Writing Art History Since 2002

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Wits Art Museum has announced ‘Ways-of-Remembering-Existing’, a solo exhibition by donna Kukama. The exhibition spans the various aspects of Kukama’s practice to include performance, works on canvas, sculptural objects, video and a site-specific installation.

Courtesy of the artist & blank projects.
Courtesy of the artist & blank projects.

The title, ‘Ways-of-Remembering-Existing’, is rooted in Kukama’s ongoing PhD creative research which critiques existing narratives of history and traditional modes of storytelling. Through her practice, Kukama proposes texts – written with and through time, breath, and memory – and objects whose grammar is opacity and ephemerality.

Amongst the other works in the exhibition, Kukama will also present aspects of a project begun in 2015: ‘a history book for those who absolutely need to be remembered’. The Book was originally conceived as a tool for questioning and rethinking memorials, monuments, and national commemorations within the South African landscape, and has since presented chapters in a range of other contexts.

donna Kukama is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice engages performance art as a tool for creative research. Her work presents institutions, monuments, gestures of protest, rumours, and fleeting moments that are as real as they are fictitious. Shifting between performance, video, text, sound, and multimedia installations, her practice takes on a form that is experimental, applying methods that are deliberately undisciplined. She uses performance as a strategy that allows her to invent as well as to apply methods that are outside the canon of what is predictable or expected. She questions how histories are narrated and subverts how value systems are constructed, often cantering methods perspectives that originate from the Global South. Through her practice, she weaves major with minor aspects of histories, introducing fragile and brief moments of ‘strangeness’ within sociopolitical settings. Her performances are to be understood as gestures of poetry with a political intent and an urgent need to destabilise existing canons regarding the ways we look at reality. For Kukama, performance becomes a strategy for inserting foreign ‘undocumented’ voices and presences into history by occupying sites and territories that remember less-told stories.

Kukama has exhibited and presented performances at several notable institutions and museums, including the Tate Modern in London; Nottingham Contemporary in Nottingham; Padiglione de’Arte Contemporanea Milano in Milan; South African National Gallery in Cape Town; Museum of Modern Art in Antwerp; nGbK in Berlin; and the New Museum in New York. She has participated in, among others, the 10th Berlin Biennale; the 57th Belgrade Biennale; 12th Lyon Biennale; the 6th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art; 32nd Bienal de São Paulo; 3rd New Museum Triennale; 1st Stellenbosch Triennale; 8th Berlin Biennale and the 55th Venice Biennale (as part of the South African Pavilion). She was the 2014 recipient of the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Performance Art in South Africa, and nominated for the 2010 MTN New Contemporaries Award in South Africa.

The exhibition will be on view from the 31st of August until the 5th of November 2022. The exhibition was made possible with the support of blank projects, Goethe Institut, VIAD UJ and FNB Art Joburg. For more information, please visit WAM.

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