The Kaleidoscope of Black Life (I)

Our latest issue features the works of seven artists who deftly deploy diverse materials to depict varied dimensions of Black life with sensitivity and nuance, each like a single hue in a kaleidoscope.

A collage by Tshepiso Moropa. It shows a cut out of the face and arms of a young Black girl, sitting against a victorian era cotton night gown, such that she appears to be dressed in the night gown. She also appears to float mid air, a sense that is affirmed by a bird appearing to fly toward her. Both figures (bird and girl) sit on a black background.

From The Show by Tshepiso Moropa

Our latest issue features works by seven artists—Siviwe James, Nabeel Essa and Tanzeem Razak (working as a pair), Tshepiso Moropa, Zani Sizani, Lebo Thoka, and Kameron Walker—that cast light on the kaleidoscope of Black life.

They are the first group of finalists, selected by artist and educator Sedey Gebreyes, and curators Liz Ikiriko, and Janine Gaëlle Dieudji, for their originality and visual appeal, from more than 100 submissions that came in via our second global call for art, held in 2023. (The second group of artists will feature in other issues to be published this year.)

Based in South Africa and the United States, these artists deftly deploy multiple materials and techniques—bamboo, archival research and projection, painting, pen work and photography, and collage, digital manipulation, and installation—in their explorations of urban Black life, womanhood, collective memory, and identity.

In the foreground of each piece, there is a Black body deliberately represented without tonal range to eliminate the relevance of shade yet highlight the importance of Black beauty, stillness, nonchalance and lightness—all states in which Black people exist but are so rarely depicted.”

Zani Sizani on her series entitled "My City"

Rooted in each artist's specific worldview and experience, these works offer doorways to look, with close attention, at the multi-layered realities of contemporary Black life.

See more below.

Art

Drawing Memory into Being (2023)Drawing Memory into Being (2023)

Amid fading memories and enduring legacies of apartheid-era forced removals, this installation seeks to reclaim agency through memory.

By Tanzeem Razak and Nabeel Essa
Art

Ukubuyiswa Nokukhanya (2022)Ukubuyiswa Nokukhanya (2022)

By cutting, splicing, and layering images and texts, Siviwe James endeavours to re-member herself into the past.

By Siviwe James

South Africa

Art

My City (2023)My City (2023)

Zani Sizani's mixed media artworks speak to a longing for ancestral connection and a return to cultural practices needed for the spiritual enrichment of Black souls.

By Zani Sizani

South Africa

Art

Black of My Flesh (2020)Black of My Flesh (2020)

Casting the figure of Mary as a Black woman, Lebo Thoka attempts to subvert Eurocentric ideals and explore Black womanhood on its own terms.

By Lebo Thoka

South Africa

Art

The Show (2023)The Show (2023)

Tshepiso Moropa strives to breathe new life into forgotten narratives and create a visual symphony that resounds with the depths of the Black experience.

By Tshepiso Moropa

South Africa

Art

Presidential (2022)Presidential (2022)

Kameron Walker’s work seeks to document the connections and capture the realities of Black urban life.

By Kameron Walker

United States of America

More from this issue

Feature
An illustration of an apartheid-era passbook with a photo of a black man with text below calling for a boycott of Polaroid

The Labour of SolidarityThe Labour of Solidarity

Race Beyond Borders

The Future of BlacknessThe Future of Blackness

Feature

Bridging Black Worlds: South Africa and the United StatesBridging Black Worlds: South Africa and the United States

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