CLOSE’ Exhibition 24th May to 24th June 2018
Venue: Johannesburg Art Gallery. Johannesburg South Africa
Collaborators: !Kauru Art Project and UNDER GROUND
Curators: Nantume Violet (Uganda), Zingisa Nkonsinkulu (South Africa), Nyambura Waruingi (Kenya)
Featured the works of 11 artists
“CLOSE” was explores in relation to human experiences.‘CLOSE’ relating to proximity, and can refer to ‘tension-ridden’ space between, or even within humans. It illuminates experiences of ambivalence, delirium and entanglement. The exhibition interrogated tension as a critical moment of reflection on the liminal spaces between things and beings, between sex and desire. The exhibition featured contemporary artworks exploring themes of proximity, intimacy, personal space, tension, between things, perspiration, violence, discomfort, gender binaries, and breathlessness.
The space between the female body narrative and that of the male has grown exponentially. In the ‘a-woke-ning’ of sensitivities to ‘femaleness’ that has erupted in the world over the last few years, we have begun to recalibrate, redefine and re-measure this state of ‘closeness’. But there is still an element of discomfort shrouding the engagement with these subjects. The Exhibition saw casting a light on this very discomfort as a way of dismantling the social and psychological barriers that impede our access to the other. The project sought to rupture the fabric of society in order to find space to breathe and speak about tension. Although the concept of closeness can be explored in a personal, more self-reflective mode, the artists strove to bring us closer to the more nuanced, contextualized questions, and presented artworks which critiqued dominant perceptions and proffered different views from the spaces they occupied.
Being Her(e) Exhibition 24th Nov 2017 to 31st Jan 2018
Venue: Banco Economico Gallery. Luanda, Angola
Collaborators: !Kauru Art Project, Beyond Entropies Africa, This is not a white cube Gallery, UNDER GROUND
Curators: Nantume Violet (Uganda) and Paula Nanscimento (Angola/Portugal)
Featured the works of 11 artists
“The body is not a thing, it is a situation: it is our grasp on the world and our sketch of our project.”
Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex
The project is part of a sequence of exhibitions that had been organized by !Kauru Art Project from 2016 on a wide array of themes including sexuality, femininity, and various forms of human relationships in Africa. Being Her(e), extended the conversation started in 2016 with Being and Becoming: Complexities of the African Identity, an exhibition organized by !Kauru Art Project, which focused on questions around the ‘layerdness’ of our identit(ies) and on the urgency of forging new and even unorthodox ways of seeing and being African.
Featuring works of 14 female artists from the African continent and diaspora, Being Her(e) examines the historical and contemporary perceptions of what it means to have/be a female body in contemporary Africa. The double interplay in the title implies not only a presence denoted through time and space- being here – but also an irrefutable and defiant individuality of female presence, which articulates itself in the individuality of presence – being her.
Drawing from a social historiography of the body, particularly the female body, Being Her(e) proffers a candid reflection on the “mythification” of the female body, reenacting and performing ‘woman’ and femaleness. It does so by exploring several themes relating to the social construction of ‘femaleness”, themes ranging from gender, to agency, subjectivity, memory, belonging, sexuality, and identity. The exhibition invokes the body as a locus – an intimate and collective space and a site for social and political inscription, where history is contested, and fantasies are played out. It also addresses the constraints and impacts of temporality and spatiality on transitions from girlhood into womanhood within the African cosmology. Furthermore, we consider notions of (self-) representation and what it means to live and leave, and ideas of memory and personal geographies.
Being Her(e) examines, confronts, and contextualizes challenges that sometimes define the social (cultural), historical and contemporary notions of what it means to be/have a female body in Africa as well as the African diaspora. It questions preconceived ideas about womanhood and femaleness, opening up scope for broader reflection on the theme of identity and its representations.
Being Her(e): Meditations on African Femininities Exhibition May to June 2017
Venue: Constitutional Hill. Johannesburg – South Africa
Collaborators: !Kauru Art Project and UNDER GROUND.
Curators: Refilwe Nkomo (South Africa), Thato Mogotsi (South Africa), Mentored by Nantume Violet (Uganda) and Paula Nanscimento (Angola/Portugal)
Featuring works of 13 artists, the exhibition Being Her(e): Meditations on African Femininities, essentially constituted a multifaceted guided tours by curators. Being Her(e) examines and interrogates the complexities of what has come to be understood as African femininities and the narratives of femininity emanating from contemporary African and African diasporic experiences. This theme is further interrogated from the perspective of gender and sexuality, particularly in the wake of the spotlight in 2017 on sex-related violence against women in South Africa. Sexuality is still a highly contested subject, often shrouded by a thick veil of socially imposed sanctions and silence, and is understood in a peculiar way in South Africa/Africa and across the world. Within the African continent South Africa is perceived to be more liberal for being a constitutionally representative nation that respects the rights and sexual preferences of its citizens. In other parts of the continent this is not usually the case, hence the many questions of the several ways in which socialization of sexuality is expressed across the continent.
Indulgence: Fluidities, Possibilities, Evolutions 6th April to 24th May 2018
Venue: Goethe Zentrum Nairobi Kenya
Collaborators: UNDER GROUND and Broken Metatarsal Productions
Curators: Nantume Violet (Uganda), Nyambura Waruingi (Kenya)
Featured the works of 6 artists
Indulgence Exhibition is a trans-disciplinary journey weaving multiple reflections on sexualities, genders, and desires and exploring their fluidities, contestations, and evolutions. Featuring photography, installations, sculpture, erotica, and video, this multi-media exhibition experiments with notions of art as exploration, with the artists presenting their ideas in various stages of development, thus reliving with the audiences, the intense journey of creating art. Indulgence showcases works from East African artists— Yaye Kassamali, James Muriuki, Stacey Gillian Abe, Henry ‘Mzili’ Mujunga, and Neo Musangi.
The artists seek to deconstruct and penetrate the persistent boundaries of social constructions of ‘femaleness’, desire, and pleasure. The artists explore questions about performance of masculinities, shame and sexuality, and about non-binary gender identities. Indulgence plays with and reflects upon the dynamisms and fluidities in our societies, which are often dismissed as un-African, un-natural, or against ‘culture’. It wrestles with language to develop its own lexicon. And even while exploring contemporary notions of these concepts, it never loses sight of the contextualities of their origins. The idea is to produce an understanding of the female that is at once contemporary and ‘homegrown’ (rooted in the experience of being female in Africa).
Eroticism and Intimacy II
FNB Joburg Art Fair 2016 Johannesburg, South Africa
09 Sep 2016 – 11 Sep 2016
The exhibition aims to create spaces and platforms where people can critically and actively scrutinize issues relating to gender and sexuality in the public domain and to be able to express their views freely. East Africa, and in particular Uganda, has come to represent the preeminent abuse of both gender and sexuality across Africa, and internationally, through various public law enforcement and mobilized acts of violence.
Acts associated with non-traditional sexualities are either criminalized or highly stigmatized. Various reports show the inhumane approach to women and queer bodies. Matters of gender and sexuality have become a political as much as cultural debate. This edition of Eroticism and Intimacy at the JoburgArtFair 2016 seeks to engage with the controversies surrounding sex in the twin arenas of religion and culture. This takes place against the backdrop of society’s current moral perspectives on the subject of sexuality.
The Joburg edition will build on the Body Pedagogy workshops that took place during the first Eroticism and Intimacy exhibition in Kampala in March 2016. The workshops were designed and facilitated by Moses Serubiri together with Rebecca Rwakabukoza as the moderator. The workshops provided a discursive and pedagogical environment for academics, writers, critics, artists, activists, and opinion leaders in society to explore the body’s relation to gender and sexuality. The workshops generated reflections on and contributed useful ideas to the subject while attempting to apply these to the sex politics of culture and religion in East Africa.
Eroticism, sexual desire, intimacy and familiarity (or friendship)are central themes in the inquiry of this project. Moral attitudes in society are largely influenced by religious and cultural teachings, which beg the questions: How are gender and sexuality perceived in relation to the body? How do we reveal or conceal sexual desire in relation to our own bodies or with other people? How have we explored the paths to places of intimacy and eroticism even when they fall far outside the bounds of society’s moral outlook and expectations?
While the faces, places and paths that relate to intimacy and sexual desire are innumerable, oftentimes women and men are paralyzed and unable to explore these options due to the moral attitudes of society towards intimacy, attitudes that are bred by both culture and religion. The clash between eroticism and these attitudes limit the adventurous expression of sexual desire, and curtail the exploration of intimacy as women and men choose to follow the beaten path
Eleven artworks by four artists will be on display at the fair. Whereas the themes are bound to attract a degree of controversy, we are optimistic that these selected artworks will spark a public and personal desire among the viewers to strip away their negative views about alternative paths to eroticism and thus be able to freely partake of and enjoy unbridled intimacy.