AfrikaBurn is proud to host its first arts residency exhibition, titled: “MELD.” This exhibition showcases the culmination of four months of professional practice for two emerging South African artists seeking to enhance their skills and further their body of work.
The MELD exhibition is set to grace the creative project space at the old home of AfrikaBurn HQ – the Bijou Theatre in Lower Main, Observatory, Cape Town, from 26 January to 1 February 2024, with the exhibition’s opening on the evening of 26 January from 6pm to 9pm.
This exhibition and the residency have been developed by AfrikaBurn and funded by the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme (PESP) through the Art Bank of South Africa, highlighting the organisation’s commitment to partnering with organisations and individuals that foster artistic growth and development.
The artists in residence also helped to develop the poster artwork for the AfrikaBurn event – CREATION. The 2024 poster will be revealed for the first time at the MELD exhibition.
As a part of the residency, the artists were invited to spend time in Quaggafontein, the forever home of AfrikaBurn, which borders the Tankwa Karoo National Park. They were encouraged to use their stay and the landscapes, fauna, flora and starscapes to inform their bodies of work.
It was a joy to be back in the dust. To be startled by snakes and chased by flies. To walk the land and accept its offerings. To be gifted desiccated lizards and to dance on cliffs. To return to the tribe to show them what I found in the dust this time. – Ariel Taverner “The Son”
Based on the success and the learnings of this arts residency, AfrikaBurn plans to establish a more broad-ranging arts residency programme based in this remote region of South Africa.
My experience in the Tankwa was both beautiful and challenging. It was my first time in the desert, and creating work in such a setting was humbling. The severe terrain was challenging and draining at the same time, but the Tankwa desert’s fascinating scenery was stunning. – Zama Mwandla.
About the artists:
Zama Mwandla, a young and unapologetic artist from Johannesburg, focused her residency work on the victims of sexual trauma and abuse, seeking means to heal from their traumatic pasts, exploring themes of revenge, fantasies, sexual pleasures, psychological traumas and healing.
Zama’s artworks showcase a series of surreal human-hybrid characters in vibrant colours, aiming to captivate and challenge a male audience to engage with her subject matter. Mwandla’s bold storytelling transforms horrific acts of violence, rumination, psychopathic imagination, rage, and grievance into relatable elements within the fantasy world, presented in recurring scenes.
Zama graduated from Wits University with a BAFA (Honors) and has already received multiple awards for her artwork, which has been featured in exhibitions like the African Feminism Exhibition and the Joburg Fringe.
Ariel Taverner, embodying his performative persona “The Son,” unveils his project titled “Staves for Healing Men.” The Son grapples with themes of masculinity, nature as a church, and SPIRITUAL and environmental engagement as a meditative practice, creating an ongoing body of work.
Venturing into nature, The Son collects natural materials like bones, sticks, and insects, guided by a spiritual calling. These elements become part of his artistic practice, constructing masculine ceremonial regalia and chimeric creatures, symbolising the interconnectedness of life and nature and Masculinity’s divine place within that. The esoteric value of each found object lies in its sentimental, conceptual, inspirational, or memory-laden significance.
Ultimately, The Son envisions and depicts masculinity as gentle, ceremonial, and beautiful. Advocating for the healing and reimagining of healthy masculinity, Staves for Healing Men is a transformative journey away from the pathos of toxic Masculinity.