Gugulethu artist lays everything bare at Zeitz Museum

Kemang Wa Lehulere

Gugulethu-born artist Kemang Wa Lehulere is working on a project called Laying Bare at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) at the V&A Waterfront until Sunday May 10.

Wa Lehulere is occupying a section of the museum for five months, turning the area into his studio space, which will be accessible to the public.

“Working across media and disciplines, such as text, performance, sculpture, drawing and video, Wa Lehulere’s studio is a space that facilitates and produces his visual language,” says Tammy Langtry, curatorial assistant at Zeitz MOCAA.

The project will include live events and programmes at the studio to serve as contact points between the work of art, its makers, and the viewer.

The programme called I Love You Too is inspired by Wa Lehulere’s ongoing relationship with the intimate process of hand-written letters. The artist invites museum visitors to take part in this laboured act of love.

Visitors will sit with a writer to handwrite a love letter to someone they care about.

A masseuse will massage their body while the writer transcribes the letterThis process highlights the mediation and translation of the acts of love through the body, human emotion, and language.

Working with writers, poets and lyricists, the love letters will become part of an ongoing intervention, and will be included in a future publication that grapples with the relationship between the private and the public spheres.

Wa Lehulere was a co-founder of the Gugulective (2006), an artist-led collective, and a founding member of the Centre for Historical Reenactments in Johannesburg. His artistic practice reacts to the historical legacy of South Africa, using performative acts with objects and materials familiar to South African society, to carve, dig, break, erase or reconstitute. Objects like wooden school desks, ceramic sculptures of Alsatian dogs and blackboards are incorporated into various installations and used as symbols of both an educational system within the apartheid regime and its performance within a contemporary democratic society.

The objects transmute between a familiar object from childhood into more pointed questions or concerns that challenge our assumptions about the histories and social structures that shape the world around us.

Wa Lehulere, who lives in Muizenberg, is accompanied by his studio team, Tsietsi Lehulere, Lulama Qupe, Teba Shumba, Dede Lehulere, Siphelo Sivanjana, Thulang Dibakwane, Aylow Nyangintaka, Mandisa Ngqulana and Christopher Gopane.

Zeitz MOCAA is a public, not-for-profit institution that exhibits, collects, preserves and researches contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora.

Five Vukani readers can win an opportunity to take part in the programme called I Love You Too on Friday February 14. To enter, email your name and phone number to before midnight on Sunday February 9.

Entry to the museum will be free for winners. Winners will be notified telephonically.