WORKS: Mamela Nyamza – Choreography

Select solo and group performances by Mamela Nyamza

2017

De-Apart-Hate at Johannesburg, Dance Umbrella, 2017

Afrovibes Festival 2017, The Netherlands

In DE-APART-HATE award-winning South African dancer, choreographer and arts activist Mamela Nyamza shows the oppression of women and (gay) sexuality by the church and how to overcome this. The performance is a search for personal freedom, a breathless duet in which she dances with the Bible between her legs. Mamela explores the limits of dance, performance and provocation. DE-APART-HATE gives a glimpse into the current power structures of South Africa where a cry is rising for decolonization of culture. 

Kgomotso Moncho-Maripane: Mamela Nyamza’s De-Apart-Hate At Dance Umbrella. Huffington Post 23/02/2017 

2015

The Last Attitude, Nelisiwe Xaba and Mamela Nyamza.
Mamela Nyamza and Nelisiwe Xaba take us with them on this exploratory piece, The Last Attitude, which pushes the boundaries and acceptable norms of ballet. Taking on themes of lightness and heaviness, strict movements and free experimentation, they switch effortlessly between the male and female roles. The piece sets out to explore the relationship between men and women in ballet, juxtaposing male and female, support and exploitation, they travel through a number of scenarios in which the typical dynamics of ballet are subverted. Report by Campbell Easton & Aphile Aphile Silolo School of Journalism and Media Studies, Rhodes University.

19 BORN 76 REBELS

Conceptualised and designed by Mamela Nyamza; performed with Faniswa Yisa
Originally co-produced with the SADC, Festival d’Avignon for the France-South Africa seasons 2012- 2013; previously presented at the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, 2014.

Video preview from the Festival d’Avignon.

19 BORN 76 REBELS at Zeitz MOCAA

2013 

Okuya Phantsi Kwempumlo at Infecting the City, ICA, Cape Town

Having recently returned from sold-out performances at the Ovalhouse in London, highly acclaimed choreographer and Donald Gordon Creative Arts Fellow, Mamela Nyamza, presents a startling dance performance Okuya Phantsi Kwempumlo (The Meal), for which she received a Standard Bank Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival 2012. Also featuring Dinah Eppel and Kirsty Ndawo, the work celebrates the creative capacity of young South Africans to subvert and transform instruments of oppression and denigration into expressions of ecstasy and beauty; and reflects on the relationship between women from different generations and races.

A short preview of Mamela Nyamza’s – Okuya Phantsi Kwempumlo / The Meal. Filmed live at The National Arts Festival 2012 in Grahamstown, South Africa. 

2012 

I Stand corrected, physical theatre, with the British theatre producer Mojisola Adebayo. Ovalhouse, London; Soweto Theatre, Johannesburg; Artscape, Cape Town

Mojisola Adebayo and Mamela Nyamza: I Stand Corrected, Edward Wren, Total Theatre

Okuya Phantsi Kwempulo (The Meal). Three women show, South African National Arts Festival 2012 (Standard Bank Ovation Award)
Conceptualised, choreographed and directed by Nyamza, the work is performed together with Dinah Eppel and Kirsty Ndawo. Okuya Phantsi Kwempulo considers cooking, eating, art, love and sex. “Before a meal can be eaten, preparation is necessary. The most basic division is between the creator of the meal and those who are being served. This work examines the process in which the eater becomes one with the meal, though the process of reaching satisfaction can take many forms”, Nyamza comments.

2011 

Isingqala and Amafongkong are collaborative productions with the Adugna Dance Theatre Company (Ethiopia) at the National Arts Festival (Grahamstown, South Africa, 2011), and African Footprints (2006).

Isingqala, performed, directed and choreographed by Mamela Nyamza, National Arts Festival, Grahamstown South Africa; Different Voices – Bates Dance Festival, USA; Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Slovenia.

Bates Dance Festival, Danse Afrique Day 3

Amafongkong 
Ethiopian Adugna Dance company; South African National Arts Festival 2011 

Abangxolayo (Noise makers) choreographed by Mamela Nyamza, premiered at GoetheonMain

Nyamza describes the Noise Makers as “all of those who are no longer in our existence, their names are written everywhere and we still hear of them even today”.
About the performance, which she will create in a collaborative process with a group of dancers at GoetheonMain, Nyamza explains that “it’s like a beauty contest, a function, but yet we are going to mourn or commemorate all of those who have left us with something to celebrate. It talks about the past at once and moving forward with what has been powerfully done by those who never kept quiet, be they artists, politicians, students, children or philosophers. This is a piece written by bodies creating moving images that will not be understood but yet will say something powerful to the viewer.”
Artslink

2010

Hatched performed, directed and choreographed by Mamela Nyamza at Out The Box Festival 2010 (Grahamstown South African National Arts Festival 2010); Dance Umbrella, London 2011; the 8th Pan-African dance biennial, Danse l’Afrique danse! in Mali, Bamako.

Art Africa Magazine: Danse l’Afrique danse!

Festival Brochure

HATCHED by Mamela Nyamza

Dance Umbrella 2011, Performed on 28 and 29 October at The Place
Mamela Nyamza’s autobiographical and passionate Hatched reveals an intriguing tension between Western balletic conventions and traditional African forms. A moving and evocative piece, Hatched conveys the challenging issues of a woman’s evolving sexuality within the customary rites and rituals of marriage. 

SHIFT by Mamela Nyamza

The performance celebrates the lives of, and commemorates, all women in sport, including Eudy Simelane, the Banyana Banyana soccer player who was stabbed 27 times because she was acting ‘like a man’. The work draws attention to the stryggle of women in sport and to girl children who experience discrimination in their own country, such as is currently the case with Caster Semenya. Mixed media link the drama and the dance, the 1960s and the present day, contextualizing the stories and serving as a bridge between different places, times and spaces, giving context to the idea that issues relating to sexuality necer take place in isolation.

Fifteen years after democracy, what are the gaps between anti-apartheid aspirations and present day realities? Hoe can the most progressive constitution in the world, which was worked our and earned through a historic liberation struggler in South Africa and which enshrines equality  for people of all sexualities, be fulfilled in reality? It looks at private and public life, tradition and the law, the state and the individual, and at the struggle against apartheid and for sexual liberation. (Artist statement)

Fancy footwork, now world’s at her feet. The Star 27 Oct 2010.

Mendi 2, Dance Factory, Newtown
Sunday Times 14 February 2010: Moving Bodies made to tell stories that matter

2009 

Kutheni, two women show performed by the members of Jazzart Dance Theatre, commissioned work for the FNB Dance Umbrella

I-Dolls,performed by the Cape Dance Company, commissioned by the South African National Arts Council

2008 

If Clothes Could Talk, performed by the Cape Junior Ballet

Our Fear, outreach project performed by Dance for All students

HATCH,one woman show, performed by Mamela Nyamza, On Broadway, Cape Town

“Hatch is a dance piece that seeks challenging issues of culture to convey, tradition and woman’s evolving sexuality with and outside the customary rites and rituals of marriage, starting from the time a girl-child is born until she realises her true identity after years of hardship in a loveless marriage.”
Mamba Online

Mexico: Foro Performatica, festival brochure

2007 

The Classroom, performed by the Zama Dance School

2006 

Some of Us Can Change, performed by the Zama Dance School

2005

Angels in Strip, with the Free Flight Dance Company at Arts Cape; Window into a World

2003 

Umakoti welixesha,The Woman’s Festival at the Dance Factory, Johannesburg

2002

Performed at the opening of the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

2000

Lead / Principal Dancer for hit musical(2000). Toured in London, UK and Atlanta, US

1999 

Reality Check,The State Theatre Dance company, Johannesburg

1997 -2000

Performed with State Theatre Dance Company,SA. The first public performance with the company, FNB Dance Umbrella, followed by the KKNK in Oudtshoorn; Oude Libertas; Grahamstown National Arts Festival; Dance Factory and the Civic Theatre seasons. First trip out of the country with the company: Israel, performed in Eilat and Ranana. Collaborated with The Danish Company (1997- 199) and performing inDenmark, Finland, Switzerland. performed internationally choreographed pieces by Robert North, Edd Wubb, Redha and Bebe Miller and South African choreographed pieces by Candice Johnstone, Esther Nasser, Alfred Hinkel’s famous Bolero, Debbie Rakusin; Sean Bovim & Christopher Kindo’s Me and You.

1995-1996

Performed with Pretoria Dance Technikon in all of their seasons, performed in works of South African acclaimed choreographers such as

Vincent Mantsoe, Moeketsi Koena, Boyzie Cekwane, Robyn Orlin; David Matamela; Debbie Rakusin and Sonia Mayor.

1986 -1993

Grahamstown Arts Festival; FNB Dance Umbrella; Sea Point Eistedford with the Zama dance school. Works choreographed by Arlene Westergaard and the students of the school.

Turbine Art Fair 2020

Turbine Art Fair 2020 Special Project: Tactile Visions – Woven

Tactile Visions-Woven, curated by Prof Sharlene Khan, a new addition to the fair, presents a curated selection of tactile-based works in an expanded conversation with the notions of ‘materiality’ and ‘tactility’, as contemporary artists engage these in performance, installation, photography, painting, dance, printmaking and sculpture, responding to the precarious conditions of the world in which they find themselves as individuals and as members of society. The exhibition also aims to show, through the porosity of the categories of ‘fine arts’/ ‘crafts’/ ‘women’s art’/ ‘popular culture’ that these are not – and simply never were – tenable in the fluidity that are our African lives.
read more here

Tactile Visions-Woven: artist interviews

Bev Butkow

Buhlebezwe Siwani

Londiwe Mtshali

Philiswa Lila

Reshma Chhiba

Mary Sibande

Nono Motlhoki

Zodwa Skeyi-Tutani

Dean Hutton

Lebogang Mogul Mabusela

Willemien de Villiers

Thania Petersen

Lindelwa Masuku

Curator Sharlene Khan

Extended Archive

This extended artists’ archive presents resources on South African women-of-colour artists which were produced additional to the the Art on our Mind research project.

Turbine Art Fair 2020 Special Project: Tactile Visions – Woven

Tactile Visions-Woven, curated by Prof Sharlene Khan, a new addition to the fair, presents a curated selection of tactile-based works in an expanded conversation with the notions of ‘materiality’ and ‘tactility’, as contemporary artists engage these in performance, installation, photography, painting, dance, printmaking and sculpture, responding to the precarious conditions of the world in which they find themselves as individuals and as members of society. The exhibition also aims to show, through the porosity of the categories of ‘fine arts’/ ‘crafts’/ ‘women’s art’/ ‘popular culture’ that these are not – and simply never were – tenable in the fluidity that are our African lives.
read more here

Tactile Visions-Woven: artist interviews

Statement by curator Sharlene Khan

Tactile Visions/ Woven (Turbine Art Fair 2020)

Curated by Sharlene Khan, Tactile Visions-Woven is an expanded conversation on our relationalities with materials; processes by which we engage them; histories implicated by them, as well as how we envision ourselves and our world through sartorial codes. South Africa has an immensely rich history of tactile arts – from beadwork to embroidery, leather work, quilts and blanket making to doilies and the weaving of baskets with telephone wires to the ability to decorate with ordinary steel pins. The exhibition is interested in how contemporary artists are using the language of these everyday tactilities to question a range of social issues that affect them as individuals and a world which seems perched on a precarious edge. At the same time, this act of using the ordinary is redefining the very terrain of what we associate as ‘fine art’ versus ‘craft’ and have categorised into ‘women’s art’, ‘popular culture’ and ‘fashion’, showing that these positions never had any place in our African lives or histories. And so it is fascinating how the field of contemporary visual arts has become reconfigured at this intersection of the everyday and, sometimes, even the unspectacular. The exhibition presents works of established and emerging artists in dialogue with each other as they speak to similar narratives through a range of different subject positions, showing that our battles may seem different, but, indeed, our struggles are interconnected and, thus, so should our visions for a better world.  

About the curator:
Sharlene Khan is a South African visual artist who works in multi-media installations and performances which focus on the socio-political realities of a post-apartheid society and the intersectionality of race-gender-class. She uses masquerading as a postcolonial strategy to interrogate her South African heritage, as well as the constructedness of identity via rote education, art discourses, historical narratives and popular culture.


She has exhibited in the UK, Italy, France, Germany, South Africa, India, South Korea, Greece and has participated in various international conferences. Her writings on contemporary visual arts appears in journals, books, art catalogues and magazines including Art South Africa, Artthrob, Springerin, Manifesta, Contemporary-And, The Conversation Africa, Imbizo: International Journal of African Literary and African Studies. She has been a recipient of the Abe Bailey Travel Bursary (1998), the Rockefeller Bellagio Arts residency (2009) the Canon Collins/Commonwealth Scholarship (2011), the National Research Foundation Thutuka Grant for her 3 year project Art on our Mind (2017-2019), the Andrew Mellon Decolonial Turn Funds for her Decolonial AestheSis Creative Lab (2017-2018), the African Humanities Post-doctoral Fellowship (2017) and was runner-up winner in the Videokunst Preis Bremen video art award (2015).


She has been nominated twice for the South African Women in the Arts award and has received funding from the National Arts Council multiple times. She has published three books on her work: ‘What I look like, What I feel like’ (2009), ‘I Make Art’ (2017), ‘When the moon waxes red. . . ‘ (2018). She is co-convenor of the African Feminisms (Afems) conference and the bi-weekly Black Feminist Killjoys Reading Group. She holds a PhD (Arts) from Goldsmiths, University of London and is currently Associate Professor at the Department of Fine Art at the Wits University, Johannesburg, South Africa.  

Curatorial statement Sharlene Khan

RMB Turbine Art Fair Talk: Threaded Vision
Craig Jacobs, Ethical Fashion Designer in discussion with Sharlene Khan, Curator of Woven.

CURRENT

Artwork by Natasha Vally

Creative Dialogues and African Feminisms Conference postponed to 2021

The African Feminisms Conferences (Afems) are yearly Humanities and Social Science conferences  hosted collaboratively by Rhodes University’s Prof Lynda Gichanda Spencer (and the Urban Connections in African Popular Imaginaries (UCAPI) research project), based at the Department of Literary Studies in English, and Prof Sharlene Khan (with the Art on our Mind research project) at Wits School of the Arts.


Afems Digital Events July-September 2020

Cape Town, 30 June 2020

Dear AFEMS Community,

We trust this finds you well notwithstanding this moment we collectively find ourselves in. Our breath is now more than ever at the forefront of conversations. Fighting to breathe in the unequal struggle against COVID, protecting our breath as a preventative act for survival, and the recurring screams, “I can’t breathe,” of black bodies fighting for their right to exist in an antiblack world, are foremost in the safeguarding and upholding of black life. We trust that between Zoom meetings, the economic fallout of the pandemic, and all else you deal with in your life you are taking time to breathe deeply because breathing too, is activism and radical healing.

In this moment of collective anguish and activism, Kharnita Mohamed’s ( AFEMS 2019) words resonate: “There is something about this moment, about the intensity and intensification of violence we cannot hide from, we cannot rest from, retreat from. Not that we ever could, not if we were alert to the world.” The coronavirus felt like a collective trauma until we recognized the longstanding social violence that predisposes some to infection and death; until we were crudely reminded that black bodies continue to experience extrajudicial punishment by the police, and that womxn’s bodies continue to be found in ditches or hung on trees.

We invite you to join the AFEMS 2020 virtual community in reflecting on the refusals of this moment and in choosing feminist healing.  Our online interventions are inspired by Mmatshilo Motsei when she writes:

“I choose not to throw up my arms in desperation asking the question: Baba senzani na? [ What have we done?]. Instead, I choose to raise my arms in gratitude ready to receive divine […] feminist opportunities ushered in by the era, of the moment.”

1.     #AFEMSMoments – July, August, and September 2020:

Reminding that this moment connects to ongoing feminist activism and reflection, we will share a selection of insightful ( and hopefully inspirational) clips from earlier African Feminisms (Afems) meetings on Facebook (www.facebook.com/africanfeminisms), YouTube (Afems African Feminisms Conference), Twitter (@afemsconference), Instagram (@afemsconference) and the AFEMS website.

2.     AFEMS Digital Healing Circle – 17th September 2020:

Facilitated by Mmatshilo Motsei, this Zoom event will include a webinar, breakout sessions, a creative performance, and a feminist wine down. We will share registration information for the digital Zoom event on all our platforms by the end of August 2020.

To be Black, to be womxn, to be non-binary in this world is to live in refusal, in resilience, in a state of continuing to claim our breath. What supports your continued breathing through this moment?

We are excited to be in community with you and look forward to your engagement.

Stay well,

The AFEMS Committee
Afems2020@gmail.com

Lallitha Jawahirilal

Lallitha Jawahirilal (b. 1955, Ladysmith) is a South African visual artist, who enrolled at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts in London in 1984 and graduated with a BA Degree in in 1987. She continued to study at the Royal College of Art London where she graduated with an MA degree in 1989. She collaborated with South African exile writers, musicians, sculptors, painters and photographers in the UK and engaged in fundraising efforts for to support the anti-apartheid movement, and participated in group exhibitions, including the ‘Artists Against Apartheid’ exhibition in the Upper Street Gallery. She held solo exhibitions at the Africa Centre in Stockholm, Gallery 21 in Johannesburg and the Galerie Trapez in Berlin. In 1990, she was awarded a residency by the Delfina Studios Trust in London and won the Discerning Eye Award in 1991, and the Pollack Krasner Award in 1992.

Her work deals with space as a deeply embedded construct in one’s psyche during exile. Jawahirilal fled apartheid South Africa in the 1980s and went into self-imposed exile in London where she then took up her art studies, continuously engaged her contradictory feelings to her home country (and especially her home town of Ladysmith) which wavers between deep loving emotion, on-going conflict and in some senses, a feeling of spiritual entanglement with her place of birth. Using her own poetry, mixed media (painting and collage), Jawahirilal’s Oh South Africa(1980, 2011) series reflects her longing for her home during her time away in London, but also since 2004 when she took up permanent residence in India. 

Career
Fine Art Lecturer at the University of Durban-Westville, South Africa (1994-2000) Master Degree in Painting at the Royal College of Art, London (1989)
Bachelor of Arts, First Class Honours at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, London (1987)

Selected Awards 

1994 Elizabeth Foundation Award, United States of America  [view pdf here]
1992 Pollock Krasner Award, United States of America [view pdf here]
1991 Discerning Eye Award, Mall Galleries, London
1989-90 African Education Trust Award, London 

CREATIVE DIALOGUE

Art on Mind Creative Dialogue with Lallitha Jawahirilal on 10 October 2019 at The Point of Order Project Space, Wits School of the Arts, Wits University, Johannesburg, South Africa (sponsored by the NRF Thutuka Fund and Wits University).

AUDIO: Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with Lallitha Jawahirilal

TRANSCRIPT: Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with Lallitha Jawahirilal

ARCHIVAL RESOURCES: Lallitha Jawahirilal

WORKS by Lallitha Jawahirilal

WORKS
EXHIBITIONS
PROJECTS AND RESEARCH

CATALOGUES, PRESS AND REVIEWS on Lallitha Jawahirilal

PUBLICATIONS
INTERVIEWS & FEATURES

Artist CV
[pdf here]

Natasha Becker

Natasha Becker was born in South Africa and has spent the last sixteen years living and working between New York and Cape Town. An expert in contemporary African and African American art, she has curated a number of exhibitions in collaboration with artists, curators, collectors, galleries, museums, and foundations internationally. She recently co-curated two exhibitions, “Perilous Bodies,” and “Radical Love,” at the distinguished Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice to inaugurate their new art gallery in New York (2019). Her past experience includes curating exhibitions at the Goodman Gallery (South Africa), convening public programs in global art history at the Clark Art Institute, and launching an international video art festival (both Massachusetts, USA). Natasha is one of the co-founders of two collaborative curatorial platforms, ASSEMBLY ROOM (New York) and THE UNDERLINE SHOW (Johannesburg) and was appointed inaugural curator of African art at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in December 2020.

CREATIVE DIALOGUE

Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with South African Curator Natasha Becker and Sharlene Khan on 5 September 2019 at The Point of Order. The event was part of the African Feminisms (Afems) conference 2019: Theorising from the Epicentres of our Agency, at the Wits School of the Arts, Wits University, Johannesburg, South Africa.

 

AUDIO: Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with Natasha Becker

TRANSCRIPT: Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with Natasha Becker

Find Natasha Becker on Instagram


Assembly Room New York invited curators to speak about curating in the time of COVID19, watch episode #1 with Natasha Becker online:

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Curating at the time of COVID19 is a series of short, homemade videos, by our fellow independent women curators, discussing curating practices during the lockdown.😷 . We are committed to continuing our mission to create community and to support the work of independent women curators by sharing our stories, our work, and our inspiration in these challenging times. We invite you to enjoy our new online content created by our community of awesome women! Topics include; What does an independent curator do? What do curators think of online exhibitions? What artists, artworks, and exhibitions are curators working on or inspired by? . Our guest for the first episode is Natasha Becker, the co-founder curator of Assembly Room.🎊🎉🎊 . Bio: Natasha was born in South Africa and has spent the last sixteen years living and working between Cape Town and New York. An expert in contemporary African and African American art, she has curated a number of exhibitions in collaboration with artists, curators, collectors, galleries, museums, and foundations in South Africa and the United States. She recently co-curated two exhibitions, “Perilous Bodies,” and “Radical Love,” at the distinguished Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice to inaugurate their new art gallery in New York (2019). Her experience includes curating exhibitions at the Goodman Gallery (South Africa), organizing public programs in global art history at the Clark Art Institute, and launching an international video art festival (both Massachusetts, USA). . More to come. Stay tuned!📡📡📡

A post shared by ASSEMBLY ROOM (@assemblyroomnyc) on


 

Curator’s website and CV

CURATORIAL WORK
WRITING

PRESS AND REVIEWS

Mamela Nyamza

Mamela Nyamza was born and bred in Gugulethu township, near Cape Town in South Africa. From a tender age of 8 years whilst learning Ballet at the Zama Dance School in Gugulethu, Ms Nyamza, knew from the onset that, her love of body movement will eventually bring both prejudice and prestige to her career as a dance-theatre performing artist. Consistently ridiculed by her childhood peers for her athletic built toned body, to the ultimate rebuke and rejection of her natural body structure by her classical Ballet Teachers at tertiary level, Ms Nyamza inevitably was drawn to the politics of the body.

FORMALLY TRAINED AND QUALIFIED IN DANCE GENRE
In the midst of adversity, Ms Nyamza boldly proceeded to graduate from the Tshwane University of Technology with a National Diploma in Ballet in 1994. After acquiring her Diploma in Ballet, Ms Nyamza was awarded a working contract at the State Theatre, in Pretoria. It is during this tenure that Ms Nyamza started to think of radically deconstructing the normative expectations of who qualifies to be a classical Ballerina. In this process, she duly won an audition in 1999 for a prestigious scholarship to study further at the Alvin Ailey International School for Dance in New York, Unites States of America.

CHARTING WAY IN VISIONARY CHOREOGRAPHY
The extra experience Ms Nyamza got from the Alvin Ailey School of Dance, soon landed her lead dance roles in many high acclaimed International Musicals such as the Lion King, African Footprint, We Will Rock You. These quality stints as lead dancer, also exposed Ms Nyamza to other forms of dance, such as pantsula and hip-hop dance, providing her with distinct expertise in contemporary dance. Ms Nyamza’s distinction and vast experience in the genre of dance, promptly propelled to revive her initial quest to deconstruct all that is there to norm and expectations of the dance genre.

DANCING THEATRICS FOR JUSTICE IN THE ART
Vast accumulated experience in the field of dance became a solid foundation for Ms Nyamza’s distinction in creation, choreography and directing extra-ordinary fresh innovative works. By 2007, Ms Nyamza was already ahead of peers, and she was decisively awarded the Standard Bank National Young Artist for the Dance in 2011, due to her refreshingly innovative choreography and performance in the art of dance. Ms Nyamza’s highly acclaimed “HATCHED”, created in 2008, was her first work to kick-start her art programme of unapologetically demystifying, deconstructing and trampling on the norms and standards of the dance/classics.

VISIONARY ARTIST
Ms Nyamza’s immense contribution to dance-theatre and choreography, is now fast becoming legendary in the art of dance-theatre. Her various works since “HATCHED” (against patriarchy), including “THE MEAL” (against elitist ballet), “19-BORN 76-REBELS” (against youth discrimination and poverty), “LAST ATTITUDE” (against gender inequality in the dance), “I STAND CORRECTED” (against homophobia and hate crimes), “WENA MAMELA” (against gate keeping in the arts), “DE- APART-HATE” (against inhumanity and violence in society), and “PHUMA-LANGA” (against cultural domination), are all work-pieces that deal with important political and societal issues of today’s South Africa. Other major works of Nyamza include: “KUTHENI”, “ISIGQALA”, “SHIFT”, and “UMENDI”.

All these works have indeed propelled Ms Nyamza to embody and manifest the words of the Philosopher Allen Kaprow who said: “The line between art and life should be kept as fluid, and perhaps indistinct, as possible”.

In many strokes of genius, Ms Nyamza has put herself in for activism for equity in the arts. Her strong belief that artists have the power to change the world the better, prompted Ms Nyamza to lead a four-women march against an exclusive elitist Theatre Awards Ceremony on 18th March 2017 in Cape Town.

Ms Nyamza’s quest to address the current state of arts in South Africa, which is still exclusive, elitist and fretted with acute patronage, has led her to create a trilogy of works: DE-APART-HATE; PHUMA-LANGA; and ROCK-TO-THE-CORE. With these works, Nyamza has indeed mastered the art of visionary and raw freshness in the field of DANCE. All these three works brilliantly raise pertinent issues of race; tolerance; identity; gate-keeping; equality; and equity audience development in the arts environment. Ms Nyamza’s newest work, BLACK PRIVILEGE, epitomises this trilogy in distinct and focused work of law and spirituality.

Ms Nyamza’s ultimate goal is to propel DANCE into the ultimate theatric and genre of the performance art that conveys body politics on all social issues, and not to just entertain.

Indeed, Ms Nyamza’s fierce critics allege that she is a “non-dancing conceptual” dancer. In her own words, Ms Nyamza counters: “one cannot separate concept from creation and choreography – they all must go hand-in-hand to yield to a complete performing artist”.

NUMEROUS ACCOLADES AND HONOURS

The accolades that Ms Nyamza has received over the years are indeed indicative that the Art Fraternity recognizes her immense contribution to the arts.

Ms Nyamza has just successfully finished her three-year tenure as one of the Advisory Panelist in DANCE for the South African National Arts Council (NAC).

Apart from receiving numerous nominations for awards, such as being nominated for the 2016 and 2017 BroadwayWorld South African Awards for Best Choreography in DE-APART-HATE and ROCK-TO-THE-CORE, Ms Nyamza received the following awards and achievements:

  1. Featured Artist of the Grahamstown Standard Bank National Arts Festival 2018, a first of its kind for the Dance Art Genre. This accolade is definitely one of the highest honor that can be bestowed to any South African artist, for the immense contribution done in the art field of the dance-theatre.
  2. Dance Umbrella Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Dancer in Contemporary Style for “THE DYING SWAN” in 2000.
  3. Standard Bank Young Artist for the DANCE in 2010
  4. Standard Bank Ovation Award for “THE MEAL” in 2012
  5. University of Cape Town Institute of Creative Arts Fellowship Award in 2012
  6. 6. OPRAH WINFREY Women of the Year Award in 2013
  7. IMBOKODO Award for DANCE in 2016
  8. Identified by the DAILY REVIEW of Australia as one of the 30 International Artists to track in 2018, that are positively changing the world. “They are out there contributing toward peace, making work in conflict zones, growing understanding and awareness, facing misrepresentation, and organising for social change”: Shawn Lent, January 19, 2018 in http://www.dailyreview.com.au

Ms Nyamza has also travelled extensively, continuously being invited to National and International Arts Festivals, such as the Dance Umbrella, Infecting the City, and Standard Bank Fringe Festivals in South Africa, and many other International Festivals including in Congo, Germany, Mali, Belgium, Senegal, Slovenia, Singapore, and Canada.

Ms Nyamza’s work is currently being studied at various national and international universities, an indication that she is a versatile creator, choreographer and performing artist, who continues to provide relevance to both academia and the practice of arts.

Ms Nyamza’s ultimate vision is to create and direct more work that would reach the most remote areas of South Africa to unearth young, raw talent in the art of Dance in particular and performance arts in general. Ms Nyamza has already started with grass-roots work by providing mentorship workshop sessions.

CREATIVE DIALOGUE

Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with South African Dancer and Choreographer Mamela Nyamza and Beverley Barry on 6 September 2019 at Wits Theatre. The event was part of the African Feminisms (Afems) conference 2019: Theorising from the Epicentres of our Agency, at the Wits School of the Arts, Wits University, Johannesburg, South Africa.

The event was part of the African Feminisms (Afems) conference 2019: Theorising from the Epicentres of our Agency, at the Wits School of the Arts, Wits University, Johannesburg, South Africa

AUDIO: Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with Mamela Nyamza

TRANSCRIPT: Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with Mamela Nyamza

Find Mamela Nyamza on Instagram

ARCHIVAL RESOURCES: Mamela Nyamza

WORKS by Mamela Nyamza

CHOREOGRAPHY

PRESS AND REVIEWS on Mamela Nyamza

INTERVIEWS/FEATURES
REVIEWS


WORKS: Natasha Becker – Writing

Texts by Natasha Becker

MA Thesis

Becker, N. (2002) Inside and Outside the Family Album. Making, exhibiting and archiving the photograph in the South African National Gallery and the National Library of South Africa. Univerity of the Western Cape, available at:
http://hdl.handle.net/11394/6046

One of the first things that reached me about photography was how a photograph tells a story or stories. This experience is perhaps most common when viewing personal photographs. A few years ago I was looking through a vast number of personal photographs, of a family I knew well, and was struck by how all the photographs (in albums, framed or lying loosely about) were part of a particular family narrative. Even without the storytelling, which accompanied my viewing of the photographs, I could still ‘read’ bits and pieces of the family history (and the broader social, political and cultural histories) in their photographs.

Journal articles and essays

2021 (forthcoming) ‘In the Wake of Okwui Enwezor’. NKA: Journal for Contemporary African Art. Special Issue on Curator Okwui Enwezor.

March 2020 ‘To Imagine a Future World’. Curatorial Essay, exhibition catalogue, Present Passing, Osage Art Foundation, Hong Kong, China

February 2020 ‘Forever if Composed of Nows’ Curatorial Essay, exhibition catalogue , A.I.R gallery, New York, NY

February 2020 ‘Pushing Through a Public Memorial’. Guest Contributor, Brooklyn Rail Critics Page, New York, NY

November 2019 ‘Where Does My Heart Reside?’ Guest Contributor, Brooklyn Rail Critics Page, New York, NY

May 2019 ‘An Ode to Love’ Curatorial Essay, Ford Foundation Art Gallery, New York, NY

October 2015 ‘Encountering Virginia Chihota’ Exhibition catalogue essay, Tiwani Contemporary: Virginia Chihota. A Thorn In My Flesh (munzwa munyama yangu)

2008 ‘Primitivism revisited: After the end of an idea’. African Arts, 41:1, 86-88, available online at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/20447874 [download pdf here]

2001 ‘The “Lives of Colour” Exhibition. South African National Gallery, September 1999’ Kronos 27 Visual History, 270-291 available online at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/41056681 [download pdf here]

WORKS: Natasha Becker – Curatorial Work

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS

2019

RADICAL LOVE
Group Show, Ford Foundation for Social Justice Art Gallery, New York, NY
https://news.artnet.com/exhibitions/ford-foundation-gallery-radical-love-1612009

PERILOUS BODIES
Group Show, Ford Foundation for Social Justice Art Gallery, New York, NY
https://afropunk.com/2019/02/art-exhibit-curators-of-color-utopianimaginationper- ilous-bodies-ford-foundation/

INTERIOR LANDSCAPES
Group Show, Assembly Room, New York, NY
http://assemblyroom.nyc/current-exhibtion/

2018

MULTIPLICITIES
Group Show, Assembly Room, New York, NY
https://hyperallergic.com/468273/assembly-room-curatorial-collective/

WHAT CAN BE SEEN
Group Show, Spring/Break Art Show, New York, NY
https://www.contemporaryand.com/magazines/the-collective-unearthingcensored- scenes-from-postwar-italian-cinema/

2017

DIALOGUES IN DRAWING
Group Show, Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco, CA
https://www.artsy.net/show/jenkins-johnson-gallery-dialogues-in-drawing#

AMERICANAH
Group Show, Spring/Break Art Show, New York, NY
https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-16-curators-watch-springbreak

WEIGHTS & MEASURES
Solo Show and Civic Dialogues, Constitution Hill Museum, Johannesburg, South Africa
https://www.contemporaryand.com/magazines/justice-under-the-spotlight/

2016

SHIRIN NESHAT: DREAMERS
Solo Show, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa,
http://www.goodman-gallery.com/exhibitions/624

SUE WILLIAMSON: THE PAST LIES AHEAD
Solo Show, Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
http://www.goodman-gallery.com/exhibitions/611

2015

RUBY AMANZE ONYINYECHI: SALT WATER
Solo Show, Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
http://www.goodman-gallery.com/exhibitions/590

EDGE OF SILENCE
Group Show, Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
http://www.goodman-gallery.com/exhibitions/573

SPEAKING BACK
Group Show, Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
http://www.goodman-gallery.com/exhibitions/559