Nonceba Dwanya: Motlatsi, Tshepo Phokojoe: To: IDENTITIES, Smiso Cele: Of place and the Uncertain

Bag Factory Artists’ Studios, Johannesburg, South Africa
27 Jan 2024 - 16 Feb 2024

Nonceba Dwanya, Leblomo, 2023.
Ink, gouache, and charcoal on Masonite.
1,22 m x 1,22m
Image courtesy of the artist

Nonceba Dwanya, Leblomo, 2023. Ink, gouache, and charcoal on Masonite. 1,22 m x 1,22m Image courtesy of the artist

Bag Factory Artists’ Studios is delighted to present the opening the three solo exhibitions by the 2023/24 Young/Unframed Award recipients. The exhibitions being showcased are: Motlatsi by Nonceba Dwanya, curated by Amina Malatji; To: IDENTITIES by Tshepo Phokojoe and curated by Kamogelo Walaza and by Smiso Cele, Of place and the Uncertain, curated by Motheo Mamabolo.

Nonceba Dwanya and Amina Malatji – Motlatsi

Khoma, initiation, is a widely practised act of admission into adulthood in South Africa. Beyond South Africa, every culture worldwide practices a form of initiation which can be cultural, traditional, social, religious or generational. The process of initiation is experienced, expressed and practised differently. Whilst some are more physical or structured, other forms are influenced by change and are flexible, however, at the core of every initiation process, lies a sentimental value of becoming. Motlatsi, is an exhibition by Nonceba Dwanya, who explores images of her mother through portraiture, by revisiting various moments in her mother’s youth – her becoming – which was at times a non-typical performance of womanhood and her relationship with the feminine.

This exhibition aims to illuminate the multifaceted nature and meaning of initiation processes. The images of Motlatsi show a complex identity made of complex gender experiences, history, time and place. Beyond the making of the woman, or the man, at the core, there is the making of personhood—the making of YOU. We are layered with our heritage, history, community, economy, and movements. Incorporating language, heritage and modernity, Motlatsi invites you to engage with the complexities of being under the communities and societies that make us.

Tshepo Phokojoe and Kamogelo Walaza – To: IDENTITIES

Identity is plural. Some of our identities are assigned to us, and some we choose for ourselves. Some identities complement each other, and others conflict. Parts of these identities we share with others, and others remain private. Everyone’s identity is more than what is said to meet the eye.

To: IDENTITIES serves as a reflective journey, navigating the diverse landscapes of self- discovery, societal perceptions, and the ever-evolving nature of who we are. From traditional canvases to mixed-media installations, the artworks act as mirrors: reflecting the rich tapestry of human experiences; and drawing attention to the interplay of race, gender, culture, and personal history within the never-ending game of identity formation.

In Phokojoe’s work, the coarse textured hessian fabric serves as canvas, echoing the raw and unfiltered aspects of individual stories. Each thread, each knot speaks to the complexities inherent in forming identities around gendered labour practices such as textile work. Phokojoe ingeniously transforms hessian cloth and found mannequin hands from medium to metaphor, to unravel the intricate layers of personal and collective identities.

Smiso Cele and Motheo Mamabolo – Of place and the Uncertain

The City of Gold is an amalgamation of all types of intangibles, perhaps most evident is a looming anxiety. We never shake off the feeling of not knowing what the next day will bring. The uncertainty births a constant productivity – to create what will come next. Seldom are we told to take five. Look around. What do you see? Instead, we are constantly colliding with answers to questions we have never understood. We soldier on. Of Place and the Uncertain explores the idea of Unknowing as mother and as a connecting force.




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