Lerato Shadi: Mabogo Dinku

M.Bassy, Hamburg, Germany
28 Jun 2020 - 05 Jul 2020

Mabogo Dinku, video still, courtesy of the artist and gallery blank projects, 2019

Mabogo Dinku, video still, courtesy of the artist and gallery blank projects, 2019

The exhibition MABOGO DINKU is a cooperation with the Kunstverein Hamburg and Villa Romana.

Lerato Shadi’s work challenges common assumptions to critique Western notions of history and make visible that which is invisible or overlooked. Working across video, performance and installation, and often employing repetitive processes, she argues the importance of centering – not just including – the marginalised body as a main figure of narrative experience. By placing herself at the forefront of her work, Shadi deals with the politics of cultural erasure and structural exclusion.


Single channel HD video projection
colour | stereo sound | 6 minutes | 2019

In the video Mabogo Dinku, Shadi’s hand makes enigmatic gestures and she sings a folk verse in Setswana. But she provides no subtitles or guidance on what the words and gestures mean because she is narrating the un-narratable, the history of her people, marginalized during apartheid in South Africa. The history she was taught at school is the history of the colonizer, which she rejects, so what history can she tell? Furthermore, the translation of the language into English or other dominant western languages would pay homage to western languages as the universal one, continuing the boxing in of others’ mother tongues into the languages of the “other.”

Text by Winnie Sze


Single channel HD video projection
colour | stereo sound | 7 min. 30 sec. | 2016

What it means to possess no history, and thus to have no future, culminates in the video Motlhaba Wa Re Ke Namile that Shadi filmed in her native town, Lotlhakane: the work evokes the so-called slave masks that white slave owners placed over the heads of their dehumanized workforce to prevent them from swallowing dirt and thus committing suicide—as a last gesture of resistance. In the video, Shadi eats earth from her homeland, gags, stuffs more into her mouth, and gags again as tears roll down her cheeks. The only part of her that is visible is the section of her face from her cropped eyes down to the shoulder area and the hands that continue to stuff earth into her mouth.

Text by Angelika Stepken


Single channel HD video
colour | stereo sound | 11 min. 15 sec. | 2018

In Re Maotwana Gonyela, a figure completely draped in red roams a landscape as the personified spirit of resistance. Sometimes they pause in contemplation, sometimes they wander through the tall grass, then stop again to perform mysterious movements. Their intentions and actions remain vague, oscillating between energetic and gentle moments and underlining the ghostly character of the figure. Apart from the figure, nothing indicates human presence, so that the scene has hardly any temporal or spatial coordinates. Thus, the spirit of resistance is detached from past, present and future and inscribed in a landscape in which their presence equally leaves their mark.


Lerato Shadi (born in Mahikeng, South Africa, lives and works in Berlin) studied art at the University of Johannesburg and earned a M.A. in Spatial Strategies at the Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weißensee. Her work has been shown internationally in solo and group exhibitions, a. o.: Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris (December, 2020); 14th Curitiba Biennial in Brazil, SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin (both 2019); Kunsthal Amersfoort in Holland, Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town (both 2018); as well as in the program The Parliament of Bodies at documenta 14 in Kassel, Germany (2017).


28.6.2020 – Sunday, 15.00-18.00
Meet the artist Lerato Shadi at M.Bassy




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