RUNNING from July 26 to August 13 at the KZNSA Gallery in Durban is an exhibition by the iQhiya collective of 11 black women creatives, whose bodies of work have collided to make a topical and riveting experience.
The women involved in the project live and work in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Botswana, where they delve into the realms of performance art, installation, video art, photography and other media.
At the core of the group are shared personal and professional experiences that help shape each individual artist through various projects and exhibitions.
iQhiya features work by Bonolo Kavula, Matlhogonolo Charity Kelapile, Bronwyn Katz, Matlhogonolo Pinky Mayeng, Thulile Gamedze, Lungiswa Gqunta, Asemahle Ntlonti, Thandiwe Msebenzi, Sethembile Msezane, Sisipho Ngodwana and Buhlebezwe Siwani. The artists have used a variety of media: digital, print and sculpture.
Their joint statement explains: “Our works speak individually and collectively, about voids, tensions and histories; lingering between the materiality of everyday existence, and the imaginative, fantastical futures where one might be free.
“We have been working profoundly in our personal capacities, with each artwork speaking volumes individually and powerfully as a collective: probing and creating debates surrounding why, we as black women, do we only become relevant as a collective voice.”
The collective has emerged in a time where there are contested notions of the roles of gender and tradition within contemporary South Africa, and where the centre of power is no longer solely defined by masculinity. As a set of emerging artists, they are determined to extend their practice to a broader audience.
iQhiya – directly translated meaning the head covering or headband – seems to equally reveal and conceal elements of black female-ness.
There is an inter-generational connection between those that wrap their heads – an ancient inequality that targets black women at the intersections of their race and gender, and this potent violence continues to unfold and unfurl in newer and more clever ways in the contemporary era.
We exist in a space of tension, which parallels that of iQhiya- a signifier of both strength and burden with the daily realities we face as young black women.
The work produced by iQhiya is at once playful and sombre. It tells stories of childhood, the future, and stories of the often veiled black female imagination.
The group exhibition has travelled and been exhibited in Athens, Greece, and Kassel, Germany. The artists are hosting a public walkabout, to enlighten interested parties about their work on Thursday, July 27 at 9 am and again on Saturday, July 29 at 9 am.
There will also be a KZNSA LAB TALK on Thursday, July 27 at 6pm with the seven exhibiting artists. Qhiya would like to invite women creatives to participate in this seminar at KZNSA gallery.
The seminar seeks to create a space of sharing, discussion and reflection, which advocates the engagement for women and their professional practice. Through the creation of this space of visibility the seminar hopes to contribute to the empowerment of women voices, as well as to promote interdisciplinary networks between women.
The seminar will take the form of a fish bowl discussion and everyone will be free to contribute. RSVP is essential for the LAB TALK, phone 031 277 1705 or email firstname.lastname@example.org