The Sasol New Signatures Art Competition, is presented annually in collaboration with the Association of Arts Pretoria and is the longest running art competition in South Africa. Now in its 51st year and sponsored by Sasol for 29 years, this prestigious competition has attracted thousands of entries from across the country, and produced hundreds of finalists, many of whom have gone on to make their mark on the local and international art scene. On Wednesday 29 August the winner, runner up and five merit award winners for 2018 will be announced.
Lebohang Kganye who was placed first overall in 2017, received R100 000 in prize money and the opportunity to hold her first solo exhibition. This exhibition titled Mohlokomedi wa Tora (Lighthouse Keeper), will run in conjunction with the 2018 Sasol New Signatures exhibition from 30 August until 7 October, at the Pretoria Art Museum. The exhibition will also feature the 2018 winner, runner up and five merit award winners as well as 87 finalists, all of whom are included in the highly respected competition catalogue.
Kganye acknowledges that the R100 000 prize money gave her the financial means and technical support to work with an exhibition designer to resolve challenges presented by her vision for a large-scale installation. The opportunity to collaborate with experts means her work has been able to move in a new direction resulting in a work featuring a combination of mediums and disciplines.
In this work Kganye expands her complex visual vocabulary, rooted in traditional photography, to include sculptural elements and a spinning light for the life-size installation. Mohlokomedi wa Tora draws attention to the notion of family and how the influence of personal and political bias results in dynastic mythologies.
The installation constantly moves to create uninterrupted images and has four points of entry representing the four branches of the artist’s family, whilst the spinning light feature on top of a table mimics a traditional photocopier light which “scans” the surroundings and immerses the intruding audience in light. This table symbolises years of shared familial experiences and echoes the scene in Vincent van Gogh’s Potato Eaters (1885) and suggests shared disadvantages are separated by time and geography.
The narrow physical passages of this work allude to crowded living conditions experienced by township dwellers and the resulting forced intimacies. Contemporaneously the constant motion of the installation and the audience talks to migration, the creation and destruction of family, desire to escape the shadows of poverty and ironically at the same time becoming another shadow.
“Winning Sasol New Signatures has been an encouraging journey that forced me to further challenge myself. It presented many opportunities by allowing me to expand my horizon, by compelling me to take a risk. The process of creating new work is uncomfortable; it's actually scary. This entire process took something from me. I can only hope that those that receive the work nurture it by fully immersing themselves in the experience”, concluded Lebohang Kganye.
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