Matete Motubatse has been awarded the Barclays L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award and a three-month residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris for his video Moya.
Motubatse is a fourth year student at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. Apart from the Barclays L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award, is also the recipient of the 2016 South African Society of Arts (SASA) Prize.
In his video, Moya, Motubatse’s character attempts to blow a physical object – a plastic bag – off of his head by using his breath. The Sepedi word, moya translates to ‘breath’ but also means ‘air’, ‘spirit’ and/or ‘soul’. The material bag thus represents the material form of a nonphysical form that blocks the body from breathing. To use breath to contest the very object that suffocates air is equivalent to entering a spiritual, soulful battle as air, Moya/Breath breath, spirit and soul are all non-physical. The film Moya symbolises ntwa ya moya: an intense celestial battle of nonphysical forces.
Motubatse entered the L’Atelier for the first time in 2012 and almost didn’t enter this year – fortunately a friend convinced him. ‘I entered this artwork because I feel like it was very relevant to what is happening in the world. I make work that is more about bringing together a lot of interests.’ And his interests are wide ranging: ‘I express myself in many ways. I paint, which is usually for myself, and I write [poetry] as well. I also do printmaking. I believe that any artwork can be made; you just have to find the right medium for it.’
Motubatse’s work is incredibly influenced by the art world around him: ‘I go to galleries, especially STEVENSON. I make it my business to study all the art. I also follow pop culture. Particularly Rhythm Science by DJ Spooky, he’s basically talking about how DJing is a way of taking what’s already out there in the world and mixing it and owning it. So I took all these influences from all these industries and I ended up making this one work.’
The Gerard Sekoto Award
The Gerard Sekoto Award is sponsored by the Embassy of France in South Africa, the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) which is a cultural arm of the Embassy, and the Alliance Francaise network in South Africa.
For more information on the art competition, visit the Barclays L’Atelier website.