Third-year and select postgraduate students from the Centre for Visual Art (CVA) are showcasing work they created during their first semester at the Jack Heath Gallery in Pietermaritzburg.
Although much of the work focuses on identity, each student approached their subject in different ways with the various themes and projects providing them with opportunities to find their own identities and explore individual life experiences.
The work of two students, Mr Siphokazi Mlangeni and Ms Londeka Duma, focus on their gender and sexuality, concentrating mainly on the female body to convey not only their identity but their personal experiences. Duma’s work focuses on the African female body.
The theme of Life and Death was used by Mr Oliver Smith who explored concepts of how everything ages and decays as time passes. The upbringing and influence of culture were infused by Mr Jirell Ganesh, Mr Ndlovukazi Ngilande and Ms Mandisa Ntshangase, whose artworks focus heavily on the influence of heritage on a person’s identity.
Mr Noluvuyo Mandubu’s work explores stereotypes in identity. A common approach among students was to force themselves outside of their comfort zones to gain a better understanding of their identities.
Some artworks in the exhibition explore sensitive political and historical complexities of colonisation in the Magic Lantern Project. These works reference and interrogate a series of slides housed in the Zuid-Afrika Huis in Amsterdam – the works include, Mr Lindokhule Ngema’s monotypes and small paintings.
The exhibition also features images made for the Photovoice project – coordinated by Professor Jessica Draper – which explores gender-based violence (GBV), gender stereotypes and phobias. The students captured some of their personal experiences and shared them visually, including violence; the treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people, and simple gestures or lifestyles that make society create dangerous stereotypes.
CVA Academic Leader Dr Louise Hall said third-year students assisted by the centre’s Printmaking technician, Mr Khule Cele, displayed exceptional commitment and energy in curating the exhibition.
‘Their brief was to curate a selection of their best work produced last semester,’ said Hall. ‘Since the beginning of COVID-19, CVA students were involved in remote learning thus mainly presenting their work online. Digital exhibitions bring unique conundrums and advantages that differ from their physical presentation.
‘In this exhibit, students had to take responsibility for the entire curation process. They worked as a team, carefully consulting on the spatial quirkiness of the Jack Heath Gallery, combinations of artworks, the sensitive nature of some of the pieces, and how curation considers audience engagement.
‘This is an exciting exhibition which showcases some excellent work,’ she added.
The exhibition also features a catalogue detailing individual works by the artists and their personal statements.
The exhibition runs until the end of August. Appointments for viewings can be made at email to Muruganc@ukzn.ac.za