Kemang Wa Lehulere and Lefifi Tladi - Kauno Bienalė

Kemang Wa Lehulere and Lefifi Tladi

Kemang Wa Lehulere

Kemang Wa Lehulere (b. 1984, Cape Town, South Africa).Working in a variety of media that includes sculpture, installation, drawing and performance, Kemang Wa Lehulere uses found objects and salvaged materials to create environments and events that situate personal memories within, and in contrast to, collective narratives. Using conceptually loaded materials such as school desks, tyres, chalkboards and ceramic dogs, he poeticises the ‘double lives’ of objects – their potential for multiple interpretations – to tease out their ambivalent or subversive meanings through reconfiguration and assemblage.

In an attempt to comprehend and process the trauma of South Africa’s contemporary history(s), his practice combines physical acts of excavation and deconstruction with strategies of collaboration across time – be it through referencing, re-framing or ‘call-and-response’ – with artists, writers and family members of personal significance. By re-presenting in his exhibitions the work of other practitioners, whose contributions are often only posthumously acclaimed, Wa Lehulere points to the politics of cultural erasure and asks us to consider the gap between individual (complex, lived) experience and official (sanctioned, reductive) accounts of history. Dealing in the visual language of institutions, Wa Lehulere’s work contributes to the discourse around structural violence and the urgency of decolonised education and theoretical research.

To date, Wa Lehulere has had solo exhibitions at Göteborg Konsthall, Sweden (2021); Manchester International Festival, UK (2021); Tate Modern, UK (2019); Pasquart Art Centre, Switzerland (2018); MAXXI, Italy (2017); the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, Germany (2017); the Art Institute of Chicago, USA (2016); Gasworks, UK (2015); as well as blank projects (2023); Galerie Tschudi (2023; 2020); Marian Goodman Gallery (2018); and Stevenson (2018; 2016; 2015; 2012). Selected group exhibitions include Stories of Resistance at Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2021), Global(e) Resistance at Centre Pompidou, Paris (2020), Beyond the Black Atlantic at Kunstverein Hannover (2020), Ernest Mancoba: I Shall Dance in a Different Society at Centre Pompidou, Paris (2019), May You Live in Interesting Times, the 58th Venice Biennale (2019), Leaving the Echo Chamber, 14th Sharjah Biennale (2019); O Triângulo Atlântico, 11th Mercosul Biennial (2018); More For Less at A4 Arts Foundation, Cape Town (2018); Tell Freedom. 15 South African Artists at Kunsthal KAdE, Amersfoort (2018); Performa 17, New York (2017); Art/ Afrique, le nouvel atelier at Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (2017); African Odysseys at Le Brass Cultural Centre of Forest, Belgium (2015); the 8th Berlin Biennale (2014); Public Intimacy: Art and Other Ordinary Acts in South Africa at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2014); The Ungovernables, the 2nd New Museum Triennial, New York (2012); A Terrible Beauty is Born, the 11th Lyon Biennale (2011) and When Your Lips Are My Ears, Our Bodies Become Radios at Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern (2010).

Wa Lehulere was a co-founder of Gugulective (2006), an artist-led collective based in Cape Town, and a founding member of the Center for Historical Reenactments (2010) in Johannesburg. He was the winner of the inaugural Spier Contemporary Award in 2007, the MTN New Contemporaries Award in 2010, and the Tollman Award for the Visual Arts in 2012; he was one of two young artists awarded the 15th Baloise Art Prize at Art Basel in 2013, won the first International Tiberius Art Award Dresden in 2014 and was the Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Arts in 2015. Wa Lehulere was also the recipient of an Ampersand Foundation residency in New York in 2012. In 2017, he was Deutsche Bank’s ‘Artist of the Year’, the recipient of the fourth Malcolm McLaren Award and a finalist in the Future Generation Art Prize in Kyiv, Ukraine.

His work is represented in several notable public and institutional collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago (USA), Centre Pompidou (France), Deutsche Bank (Germany), Es Baluard (Spain), Hirshhorn Museum (USA) and Tate London (UK).


Lefifi Tladi

Lefifi Tladi was born in 1949 in Lady Selborne in Pretoria, South Africa. Tladi, nicknamed Jomo after Jomo Kenyatta, is a thinker, poet and painter. In 1966 Tladi was a co-founder of De-Olympia in the township of Ga-Rankuwa, north-west of Pretoria. Later, in the 1970s, the Black Consciousness Movement’s (BCM) cultural wing, named CUL-COM (Cultural Committee) organised numerous Black art exhibitions and workshops at some of the major Black universities and schools. Unfortunately, they were closed down after only three years by the apartheid authorities. In 1976, Tladi skipped bail after he and other artists within the BCM were arrested and detained for participating in the Soweto uprising strikes by students. Tladi was forced into exile where he ended up in Botswana with fellow artists. There they established Tuka Cultural Unit, a cultural formation meant for organising group exhibitions as well as sustaining working relations with artists in South Africa. In 1977, they took part in the month-long event, Festac ’77. Tladi also participated in cultural programmes with groups such as the Medu Art Ensemble and Dashiki. A Swedish diplomat saw his work in Botswana and in 1980 Tladi received a scholarship to study fine arts and art history at the Gerlesborg School of Fine Art in Stockholm, Sweden. Between 1983 and 2001 Tladi recorded various musical and poetry projects. In 1997 Tladi returned to South Africa and in 2005 he co-wrote the documentary about his life, Giant Steps. Tladi’s works are exhibited in museums and galleries across the globe and he continues to work with several renowned artists such as Kgafela oa Magogodi, Joe Malinga, Moss Mohale, Louis Moholo, Solly Mokolobate, Gibo Pheto, Mohau Kekana and Abbey Cindi. Lefifi Tladi lives in Stockholm, Sweden but continues to be active in Arts education and hosts various poetry and art workshops in South Africa and around the world.