Stellenbosch Triennale Unwraps an Event of Healing Through Artistic Discourse

The Stellenbosch Triennale 2020, the brainchild of the Stellenbosch Outdoor Sculpture Trust takes place from 11 February to 30 April 2020 and will present a remarkable collection of artistic talents to construct an event in which contemporary African art will hold a critical dialogue with the society that fosters and exhibits it.

The theme Tomorrow There Will Be More of Us, which was conceived by Chief Curator and Artistic Director Khanyisile Mbongwa, runs as a thread throughout the seven multidisciplinary platforms. All will provide meeting points for engagement with the divided past, the collective present and imagined futures.

The curator’s exhibition has been conceived by Mbongwa, with co-curator Bernard Akoi-Jackson. It will feature 20 multidisciplinary artists, from a range of African countries.

On the list, selected by the curatorial team, are some of the world’s most revered artists whose works are situated at the borderline between avant-garde and mainstream: Conceptualist and sculptor Ibrahim Mahama (Ghana), Visual artist Sethembile Msezane (South Africa) and filmmaker Kivu Ruhorahoza (Rwanda) – to name a few.

Mbongwa sees the theme, and participants, as being part of a unfolding narrative. “For me, Tomorrow There Will Be More of Us is about imagining (and creating) common sustainable futures by looking at the wounds (their layers, complexities, and nuances) and instigating ways or methods of healing,” she says about her motivation for a show that will use multidisciplinary mediums to examine difficult histories. 

Recently appointed as Artist Director of the Stellenbosch Triennale, Mbongwa is a Cape Town-based independent curator, award-winning artist, and sociologist, who works with public space, interdisciplinary and performative practices unpacking the socio-political, socio-economic, socio-racial, gender-queer and historical-contemporary complexities and nuances of the everyday.

Proposing a broad idea that “art is a lens”, Mbongwa reflects on the collection of 20 artists who will exhibit at The Woodmill in Stellenbosch, and on the surrounding precinct.

“The selected artists share in a sense of imagination beyond the confines of geography,” Mbongwa says, “there is something mutual in the way they work with historical narratives, and also current narratives, to imagine what the futures could possibly look like — thus feeding into the title Tomorrow There Will Be More of Us.

Unpacking the theme further, Mbongwa notes: “We need to heal, and for that to happen – we have to be brave enough to look at the places that hurt the most, the places of discomfort. We need to sit and work through the pain and what better way than to ask artists, writers, creatives, and curators to ushers us through that journey.”

“I think of the histories of migration and the current human flow in the world – and how we need to rethink how we conceptualise and use space. So, there is a literal meaning to Tomorrow There Will Be More of Us, where human flow requires us to think about space and resource sharing beyond colour, gender, sexuality, religion, and traditional lines.”

“For this to happen, we need to acknowledge the injustices of the past and truly see each other as human, now.”

The Stellenbosch Triennale takes place from 11 February to 20 April 2020. On its main exhibition, The Curators’ Exhibition the Triennale will present the following artists:

Bronwyn Katz, South Africa

Donna Kukama, South Africa

Euridice Kala aka Zaituna Kala, Mozambique

Hellen Nabukenya, Uganda

Ibrahim Mahama, Ghana

Igshaan Adams, South Africa

Kaloki Nyamai, Kenya

Kelvin Haizel, Ghana

Kivu Ruhorahoza, Rwanda

Mongezi Ncaphayi, South Africa

Nástio Mosquito, Angola

Patrick Bongoy, DR Congo

Reshma Chhiba, South Africa

Ronald Muchatuta, Zimbabwe

Sethembile Msezane, South Africa

Stacey Gillian Abe, Uganda

Tracey Thompson, Ghana

Victor Ehikhamenor, Nigeria

Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Nigeria

Zyma Amien, South Africa 

The Stellenbosch Triennale takes place from 11 February to 30 April 2020.

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