Lebohang Kganye’s edition for C& entitled Messages from the Memory Palace, is part of her wider body of work In Search for Memory, which began in 2020, inspired by Malawian writer Muthi Nhlema’s science fiction novella TA O’REVA. In the novella Nhlema presents an alternative history of a post-apocalyptic future South Africa, through multiple timelines.
To create the photographs, Kganye first constructs scenes, in which the main protagonist travels between different realities. Kganye places small and delicate cardboard cut-outs of photos, some taken during successive trips to old industrial areas between Pretoria and Johannesburg, others of domestic furniture from her grandmother’s house, as well as silhouettes from her old family albums, into white boxes. These tableaux are then photographed. For Kganye the work reflects on photography and theatre’s relationship to time and performance.
“In my practice, photography is used as a way to recreate moments that I have never myself experienced. In a similar way to figures and objects in a dollhouse, each element in Search for Memory creates the illusion of an entire world. They look like they could be moved, changed or shifted. I wish to emphasise the fabricated nature of history and memory, how the visualisation of an event always induces an element of creation, experimentation and error, an on-going construction. In Search for Memory allows me to make historical adjustments, by placing my family members at the centre of a national stage.”
Lebohang Kganye (b. 1990, Katlehong) is an artist living and working in Johannesburg, South Africa. Kganye’s photography incorporates her interest in sculpture and performance of the archive and memory. She confronts her collected and altered photographs; the artist and her family’s, as material for both memory and fantasy. She explores fictional history by using archives to merge illusive characters with “real” characters in a new universe.
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