FNB Art Joburg
06-08.09.24
Sandton Convention
Centre, Johannesburg,
South Africa

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Theme of Interest

If gathering in grief gives growth

with Helena Uambembe

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Currently exhibited at Jahmek Contemporary Art in Angola, Helena Uambembe’s In Memory We Love is an invitation to gather in grief. In this week’s Of Interest, we consider the ways the exhibition’s charge extends beyond her previous interventions.

An interdisciplinary artist, Helena Uambembe moves between performance, installation, photography and printmaking with ease. Filling in gaps and questioning existing narratives on the 32 Battalion, which disbanded before she was born, Helena acts as an intermediary; sensitive and empathetic to her surroundings. Giving in to the urge to play, feel, love and digress in her studio, hers is a practice open to accessing resources whose reach exceeds those confined to Western academia.

On her solo exhibition In Memory We Love, Helena has little to say. “The process of mourning is an opportunity to gather, to reconnect.” An installation fashioned after a funeral, on either side of a narrow aisle in Jahmek Contemporary Art, three rows of three white plastic chairs sit facing a table. Dressed in a white table cloth, the table is adorned with vases of artificial flowers, a book of condolences and a certificate written in Portuguese that reads, “I invite you to sit down and have a moment of pause, reflection and awakening with me.” Bearing Helena’s signature next to the date, it’s not clear whose funeral this is supposed to be.

Although a funeral setting, In Memory We Love is not looking at loss from a point of sorrow. Instead it is an attempt to understand and create room for those left on this plane to continue, connect and transfer knowledge as well as tradition. Like Helena says, “Through the ritual of mourning, the wake and the funeral; language is respoken and archived. Identity and self care are reconnected through hymns sung in Umbundu, Chokwe, Ngangela and other languages spoken in Namibia and Angola.” More a returning than a leaving, Helena’s perspective offers hope, not only to the grieving but the disconnected.

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Ruth Ige. Don't hide your glory, 2022.
Acrylic on canvas. 122 x 122cm. (© Copyright 2022, STEVENSON. All rights reserved)

Friday, 8th September

Collection tour of Anglo American

Location
144 Oxford Rd, Rosebank

Date
8 September 2023
11am

Event details

The Anglo American art and object collection is a combination of art collected over several decades through four different companies: Anglo American, de Beers Group, Anglo American Platinum and Kumba Iron Ore.

The collection comprises of 3600 works, with around 1000 pieces in the collection on display at the newly commissioned Rosebank offices. Although vast, the collection experienced an acquisition hiatus from the early 2000s until 2021 creating a significant gap in the collection’s representation of contemporary art. The collection now has a dedicated curator, Megan Scott, tasked with its cataloguing and digitisation, opening an exciting new chapter which will see the gradual procurement of significant works that reflect our contemporary South African and African art world.

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