he will have a solo exhibition at the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, in July 2015, which will go on to tour the country.Related press: Sue Blaine, Business Day (29 January 2015) | Athi Mongezeleli Joja, Mail & Guardian (30 January 2015) | Theresa Smith, Cape Argus (4 February 2015) | Melvyn Minnaar, Die Burger (7 February 2015) | Nancy Dantas, Art Agenda (9 February 2015) | Ashraf Jamal, Financial Times (5 February 2015) | Lucinda Jolly, Cape Times (12 February 2015), Tim Leibbrandt, Artthrob (7 March 2015)