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.