Mohlokomedi wa Tora
»Lebohang Kganye, SASOL New Signatures 2017 overall winner’s exhibition is up at the Pretoria Art Museum. Her 2017 winning work was groundbreaking in terms of the animation approach she used to make the video installation in telling her family’s journey to Johannesburg. The pop-up book animation effect was pervasive in twofold. While on the one hand it nuanced story telling by way of mimicking leafing through a book during reading it also recalled a stage play mode of representation. Now the results of her winnings which has to be translated into a solo project exhibitions are ready to be perused by all and sundry.
Presently she goes on further in her exposition of what I take to be a theme very close to home. The pun is unavoidable here. Through four installations made up of almost life sized cropped up boards showing people, animals, land and housing structures she takes us through four stories. She shows the interior of her home in Soweto, and to somewhat layered extend the land. The interior of her home is juxtaposed with the outside of the four room house. The land is teased out in two perspectives adjacent to each other; here while on the one hand a desolate farm is shown on the other hand a fertile farm is shown. It is important to note the farms are represented from a black farmers’ perspective. The successful farm is owned by black people and so is the desolated farm. The viewer is left to make their own assumptions and conclusions with regard to where the artist is taking them.
The nostalgic sepia tone, the man seated and reading the newspaper, as well as the ironing board and the table at the center recur as cues to reassure the viewer, cognizant with Khanye’s winning work last year that they are in familiar territory however the narrative discourse has somewhat expanded.
What Mohlokomedi wa Tora is suffering from is lack of space. The exhibition feels cramped and the visual storytelling is not palatable as, I supposed, was originally envisaged. An installation by its nature has an intertextual relationship with the space within which it is installed and exhibited before the interplay between its internal variant components playout. If Mohlokomedi wa Tora was in a bigger space and the viewer could have enough room to engage with it then the quadruple installation series would leave one with the impression that they have just physically visited the four scenes conceived herein and they can perhaps wrestle with the content. Perhaps even the obtrusive stands would be waved aside. Otherwise this exhibition posits a prelude to the grandeur of what can be expect of Kganye’s work in an open gallery space isolated from those whose work at the moment vie to carve a niche for their makers to follow in her footstep. She has dug deep to come up with an artistic vision that is both personal while at the same time is a matter of public debate – a sense of belonging and ownership of space in contemporary South Africa•
Mohlokomedi wa Tora is on at the Pretoria Art Museum until 7 October 2018.
© Mmutle arthur kgokong 2018