Focus

Bronwyn Katz, Donna Kukama, and Cinga Samson

Donna Kukama, To Be Announced, 2017. Courtesy: the artist and blank, Cape Town/Johannesburg

Donna Kukama, To Be Announced, 2017. Courtesy: the artist and blank, Cape Town/Johannesburg

Incorporating sculpture, installation, video and performance, Bronwyn Katz’s practice engages with the concept of land as a reposi- tory of memory, reflecting on the notion of place or space as lived experience, and the ability of the land to remember and communicate the memory of its occupation. Expressed in an abstract and minimal visual language using found and discarded bedsprings and mattresses, her wall- and floor-based wire sculptures are an exploration into the charting of existing places and memories as well as imagined spaces, or dreamscapes, and with them she investigates the potential of her materials to serve as markers and representations of space and memory.

Predominantly performance-based, Donna Kukama’s work often presents itself as moments within reality that question the way in which histories are narrated, as well as how value systems are constructed. Time is made material in Kukama’s work for Focus, which (re)counts the numbers of years and bodies lost to slavery. The Setswana text piece developed out of the performance Chapter C: The Genealogy of Pain, part of an ongoing series of performances that constitutes a “history book”. The proposed history book is not one that takes on a physical form of bound paper with written text, rather it presents chapters that exist as staged public encounters and performances. Using real and imagined histories, defying chronology, and sitting between performance, drawing, sculpture, video, text, and oral history, each chapter of the book revisits sites of violence (both physical and discursive) directed at and experienced by marginalized bodies. Intended as gestures of poetry with political intent, Kukama’s practice is a strategy for inserting a foreign, ‘alien’, voice and presence into various moments in history, as much as in existing territories of the public. Originally performed at the São Paolo biennale in 2016, Chapter C took place at the city’s Cemetery of Consolation, a burial site for slaves. Rendered in steel from automatic writings made by the artist during her ritualistic chanting of numbers, the text translates as: “Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds...”

The oil paintings of self-taught artist Cinga Samson (b. 1986, Cape Town, South Africa) address themes of youth, masculinity and spirituality against the backdrop of Post-colonialism. Figurative self-portraits, the works depict the artist in casual dress, posed in front of surreal landscapes - composites of his own fantasies and the rural scenery of South Africa. The dislocation between subject and background lend the paintings a traditional, almost anachronistic feeling. Recalling the smooth marble of classical sculpture, empty white eyes gaze out at the viewer – as if they were in fact turned inward – suggesting the preeminence of the interior life of the artist-subject over the external world. Celebrations of youth and blackness, his work “confidently explores male vulnerability in his darkly toned, oneiric painting style” (Sean O’Toole, 2018).

Bronwyn Katz has held three solo exhibitions to date, most recently A Silent Line, Lives Here at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2018). She has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including Not A Single Story (Nirox Foundation, Johannesburg, 2018); Sculpture (Institute of Contemporary Art Indian Ocean, Port Louis, Mauritius, 2018); Tell Freedom (Kunsthal KAdE, Amersvoort, 2018); Le jour qui vient (Galerie des Galeries, Paris, 2017); the 12th Dak’Art Biennale (Senegal, 2016); and The Quiet Violence of Dreams (Stevenson Gallery, Johannesburg, 2016). Katz is a founding member of iQhiya, an 11-women artist collective which has performed across various spaces, including Documenta (in Kassel and Athens), Greatmore Studios, and Iziko South African National Gallery. Born in 1993, in Kimberley, South Africa, Katz lives and works between Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Donna Kukama has presented performances at the South African National Gallery in Cape Town, SA; the Museum of Modern Art in Antwerp, BE; the New Museum in New York; and participated in the 12th Lyon Biennale; the 6th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art; the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo. She was recently one of the small group of artists invited to launch the 10th Berlin Biennale’s public program, and was also a part of the South African Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale. She is the 2014 recipient of the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Performance Art and was nominated for the MTN New Contemporaries Award (2010) and the Visible Award (as NON NON Collective) in 2011. She currently teaches at the Wits School of Arts in Johannesburg, SA and plans to complete her practice-led research PhD at the same institution. Kukama is also a member of the Center for Historical Reenactments (CHR – founded 2010. died 2012. haunted 2013. exorcised 2014. Musemified 2017). Born in 1981 in Mafikeng, South Africa, Kukama lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.

To date, Cinga Samson has held three solo exhibitions at blank projects: Safari Fantasy (2017), Ubugqoboka Magqoboka (2016) and Thirty Pieces of Silver (2015). He has participated in several group shows, including A Painting Today (Stevenson, Cape Town); In the night I remember curated by Kabelo Malatsie (Stevenson, Johannesburg); Our Fathers curated by Kirsty Cockerill and Chantal Louw (AVA Gallery, Cape Town) and Strata at Greatmore Studios, where he completed a residency in 2011. In 2017, Samson won the prestigious Tollman Award, and in 2018 he was exhibited alongside Nicholas Hlobo at the Maitland Institute, in a two-person exhibition titled Umthamo. Born in 1986, Samson lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa.