Writing Art History Since 2002

First Title

We make plans, but to what extent can we govern the future?

This exhibition is an autobiographical reflection of the Nobukho Nqaba‘s childhood home and upbringing. It highlights the precariousness of daily life within an informal settlement in Grabouw. Many people migrated to this community with bundled up ambitions and modest possessions all packed tightly into checkered plastic bags, commonly known as China bags. They moved in hope for better work; jobs that would eventually require them to dress in sweat-stained blue overalls.

Nobukho Nqaba, Untitled, 2012. LightJet photographic print, 84,1 x 118,9cmNobukho Nqaba, Untitled, 2012. LightJet photographic print, 84,1 x 118,9cm. All images courtesy of the artist.

The notion of home became associated with meagre living conditions, one or two pieces of furniture and paraphernalia set in the room against the walls. The precarious walls were thin outlines or borders; they were temporary testimony of a family’s presence before they had to move again. Together with the objects they housed, they become a testimony of their existence.

The sudden announcement ‘Kuyatshaaa!’ (there is fire) was often followed by the routine dash to gather all the important documents and a sudden stampede as everyone fled to the community hall. Once there, families congregated in groups, each member was covered by a grey blanket. The blanket, an ashen cape, a temporary source of comfort, gifted by the governing authorities.

Nobukho Nqaba, Ndinikezele, 2016. Ciclee print on hahnemule, 594 x 420mm.Nobukho Nqaba, Ndinikezele, 2016. Ciclee print on hahnemule, 594 x 420mm.

The exhibition’s Xhosa title, Izicwangciso Zezethu means we make plans. We may plan our lives, but we have no control over the outcome. It is a game of chance.

‘Izicwangciso Zezethu… (We Make Plans…)’ will be on view in the Dusthouse and Level 2 of Zeitz MOCAA, South Africa, from 31 July to 20 October 2019. The exhibition is curated by Tandazani Dhlakama & Sakhisizwe Gcina.

About the artist

Nobukho Nqaba was born in Butterworth located in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. At the age six, she and her family moved to Grabouw in the Western Cape and later attended Luhlaza High School in Cape Town.

She is a graduate of the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town (UCT) where she majored in photography and was mentored by Svea Josephy and Jean Brundrit (2012). In 2012, she was awarded the Tierney Fellowship and was the recipient of reGeneration3, a photography focused initiative by the Musee de l’Elysee. Nqaba holds a Post Graduate Certificate in Education Visual Art and Theory from the UCT (2013).  She has embarked on several teaching endeavours through her role as Visual Art and Digital Photography Educator at the Peter Clarke Art Centre. Nqaba is currently a Lecturer of Photography at the Red & Yellow Creative School of Business.


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