This iteration of the biennial includes experimental and cross-boundary commissions and projects by 15 artists from five countries on the African continent. Hlobo, Muholi and Wa Lehulere feature in The South African Pavilion without Walls. In this section Performa brings together artists who have developed deeply personal and individual vocabularies in the post-apartheid era, inviting them to share their complex creative strategies and conceptual frameworks, and articulate their particular concerns within the context of the global conversation.
Kemang Wa Lehulere
For Performa 17, Wa Lehulere will present I cut my skin to liberate the splinter, a dynamic sound installation. Wa Lehulere works with theatre director Chuma Sopotela to activate his new sculptures, which become amplified instruments that can be played by musicians and performers. The artist also composes an accompanying sound work that was galvanised by Cosmic Africa, the 2003 documentary about Thebe Medupe, an astrophysicist who travelled throughout the continent and shared knowledge about the universe, ancient artwork in Namibia and Egypt, and myths with villagers along the way. This work bridges planes of knowledge with constellations drawn from indigenous astrology, tribal wisdom and religious rites.
3 November, 8:30pm — 9:30pm
4 November, 8:30pm — 9:30pm
5 November, 8:30pm — 9:30pm
The Connelly Theater, 220 E 4th Street
For Performa 17, Muholi will travel across New York’s five boroughs, meeting with LGBTQI youth of colour and other groups, stretching her project beyond the gallery walls and into the very fabric of the city through a series of social events, performances and interactive installations featuring large-scale photographs of people in her community. The project is titled Masihambisane – On Visual Activism.
4 November, 9:00 – 11:00pm
Performa AFTERHOURS featuring Zanele Muholi & BEARCAT. Zanele Muholi and performers, dancers and singers from South Africa light up Public Arts. This night also features London-born, Brooklyn-based DJ and producer BEARCAT. AFTERHOURS includes collaborations by musicians, visual artists, music producers, dancers and club hosts, creating a lively program that draws on the vitality of New York City.
Public Arts, 215 Chrystie Street, New York
5 November, 4:00pm — 6:00pm
The Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art hosts an information station created by Zanele Muholi where visitors can learn about LGBTQI rights in South Africa and Muholi’s long-term activism. This activation is a potent, interactive connection between South Africa and New York City.
Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, 26 Wooster Street
Tuesday, 7 November, 7:00pm
Zanele Muholi and writer StaceyAnn Chin talk about their work as part of the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance‘s (BAAD) series of ‘Courageous Conversations: Strategies for Living and Loving in America.’ This community/education forum is a mix of topical talks and workshops led by leading thinkers, makers and doers in arts, media and politics, followed by a facilitated/open community forum.
Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, 2474 Westchester Avenue
Wednesday, 8 November, 2:00pm
Muholi delivers a lecture on visual activism at the Schomburg Center.
Schomburg Center, 515 Malcolm X Blvd
Thursday, 9 November, 9:00pm
Muholi will present an interactive public installation of her #VisualActivism as a gift to the people of New York at the historic Stonewall Inn. Selected works from Faces and Phases will be exhibited, Difficult Love (2010) will be screened and the evening will feature and performances and DJs.
Stonewall Inn, 53 Christopher Street
Friday, 10 November, 7:00pm
The grand finale for Muholi’s city wide #VisualActivism project takes place at the Bronx Museum for the Arts. With performances by Muholi’s team of Africa-based performers and activists, and local artists from The Bronx, this evening is the culminating celebration of two very full weeks of meetings, performances, discussions, and art-making, all the elements of Muholi’s work as a #VisualActivist.
The Bronx Museum, 1040 Grand Concourse
Hlobo’s presentation at Performa 17 expands on an earlier four–part performative installation, first seen in his 2016 exhibition Sewing Saw. The performances umBhovuzo: The Parable of the Sower; Lo’de litshone; Umbhaduli; Uthekwane feature dress-clad men engaged in the following gestures – the perpetual act of sewing, sitting in leisurely yet alert repose, meditative wandering around space, and introspective mirror-gazing. Hlobo’s interest in engaging with historical objects from domestic interiors contributes to each work’s conceptual and material multiplicity. He adopts the aesthetic of sewing machines, workstations and other apparatus that symbolise industrial self-sufficiency while critically observing prescribed gender roles that shape domesticity, labour, and globalisation.
18 November. 10:00am —12:00pm; 2:00pm — 4:00pm
19 November. 10:00am —12:00pm; 2:00pm — 4:00pm
258 118th Street, New York, NY 10030