Speaking through Walls

Speaking through Walls
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From January 25 to April 13, 2019, Tyburn Gallery will present Speaking Through Walls, Sethembile Msezane’s first UK solo exhibition.

Employing an interdisciplinary practice encompassing performance, photography, film, sculpture and installation, Msezane creates commanding works laden with spiritual and political symbolism, exploring issues around spirituality, commemoration and African knowledge systems. She processes her dreams as a medium through a lens of the plurality of existence across space and time, asking questions about the remembrance of ancestry.

For this exhibition, Msezane has created a body of work, which consists of photographic pieces as well as larger installations. These works present surreal dreamscapes in which the artist experiences psychic encounters with her own self and her ancestors; an exploration of her profound connection with others who have inhabited the physical landscapes depicted. Spiritual and historical relationships to these specific South African and Zimbabwean landscapes are explored, laying bare the violence and dispossession experienced during colonialism and Apartheid, but also revealing additional layers of history – the greatness of earlier indigenous civilisations, architects of monumental cultural, technological and spiritual systems.

Reflecting upon a difficult past, the artist asks the question, ‘How do we begin to humanise ourselves in spaces and on grounds that have been fertilised by bloodshed?’. She reflects on mending the spiritual tear that came with the looting of land that carries the bones, memories, rituals and traditions of African ancestry. This body of work finds traces of ordinary people practising cleansing and prayer in these landscapes, most of which are nestled close to urban settings. These spaces carry historical baggage, but they also carry possibility, in the same way, that plants, like the fynbos that grows there, are stimulated to grow in the aftermath of a fire, ready to burst forth for the next season in spite of the seeming barrenness.

Sethembile Msezane was born in 1991 in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. She lives and works in Cape Town. She was awarded a Masters in Fine Arts in 2017 from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, where she also completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2012. Msezane’s work has been widely exhibited across South Africa and internationally. It was included in All Things Being Equal…, the inaugural exhibition of the Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town, and forms part of the museum’s collection, as well as that of the Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town, and the University of South Africa (UNISA), Johannesburg. In 2015, during protests by the Rhodes Must Fall Movement, she presented the performance Chapungu – The Day Rhodes Fell at the removal of the Cecil John Rhodes statue at the University of Cape Town.


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