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Into the Light

Into the Light

Roger Ballen » Lebohang Kganye » Phumulani Ntuli »

Exhibition: – 27 Nov 2022

The Venice Biennale

Ca' Giustinian San Marco 1364
30124 Venezia

Venice Biennale - SOUTH AFRICA




South Africa’s national exhibition for Biennale Arte 2022 reflects the theme ‘Into the Light’ which complements the overarching theme ‘The Milk of Dreams’.

In order to fully grasp the existential threats facing humanity, and consequently redefine how we interact with our ecosystems and other species, we must first understand and define ourselves, our vision and our goals.

This requires earnest introspection and self-discovery through delving into the alternate realm of fantasy and imagination, as key elements of our psyche are often buried in the subconscious. In the daily hubbub of normal life, this process of introspection is often deferred due to more pressing priorities.

The ‘new normal’ of the COVID-19 lockdowns and quarantines enforced isolation and solitude. While this was justifiably viewed as symptomatic of another threat facing humanity, ‘Into the Light’ proposes that adversity can bring opportunity. Being cloistered in our homes, unable to travel or engage personally with our peers, afforded us the time and undistracted privacy to redefine our self-identity and seek personal truth. This, in turn, allows us to frame our personal contribution to the collective imperative to place humanity on a healthier, safer and more sustainable path.

The South African Department of Arts and Culture team for the 59th Venice Biennale, including: Roger Ballen, Lebohang Kganye, Phumulani Ntuli, Amè Bell, Thuli Mlambo-James and Grace Rapholo

Three South African artists will be showcased during the Biennale Arte 2022 – namely:

Dr. Roger Ballen, the photographer who was initially inspired by the etchings that women prison inmates had created by scraping off the paint used to black out the windows of their prison cells. For his The Theatre of the Apparitions showcase, he developed his own technique, coating glass in special paints, etching off the coating and backlighting the glass. This technique results in a monochromatic theatrical world in which fantasy figures engage with swirling shadowy apparitions in bizarre rituals.

In B(l)ack to Fairy Tales, Ms. Lebohang Kganye casts and photographs herself autobiographically as the protagonist in the Westernised fairy tales of her childhood but sets these one-act cameos in a South African township. The ‘happily ever after’ fantasy milieu of the fairy tale is contrasted with the grim reality of her township life as a child, challenging the pervasive effect that the mythical folklore has on our psyche and world view.

Mr. Phumulani Ntuli’s Godide, is a work that utilises stop-motion animation. In this photo-realistic realm, Mr. Ntuli portrays himself as an intrepid explorer, discarding his traditional African attire to shed notions of self-identity before diving beneath the paper cut-out waves. In this watery fantasy realm which is accessible only through the imagination, he experiences the vast diversity of self-identity, cultural association, places of belonging as well as states of being that are possible in the geopolitical scope.