In the context of the Turbine Art Fair 2022, which is in its tenth year running, I reached out to Mme Zanele Montle, a contemporary artist based at August House, Johannesburg. Her work is featured in the Lizamore & Associates booth at the fair this weekend in an exhibition aptly titled Young Spirits curated by Teresa Lizamore. I’ll confess, my reaching out to Mme Montle was not only to satisfy my curiosity in seeing her new work, but to also evolve an understanding of where she is creatively. To a small extent there was also a need to get a sense of what the Art Fair means to her as an artist. The present work represents this search.
This search is split into two methodological enquiry. While one is writerly and relies on written communication exchange between myself and the artist, the other is off-the-cuff audio recording interaction that probes the nature of the exhibition. Embedded herein is the results of the latter; a podcast that features Lizamore & Associates Gallery Manager, Marnus Strydom.
By chance just as we began to talk about the exhibition,Ntate Patrick Mautloa walked past the booth and stalled for a meet and greet. During the courteous exchanges that conducts meet and greet climates for people who haven’t seen each other in a long time, I learned that Ntate Mautloa is this year’s Turban Art Fair Ambassador and as such his work is shown under TAF Capsule. In this podcast you get to hear our exchanges with one of the most prominent South African artist before our conversation on the exhibition starts proper.
Mmutle Arthur Kgokong} How is Young Spirits group exhibition different from Salon Collectables and Intersecting Identities the recent group exhibitions that you have participated in recently?
Zanele Montle} Salon Collectables was a show that was aimed at encouraging young collectors to purchase art by making art affordable in its presentation. The exhibition presented a collection of 60 artworks under three galleries in association with FirstRand; Lizamore & Associates, Artist Proof Studio and The Art Room. It was held at Art and About Gallery in Rivonia. The exhibition Intersecting Identities was held in Los Angeles, California alongside other 11 Visual Artists representing the African diaspora. It concentrated on looking at similarities or differences forms of identities in Africa.
Mmutle AK} What is the overriding theme of the work that you have submitted for Young SpiritsExhibition?
Zanele M} Told and untold experiences and stories of black people in South Africa. …with reference to family photographs taken in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Through my technique, I present these aspects in a contemporary format. My work also looks at the socio-political similarities of black communities, those social traits that have remained unchanged with the passage of time.
MAK} You have been associated with Lizamore & Associates for quite some time now, how did your relationship with the gallery start?
ZM} This is the second exhibition I’ve had with them and I am delighted to be working with her and other artists represented under the gallery. The relationship started like any other gallery, through art and for the love of art. They called me in with an interest to work together and the rest is history.
MAK} When I look at your work, I see that you continue to grapple with black as a signifier of identity, figuratively speaking that is, do you see yourself working in a completely different theme in the future?
ZA} As a black person and having first hand black experience, I feel as an artist it’s my responsibility to talk about being black and the politics around the black body. In this way we get to control our narratives. How we choose to be seen. How to be seen and how we choose to be represented. Just like any other race, group, or community, as a black person I get to tell stories through my work the way I am comfortable to. In future I foresee a more curated type of imagery that speaks to black people being different but like other races still possessing similar human attributes such as loss, grief, joy, greed…
MAK} I have realized that you have been exhibiting regularly over the years. Generally speaking, what would you say is the role played by the Turbine Art Fair in the Visual Art Industry?
ZA} I think Visual Artists need any and every opportunity they can get to share their work. Whether on a big platform or small platform, every platform is an opportunity for a dialogue and to see what visual artists have to say or their interpretation on today’s society. It’s unfortunate that the Visual Arts Industry isn’t like music or isn’t easily accessible like music and so the Turbine Art Fair and other fairs are crucial in the Visual Arts Industry not only for artists but also for galleries, curators, writers, framing companies and any business that will benefit not only from a cultural point of view but also in a business sense.
Mmutle AK} Professionally speaking as an artist, what has been the fair’s impact on artist’s career trajectory?
Zanele M} It puts the artists career on a different level, at a more professional level and exposes the artists to other international fairs/galleries/collectors and one gets to meet other Visual artists.
Mmutle Arthur Kgokong} Thank you for taking the time to speak to me
Zanele Montle} Thank you for doing this
Mmutle Arthur Kgokong} You are welcome.
© mmutle Arthur Kgokong, 2022
To reference this text & audio documentation please cite:
Kgokong, M.A. 2022. Intraparadox, Zanele Montle, a pentagonal-xperience . Mmutleak.com-Intraparadox. https://mmutleak.com/2022/07/23/intraparadox-zanele-montle-a-pentagonal-xperience/
© mmutle arthur kgokong 2022