Nicholas Hlobo
Izele

17 August - 16 September 2006

Michael Stevenson is pleased to present the first solo exhibition of Nicholas Hlobo.

Hlobo has built up a distinctive body of work that engages the viewer in conversations about sexual identity, masculinity and ethnicity. To these ends he harnesses the associative potential of materials such as rubber inner tubes, ribbon, soap, silicon and found objects, and makes use of his own body in performance. He frequently refers to Xhosa rituals and idioms. The exhibition encompasses, among other things, "comfort, shelter, protection, beauty, cleanliness, sacred space, pleasure and fantasy".

The title of the exhibition, Izele, means "someone or something has given birth". But, Hlobo says, "it has a double meaning. It could mean, for example, when you go to a tap and fill up a jug - Izele ijug, is the jug full? Zalisa ijug ngamanzi, fill the jug with water. It means filling something, or adding to something." Birth, conception and sex are concepts that recur throughout the show.

Hlobo writes about some of the works:

We will look at military camps, which signify protection, destruction and display of power. When in trouble soldiers would drop their tents to send a signal to their friends alerting them of an invasion. This is where the work Intente plays its part. It is inspired by the idea of a tent as something that gives shelter and is also a symbol of power and masculinity. Young Xhosa men at times refer to someone having an erection as umis' iintente, 'he's got his tents up'. The thought of something pushing from below with great pressure can be related to the struggle for equal rights by homosexual men and women.

Gay men have always reserved some space for fun and celebration of who they are. Drag queens, celebrated in Imtyibilizi xa yomile, do the best work with regards to celebrating difference and showing pride in being the minority. However, to some this doesn't come easy - the performance becomes a weapon through which they fight the heavy baggage that comes with being gay.

To finish off the drama, we'll go into one of the sacred spaces in Xhosa culture. This space is the kraal. Most prayers and offerings to the ancestors take place in the sacred space called ubuhlanti or uthango or isibaya - all these words mean a kraal. This is a man's place and men come together here to discuss things that hit hard and deep in the man's world.

Hlobo was born in Cape Town in 1975, has a B Tech degree from the Wits Technikon (2002), and is based in Johannesburg. He has taken part in group exhibitions including Olvida Quien Soy - Erase Me from Who I Am at the Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno in Las Palmas (2006); Inventors, Makers and Movers at Arti et Amicitiae, Amsterdam (2005); Take Me to the River at Pretoria Art Museum (2005); A Decade of Democracy: Witnessing South Africa at the Museum of the National Center for Afro-American Artists, Boston, and other venues (2004-5); and has been selected for Trans Cape (24 March - 2 May 2007). He spent three months in residence at the Thami Mnyele Foundation studios in Amsterdam in 2005. He is the winner of the Tollman Award for Visual Art 2006, and will take up an Ampersand Fellowship in New York in 2007.

Texts on the works are by Nicholas Hlobo, interviewed by Sophie Perryer
Click on titles to view larger images and texts



Intente
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Chitha
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Ndiyafuna
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Umthubi
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Isisindo samadlozi
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Dream catcher
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Iqinile and Bhaxa



Bhaxa



Unongayindoda (installation including Imtyibilizi xa yomile)
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Imtyibilizi xa yomile (detail)
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In a while
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Boots from the performance Igqirha lendlela
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Boots from the performance Igqirha lendlela
NFS



Unojubalala
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Xakatha
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Full blown
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Umkwetha



Umkwetha



Umkwetha



Umkwetha


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2006 Michael Stevenson. All rights reserved.