Three decades after the dismantling of apartheid began, South Africa's so-called "born free" generation has reached adulthood and its artists have used their work to navigate their difficult inheritance. At the same time, the historical distance between their experience and that of an older generation grows. Tell Me What You Remember reflects on this moment by bringing together two of South Africa’s most acclaimed contemporary artists.
In their respective practices, Sue Williamson (b. 1941) and Lebohang Kganye (b. 1990) incorporate oral histories into films, photographs, installations, and textiles to consider how the stories our elders tell us shape family narratives and personal identities. Implicitly and explicitly addressing legacies of racial violence and social injustice, their work offers a cross-generational dialogue on history, memory, and the power of self-narration.
The exhibition is curated by Emma Lewis, curator at Turner Contemporary, Margate, England.
Can art bring about social change? If so, do artists have a responsibility to make work that challenges state oppression? This was a crucial question for the artists of South Africa during the apartheid years. In this class, Tell Me What You Remember artist Sue Williamson introduces the powerful work of the country’s leading artists alongside the popular culture of the streets. The course also looks at how the bitter history of apartheid has influenced the rising generation of artists. Guest speakers will include fellow Barnes exhibitor Lebohang Kganye; artists Bongiwe Dhlomo, Sam Nhlengethwa, and Penny Siopis; and art historian Andrew Lamprecht.
The Box Museum, Plymouth, UK
04 Feb 2023 - 04 Jun 2023
Open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10am-5pm
For over 40 years, Williamson’s work has celebrated the underrated realisations of women, who played key roles not only in the liberation struggle, but in the years that followed. The artist speaks of her work as a ‘generational circle’ as it aims to bring these women and their histories to a wider audience, while also connecting the societal changes they allowed with the lives of their granddaughters and the younger generations.
The series A Few South Africans and All Our Mothers shine a light on the empowering stories of these women. A Few South Africans is a series of mixed media portraits, the heroines of the liberation struggle, while All Our Mothers is a parallel series of photographs dating from 1981, both in black and white and colour.
Between Memory and Forgetting is an exhibition that speaks about liberation struggles, those who are not memorialised due to power hierarchies and the role and recognition of women who have fought and are still fighting for a more equal society.