‘Speaking Through Walls’
at Tyburn Gallery, London
Ends 13 April 2019
We are delighted to share that Tyburn Gallery is presenting Speaking Through Walls, Sethembile Msezane’s first UK solo exhibition. Using interdisciplinary practice encompassing performance, photography, film, sculpture and installation, Msezane creates commanding works laden with spiritual and political symbolism. The artist explores 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 with 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?’, and 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 practicing 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 fire, ready to burst forth for the next season in spite of the seeming barrenness.
This narrative of the recovery of land, spirituality and dignity comes at an important moment in history, when South Africa is grappling with the issue of land reform.
Sethembile Msezane was born in 1991 in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. She lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa. 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.
Using interdisciplinary practice encompassing performance, photography, film, sculpture and drawing, Msezane creates commanding works heavy with spiritual and political symbolism. The artist explores 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. Part of her work has examined the processes of mythmaking which are used to construct history, calling attention to the absence of the black female body in both the narratives and physical spaces of historical commemoration.
Msezane’s work has been widely exhibited across South Africa and internationally, and forms part of South African museum collections such as Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town; the Iziko South African National Gallery,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.
The exhibition is at the gallery, which is located on St. Christopher’s Place in Marylebone.
26 Barrett Street
London W1U 1BG