This is my story through an endless journey through Zanele Muholi’s Somnyama Ngonyama at the National Arts Festival 2016:
So, I saw Zanele’s work once more. I’ve seen this particular work last week, twice already. I was so amazed…again! I couldn’t get enough of it and what the work did to me was beyond expression. I remember the very first time I walked through the gallery, it was as though I had been there before. The only slight problem I had was not viewing it with someone I know, well more like someone who knows me very well. So, what then???
Today, July 8th, I went back to the gallery and funny enough, it felt like the first time ever to see this exhibition… never mind that the two young ladies (Rhodes University BFA & Chemistry students) were once again there, smiling at the entrance 🙂 AAAAND laughing that I was back again. I talked with those girls like we’ve known each other for years. We talked about mostly about the exhibition, well, that’s all we talked about and how we related to it. I was grateful to hear that a group of art students I’d met after my first encounter with Zanele’s work made it through after I (surely) bored them with this piece and that piece and “aargh, I can’t explain it man. You just have to go check out the exhibition yourself”.
I once more went through the gallery, I loved what I saw. I couldn’t comprehend entirely of the different emotions that swam deep within as I feasted on her work. Piece by piece, I was drawn in more and more. I smiled. I laughed. I was saddened. I almost cried. I smiled some more. I wanted to scream. I wanted to shout. I wanted to jump up high. I wanted to bounce all around the space like a child who just discovered the toy store. The vast use of texture. That just got to me…as I was walking through, someone who knows me more than most walked right in… 🙂 I smiled. I was excited. Finally! Someone who will relate!!
Upon leaving, we conversed about the “Brave Beauties” and who my favourites were, and why. This is part of her work, with gay men.
Pointing at my fav “Brave Beauties” collection
How these “Brave Beauties” were not bothered or boxed by society’s so-called perfect body – which doesn’t exist, really. These were beauties striking their best poses, my favs in undies. They had beautiful natural expressions on their bodies that have over the years been dubbed as imperfections…crazy world we live in…they had beautiful stretch marks, wound scars, chipped nail enamel. I totally related to that. I am yet to get the bug of fake nails or putting on layers of make-up to perfect what’s already naturally perfect… I wonder how many “women” or “ladies” would actually strike such a pose with all their natural marks.
After numerous times of “angie, please turn around so I can take a pic of you” 🙂
I fell in love with “Somizi
Sincwala, Parktown, Johannesburg, 2014” this was before I knew of the title. I just fell in love with the pose, the “yeah whatever you say or think about me doesn’t matter to me. It only reflects how uncomfortable you are about me” I just love the pose and the hair, so powerful – I don’t think it had anything to do with the so-called “yeah we’re all natural now” trend. It’s an expression. A statement. Then there’s a chain accessory. I remember throwing it out there 🙂 “I wonder what’s the significant of that chain”… Could it possibly be the “box” or “discomfort” I’d mentioned earlier???
Before we left the gallery, I just had to take the last drool over my favourite piece of this work…so, eventually I asked “what do you think of this piece”? and to my surprise, standing here with someone who knows me more than most responds “it actually reminds me of you. This is so you in all measures.”
I was amazed that someone else other than me would tell me that they see glimpse of me in this particular artwork. I remember talking with the BFA student when I first visited the exhibition and when I entered the gallery today… so on our way out, I called her and asked my friend repeat what we’d said about that piece and she was amazed that I didn’t see myself in it alone 🙂 AND then there was the “what’s the name of the piece?”…. guess what?
“Zodwa II, Amsterdam 2015”. Now, isn’t that mind-blowing???