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‘Attached to the Soil’ and ‘Feminism ya Mang’ | Two new exhibitions come to NWU Gallery

Two collaborative and engaging new group exhibitions come to the North-West University (NWU) Gallery this August, namely Attached to the Soil and Feminism ya Mang, Feminism Yethu, Feminism Yani, showing at NWU’s Main Gallery and Botanical Gallery respectively.

Attached to the Soil (11 August – 16 September 2022)

North-West University (NWU) Gallery in collaboration with Visual Narratives and Creative Outputs (ViNCO), the Fulbright Scholar Program and the Michigan State University presents the Attached to the Soil exhibition at the NWU Main Gallery.

Attached to the Soil NWU Gallery Nelson Mandela
Masetle Lydia Matlhare © 2019 Peter Glendinning

In 2019, Professor Peter Glendinning, Fulbright Scholar and professor in Art, Art History and Design at Michigan State University, USA, visited several South African universities where he collaborated with staff and students on the collaborative project, Attached to the Soil. The project’s title and genesis is the metaphor proposed by former president Nelson Mandela in his first words to the people of South Africa upon his inauguration in 1994:

‘To my compatriots. I have no hesitation in saying that each one of us is as intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the Bushveld. Each time one of us touches the soil of this land, we feel a sense of personal renewal.’ – Nelson Mandela, 10 May 1994

Attached to the Soil NWU Gallery Nelson Mandela
Liam Rothballer © 2019 Peter Glendinning

At the NWU Potchefstroom campus, Glendinning collaborated with students and members of the research niche ViNCO to create their own photographic projects. The students were asked to develop their own metaphor derived from their perception of South Africa, to collaborate with Glendinning in recording an oral history interview regarding the insights and story of their chosen portrait subject, and to create a tableau portrait of the sitter in a setting that captured the metaphor and the sitter’s oral narrative.

The product of this phase (2019) of the project was a collection of 50 portraits, each accompanied by the students’ metaphors and the stories of the portrait subjects. Those works comprise the content of the exhibit, Attached to the Soil.

Attached to the Soil NWU Gallery Nelson Mandela
Kerneels Greyling © 2019 Peter Glendinning

This year, in a Fulbright Specialist Project coordinated by the University of Pretoria, Glendinning will visit six South African universities where the 50 portraits and accompanying oral history accounts will be exhibited. The exhibition takes place at NWU Gallery with the launch of an exhibition catalogue, walkabouts and photography workshops for students and emerging artists. The workshop participants will be invited to create their own new projects based on the original concept, including soil-related metaphors, oral history interviews and locations portraits of subjects with the relevant life experiences. The new projects will be exhibited worldwide on the digital platform of the Global Youth Advancement Network (GYAN), hosted by the Michigan State University International Studies and Programs.

Feminism ya Mang, Feminism Yethu, Feminism Yani (11 August – 2 September)

NWU Gallery in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut South Africa, presents the group exhibition Feminism ya Mang, Feminism Yethu, Feminism Yani curated by Samantha Modisenyane and Masechaba Moloi, on exhibition at the NWU Botanical gallery.

Feminism ya Mang NWU Gallery
Lulama ‘Wolf’ Mlambo, The existence is lived, 2020, Print (reproduction), 570 x 430,50mm

Featuring artists Jodi Bieber, Amy Ayanda, Teresa Firmino, Helena Uambembe, Jabu Nadia Newman, Kelly Johnson, Lulama ‘Wolf’ Mlambo, Saaiqa and Thato Ramaisa, Feminism ya Mang is the visual exploration on how we define womanhood, sexuality, age and feminism; key themes that come with such an engagement; and the ways in which notions on gender and queerness can redefine our understandings.

By engaging with this complexity, the exhibition aims to celebrate the diversity of knowledge that contributes to our regional experience of Feminisms. We acknowledge that this notion is not static and is constantly being challenged by a myriad of lived experiences.

Feminism ya Mang NWU Gallery
Thato Ramaisa LEFT Bafana Khumalo, Alexandra, 2021 RIGHT Glow, Marshall Town, 2020. Digital photographic prints A2 x A2

The exhibition is a reflection of the diversity of experiences and expressions in being woman in spaces such as those represented in this installation. It explores the way in which woman engage with and exist within these realities. The installation text, particularly, focuses on some of the words, emotions and memories associated with the spaces and interrogates what this means in a local context.

Feminism ya Mang was conceptualised by Samantha Modisenyane and Masechaba Moloi in collaboration with Danai Mupotsa, Motlatsi Khosi and Lindiwe Mngxitama. The Learning Feminisms is a regional project that was initiated by the Goethe-Institut in Kigali, Rwanda. Feminism Ya Mang, Yethu, Yani first opened at the Goethe-Institut Johannesburg in May 2021 as part of the South African iteration of Learning Feminisms.

The programming for the exhibition was presented online to adapt to the Covid-19 restrictions on public gatherings and is also available here.

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