Tanzanian Winifrid Luena, one of the Absa L’Atelier Ambassadors for 2019, says that the award will bring much-needed exposure.
Winifrid Luena’s work for the Absa L’Atelier is a study of individuality over individualism. ‘There is a sense in the world, at times, that being an individual is a collective process,’ says Luena. ‘That it is part of a larger argument intended to bring some kind of human liberation, that it is an act of authority and power over the self. This is why I divide the two terms, individualism and individuality. If individualism is a process, then individuality is a state. It is a space occupied but that which is not adopted or accepted by the prevailing thoughts, attitudes, traditions, or even aesthetics of any given place. In a moment of difference, the ownership of this space is what the individual exudes as his contrast to what surrounds him can be taken as its own kind of attention. The harmony of that moment, in and among the discord it creates, is what fascinates me. Difference is separation, difference is struggle, yet difference is also truth. It reveals the implausibility, impracticality and impossibility of thinking the same.’
Leuna’s portfolio of work, which seems quite varied at first, ‘is all from one project. They are connected and they speak as one thing. It is about the relationship between an individual and the society in which s/he belongs and how s/he feels about that society.’
This self-taught artist, who works in photography, digital art and video art, says that his Absa L’Atelier win ‘means a lot to me because it’s a big opportunity: to grow up, to get to know other artists, other than the ones I know in Tanzania. Since I’m an artist, I need exposure, I need to know people to get my work out there. I believe winning this Absa L’Atelier is one of those opportunities that will bring me close to this.’
Luena also noted that in travelling to South Africa, he was quite excited to see the value that is placed on artworks in this country – and how open those he met were to his artistic concepts.
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