Kemang Wa Lehulere is the recipient of the 2015 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for visual art. His work as an artist emerges out of the tensions between the individual and the forces of history, and the ways in which we make sense of that relationship – whether through the intimate and familiar or through the grand narratives of national and global politics.
Wa Lehulere’s practice incorporates live performance and its ‘artefacts’ (video footage, photographs, scripts and other records), a feature that was central to his involvement in artist collectives such as Gugulective and the Centre for Historical Reenactments. History will Break your Heart entails a very different set of collaborations – both with his aunt, Sophia Lehulere, and with artists such as Ernest Mancoba and Gladys Mgudlandla who have been marginalised and “written out of history”. Wa Lehulere affirms that including them in the exhibition is “an act of love” – of paying homage.
Prominent installations in the exhibition bring together the personal (members of the artist’s family, his frustrations with educational institutions) and the wider socio-political story (mining, poverty and a history of violent suppression by the South African state). Throughout, History will Break your Heart is informed by a powerful sense of the debt we owe to our collective and individual pasts – and a desire to continue unearthing the bones and buried treasures that lie there.
Exhibition: History will Break your Heart
Artist: Kemang Wa Lehulere
Venue: Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg
Dates: 16 April to 18 June 2016
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