Born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Wezile Mgibe’s interdisciplinary practice encompasses performance, visuals and installation as a tool for social change, and exercises a strong movement improvisation technique in doing so. Mgibe has training in contemporary dance, Jazz and Afro fusion, and he possess a musical theatre background. Mgibe is currently in residence at the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios, as one of the three recipients of the prestigious David Koloane Award, and presents Collecting bodies, as part of the award. “Baxelele Mabahambe” was an instruction coming from Thozama’s Mother after she found out her Lesbian daughter was killed by one of the community members when the public visited her in KwaNoBuhle. In Collecting Bodies we enter into healing rituals that evoke the returning of souls – those who were abducted and assaulted as a result of sexual preferences and personal choices – to their rightful homes. The performance forms part of a series of ongoing works around post-apartheid trauma called In These Streets.
Oupa L. Sibeko is an interdisciplinary artist and scholar whose remarkable work has been shown around and outside South Africa. His interdisciplinary praxis moves between theatrical, gallery, scholarly and other public contexts, overtly dealing with matter and politics of the body as a site of contested knowledge. His work is durational, relational and trans-temporal. This is perhaps what makes Oupa’s work important in Southern Africa today. It overtly transgresses boundaries of conventions of public culture. Sibeko is one of the three winners of this year’s David Koloane Award, presented by the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios, and presents Forking Knife, as part of the award. “I hate taking off my glasses because my eyes go from 1080p full HD to Buffering at 240p and I just cannot handle it,” says Oupa, “Forking knife is a performance art piece that is visually confrontational, inviting viewers to engage with a black body in a three-leg iron cast pot wheeled around in a donkey cart by a white body. It is an invitation to engage with everyday politics, politics of identity, race, wealth and the black and white body in relation to art making and consumption.”
Neo Diseko is a Johannesburg born and based artist. They’re currently completing their master’s degree in Visual Art at the University of Johannesburg. Neo’s work interrogates the politics around the queer body and its orientation to symbolic and physical spaces. Neo was shortlisted for this year’s David Koloane Award, presented by the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios, and presents (In)between, as part of the award. “My project is centred on notions of queer in/visibility,” explains Neo. “I explore the how my queer body orients itself in public spaces in and around the Alexandra township. As opposition to Alexandra township, I also evaluate how this identity manifests in alternative public spaces such the gallery spaces I frequent as Naomi; a trans womxn alter ego of mine… I speak to notions of queer in/visibility and how it manifests in public space such as the Alexandra township in relation to these alternative and often safer spaces such as galleries.”
Helena Uambembe was born in Pomfret, South Africa in 1994 to Angolan parents who fled the civil war. Her father was a soldier in the 32 Battalion, a military unit within the South African Defence Force mainly made up of black Angolan men. The 32 Battalion and her Angolan heritage are dominant themes in Helena’s work, in which she explores narratives surrounding the Battalion, interweaving connected symbols and archival material. Helena is one of the Bag Factory’s three 2019 David Koloane Award winners, and presents Therapy for the Black man (in honour of…), as part of the award.
Janine Bezuidenhout is an artist who uses performance and mixed-media installation to create utopias in which she cares for her mental health. Her alter ego ‘Janine Whitney Lucy Pubs’ is a character that she developed in order to discuss her own mental health, with vulnerability and honesty. The character is fluid and destructive. This ego is a survivor of heartbreak, addiction, dis-ease and self-harm. Janine was shortlisted for this year’s prestigious David Koloane Award, presented by the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios, and presents COMPENSATION FOR YOUR MOURNING (A love letter to myself), as part of the award. “This project serves as a note to my younger self,” explains Janine, “whom I wish will understand better what it means to define societal norms and not fit in… I’m using art to heal: heartbreak, deceit, longing for honesty, love and care. This is a love letter to myself and future selves that I was here for them, to talk about the things they needed to hear.”