WORKS: Mamela Nyamza – Choreography

Select solo and group performances by Mamela Nyamza


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 


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.


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


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. 


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.


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

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.”


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


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


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


The Classroom, performed by the Zama Dance School


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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

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.

PUBLICATIONS: Lallitha Jawahirilal

Art catalogues, books, journal articles and academic theses featuring works by Lallitha Jawahirilal 

Chambers, E. (2014) Black Artists in British Art: A History since the 1950s. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.
Google Books preview here

Cooney, L. (ed.) (2011) South Africa: Artists, Prints, Community: Twenty-Five Years at the Caversham Press. Boston: Boston University. Exhibition Catalogue, p. 70.
[download pdf here]

Brzyski, A. (ed.) (2007) Partisan Canons. Durham: Duke University Press.
Google Books preview here

Marschall, S. (2004) Serving Male Agendas: Two National Women’s Monuments in South Africa, Women’s Studies, 33:8, 1009-1033,
DOI: 10.1080/00497870490890816

Pissarra, M. (2004) The Luggage is Still Labelled, Third Text, 18:2, 183-191
DOI: 10.1080/0952882032000199696

Vale, P., Ruiters, G. (2004) The Right Way Up? South Africa Ten Years On. International Politics, 41, 375–393 (2004).

Khan, S. (2004) Lallitha Jawahirilal. In: Khan, S. (ed.) The ID of South African artists. Amsterdam : Stichting Art & Theatre, 134-137.
[download pdf here]

Deliry-Antheaume, E. (2003) Readings from the walls: art and education. Perspectives in Education, 21:2, 1 – 14.

Marschall, S. (2001) The Poetics of Politics. Imagi[ni]ng the New South African Nation. Safundi, 2:2, 1-20, doi: 10.1080/17533170100102201

Deliry-Antheaume, E. (2000) Murs des écoles, école des murs en Afrique du Sud. Les institutions éducatives vues du dehors. In: Lange, M.F. (ed.) Des écoles pour le Sud. Aube: IRD Editions, 167-175.
[download pdf here]

Abstract (english)
School walls, the school of walls in South Africa : how education institutions are seen from the outside
School walls reflect local architectural story in educational establishments. Graffiti and mural art witness to the recent transformations in South African society and often draw attention to the right to education and to the environ- ment in which education is offered. By review- ing a number of creative experiments (with photos), we see that the walls are themselves transformed into « schools » and provide an alternative form of teaching which can contri- bute to the healing as well as the reconstruc- tion of a society undermined by decades of segregation.

Bedford, E. et al. (eds.) (1997) Contemporary South African Art 1985 – 1995 from the South African National Gallery Permanent Collection. Cape Town: South African National Gallery.

Delfina Studio Trust (1990) Annual Group Show at Delfina Studios. London: Delfina.

Sebestyen, A (1990) Lallitha Jawahirilal, City Limits, 6-13 December 1990, 24

Oliphant, A. W. (1989) The art of Lallitha Jawahirilal. Staffrider8:2 (1989), 48-53
[download pdf here]

Academic theses mentioning works by Lallitha Jawahirilal 

Lilla, Q. (2018) Setting Art Apart: Inside and Outside the South African National Gallery (1895-2016). PhD Thesis, Stellenbosch University,
[download pdf here]

Adendorff, D. A. (2017) The Princess in the Veld: Curating Liminality in Contemporary South African Female Art Production. PhD Thesis, University of Pretoria.

Pillay, T. (2014) The artistic practices of contemporary South African Indian women artists : how race, class and gender affect the making of visual art. MA Thesis, Unisa,
[download pdf here]

Moodley, N. (2012) Culture, politics and identity in the visual art of Indian South African graduates from the University of Durban-Westville in KwaZulu-Natal, 1962-1999. PhD Thesis, UKZN,
[download pdf here]

Burger, M. A. C. (2005) Transformation within personal and public realms through contemporary artmaking processes. MA Thesis, University of Johannesburg
[dowlnload pdf here]

Malatjie, L. P. (2004) Framing the artwork of Tracey Rose and Berni Searle through black feminism. MA Thesis University of the Witwatersrand
[download pdf here]

White, E. 2004. There’s no place (like home) : a graphic interpretation of personal notions of home and displacement. MA Thesis, Unisa, University of Cape Town
[download pdf here]

Khan, S. (2006) A critical analysis of the iconography of six HIV/AIDS murals from Johannesburg and Durban, in terms of race, class and gender. MA Thesis University of the Witwatersrand,
[download pdf here]

Khan, S. (2002) A critical analysis of the depiction of women in murals in Kwazulu-Natal. Thesis in partial fulfilment of MA (Fine Arts), University of Durban-Westville. Supervisor: Sabine Marschall). [download pdf here]

WORKS: Lallitha Jawahirilal – Projects and Research

Projects and Research run by Lallitha Jawahirilal

1998 Research proposal
Puddled Sand and Red Ashes: A photographic documentary of the Kumbh Mela
Supervisor: Vedant Nanackachand, Department of Fine Art & History of Art, UDW
[download project outline here]

1997 Research survey
The role of public art in a post-apartheid society with special reference to the Greater Ladysmith area 1997-1998
Field workers: Lallitha Jawahirilal, Vukile Ntuli (Lecturers in Painting, UDW)
Supervisor: Vedant Nanackachand, Department of Fine Art & History of Art, UDW
Research Assistant: Tracey Andrew
[download questionnaire results here]
[download Aloe Park Primary Mural Project letters here]
[download Aloe Park Primary photo documentation here]
[download Ladysmith Provincial Hospital Mural Project letters here]

1995 Research project
The role of public art in a post-apartheid society with special reference to the Greater Ladysmith area 1995-1996 (coordinated together with Mr Vukile Ntuli, Lecturer in Painting)
Vedant Nanackachand, Department of Fine Art & History of Art, UDW
Students and artists from UDW and the greater Durban and Ladysmith Area
[download project outline here]

On the Wall of Reconciliation in Ladysmith (painted in 1995 by students from the Fine Arts Department at the University of Durban-Westvilleunder the co-ordination of Lallitha Jawahirilal) the rainbow motif dissolves and disintegrates into a layered wavy pattern that, in a sweeping motion, formally links separate panels and provides a useful compositional structure for dividing up the wall into separate emblematic units. With its expanding and contracting motions it appears alive and throbbing, thus off-setting some of the more rigid images. Its further appeal lies in the ambiguity of its meaning. In some sections the parallel stripes of primary colour, partly flowing out of a flag, prompt a reading as a rainbow, while in other sections the “rainbow” dissolves and integrates with the features of the landscape.

In: Marschall, S (2001) The Poetics of Politics, Safundi, 2:2, p. 9
doi: 10.1080/17533170100102201

WORKS: Lallitha Jawahirilal – Visual Art

Selected works 1990-2000

Alone in this wilderness I remain silent and unyielding (1991) 153 x 168 cm, oil on canvas
Untitled (1992)
Where does this mointain lead to (1993) oil on board
Untitled (1998)
I could severe this mind and lay it on your feet (2000)

Selected works 1980-1990

Untitled (Royal College of Art, 1980s) 56 x 41 cm
Untitled (1987) 76 x 63,5 cm, etching
What will become of you (1987), 76 x 56 cm, etching
Untitled (1988) 79 x 61 cm, oil on board
Untitled (1988) 137 x 152 cm, oil on board
Light vibrates with pleasure at the small of pire tragedy and restless nights (n.d)
No 10 (n.d)


INTERVIEWS/FEATURES: Lallitha Jawahirilal

Vuyile C Voyiya; Julie L McGee (2003) The luggage is still labeled : blackness in South African art. Documentary film, 60 mins.

Smithonian Libraries Modern African Art: A Basic Reading List
“For South African artists of color the demise of apartheid did not radically change access or attitudes. Separateness and difference still divide the contemporary art world into black and white. Black artists are beginning to take on some of these issues – – access, recognition, education. Despite initiatives such as Vakalisa (“Awake”), the Community Arts Project, or BLAC art project, South African artists of color are still disadvantaged. Formal art education, which was not available to artists of color in the apartheid days, remains an elitist enterprise with little collegial support. Michaelis School of Art in Cape Town has not yet shaken off its institutional racism in terms of student intake, faculty recruitment, or Eurocentric curriculum. Art criticism is similarly biased against artists of color. Old paradigms persist, e.g., “township art” or “black art.” Artists are still pigeon-holed. Freedom of artistic expression has not really arrived. Where are the black art critics? The South African National Gallery (SANG), formidable, unwelcoming, admits to huge gaps in its collections. Artists of color perceive SANG as another white bastion not yet breached. They feel that SANG is not interested in them and their work. To explore these issues of race and access the filmmakers conducted interviews with several South African artists and players on the art scene. Among those on camera are Peter E. Clarke, Garth Erasmus, Thembinkosi Goniwe, Zayd Minty, Gavin Younge, David Koloane, Mgcineni Sobopha, Berni Searle, Lallitha Jawahirilal, Gabisile Ngcobo, Moshekwa Langa, Graham Faulken, Marilyn Martin, the director of SANG, and writer Lionel Davis.”

Press clippings Lallitha Jawahirilal

WORKS: Lallitha Jawahirilal – Exhibitions

Exhibitions by/with Lallitha Jawahirilal

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2008 The African Art Centre, Durban
2002 Greatmore Studios, Cape Town
2001 Puddled Sand and Red Ashes, Monash University Faculty Gallery, Australia 
1999 Curwen Gallery, London
1996 New Academy Gallery, London
1994 New Academy Gallery, London
1991 Galerie Trapez, Berlin
1990 Gallery 21, Johannesburg
1990 198 Gallery, London
1985 Africa Centre, Stockholm 

Selected Group Exhibitions 

2007 ‘Confluence’, Kalakriti Art Gallery, Hyderabad
2007 16th Anniversary Art Salon, Bangalore
2006 ‘Art Camp’, Renaissance Art Centre, Mumbai
2005 River Arts & Music Festival, Ladysmith, South Africa
2004 ‘Decade Of Democracy’, South African National Gallery, Cape Town 
2003 ‘Journeys’, Ernest G. Welsh School of Art and Design, Atlanta
2001 ‘Jabulisa, The Art of KwaZulu Natal’, Durban Art Gallery, South Africa
2000 African Art Centre, Durban, South Africa
1999 Nico Malan Theatre, Cape Town
1998 ‘Kunst aus Südafrika’, Gallerie Seippel, Stuttgart, Germany 
1998 Newcastle Museum, United Kingdom
1997 Trienalle, Lalit Kala Academy, New Delhi
1996 ‘Conjures’, First Gallery, Johannesburg
1991 ‘Discerning Eye’,The Mall Galleries, London
1991 Barcelona International Biennale, Spain
1990 Contemporary Art Society, Art Market, Smith Gallery, London 
1990 ‘Broadgate’, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London 
1989 ‘Art London/89’, London
1987-8 Third International Bienniale Print Exhibition, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan 
1985 Mirror Reflecting Darkly: Black Women’s Art, Brixton Art Collective, London.


Mirror Reflecting Darkly: Black Women’s Art.
18 June – 6 July, Brixton Art Gallery, London.
Unpag. (10 pp.) exhibiyion catalogue. Group exhibition of 16 Black women artists collective. Artists included: Brenda Patricia Agard, Zarina Bhimji, Jennifer Comrie, Novette Cummings, Valentina Emenyeoni, Carole Enahoro, Elisabeth Jackson, Lallitha Jawahirilal, Rita Keegan, Christine Luboga, Sue Macfarlane, Olusola Oyeleye, Betty Vaughan Richards, Enoyte Wanagho, and Paula Williams. 8vo, orange covers.
Source: Brixton 50. Brixton Art Gallery Archive 1983-86

WORKS: Mamela Nyamza – Choreography — SHIFT

Choreographed and danced by Mamela Nyamza. Assistant director: Hannah Loewenthal

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.

The British Council funded Nyamza to create a piece about Eudy Simelane, Banyana Banyana star brutally murdered in 2008. apparently in response to her openly lesbian lifestyle. Initially, Nyamza struggles with the piece; ‘I got stuck because I felt like I had written the same work, about the two women. It was a simila thing. The others were shot and tied but this one was gang raped, stabbed and left in the field.’ ‘They said… she a “shero” in sports, a Banyana Banyana soccer player… While I was creating this work, when I was not actually creating, I was thinking about it the whole time. I was researching about her a lot, to a point where I thought, “It doesn’t take me somewhere I want to go.” Then there was a story about Caster Semenya… and I thought “Wow! Here’s the piece.” I realised I wasn’t going to talk about Eudy SImelane along {but] about women in sports.

‘So then I looked at women in sports in general; I looked at Zola Budd, back in the day; I looked at Caster Semenya. I even looked at wo,en overseas like the Williams sisters, Navratilova and the tennis; Eudy SImelane’s soccer, Banyana Banyana, and other women.’

With this change in direction, Nyamza’s imagination caught fire, leading to the creation of Shift. the work she performed at the Dance Umbrella. “Then is became personal. I went back – I was an athlete myself, at school; I was a sprinter… I used to be teased that I had legs like a boy’s, because I also used to do ballet, and then [my calf muscles] were really huge to a point where I was embarrassed to wear skirts. SO I saw the similarities, and then I thought the piece [would just show] my legs. SO I sis the piece in a white box – all white – with hanging balls.’ Nyamza begins the piece hanging suspended from a bar; this, along with the all white set, the presence of a fridge – which she ultimately climbs into, a cold coffin – are all symbolic of death, while several references to a kitchen also hark to the belief that women ‘must be cooking in the kitchen, [and] the fact that they’re killing women saying they they look so macho – those remarks about women in sports’.
CreativeFeel (formerly ClassicFeel)

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:

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: [download pdf here]

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