FNB Art Joburg
Sandton Convention
Centre, Johannesburg,
South Africa

Exhibition of Interest

Locating Spaces of Urgency: Chapter 1: Endlovini

with Wezile Harmans

Wezile Harmans is an interdisciplinary artist with a practice that encompasses a plethora of mediums including performance, film, and installation to facilitate thought toward social change. In all its iterations, Harmans’ approach prioritises this objective through public participation that garners a consent that leads to an empathetic engagement. We consider this in the context of his show Locating Spaces of Urgency: Chapter 1: Endlovini, currently exhibited at WHATIFTHEWORLD

To start, let us consider the act of locating urgency. Urgency is signified by the pressing need for prompt action or attention. Informed by constraints, impending harm or a set of grave consequences, if timely action is not taken, it leaves little room for autonomous action. A set of actions toward situating urgency in a particular place or context, Wezile Harmans’ exhibition collaborates with inhabitants of endlovini to conduct the first part of the research project. “This is the first space that I am identifying. It is also a space that is close to me. I can relate to people establishing informal houses out of the necessity of being close to the city,” explains Harmans.

An isiXhosa verb, ukundlova refers to the act of identifying a vacant piece of land to settle on. A matter of urgency, it is a response towards the necessity of shelter, grounding, and belonging that follows forced removal or unexpected displacement. The site where ukundlova is successful is referred to as Endlovini. A practice rooted in interceding on behalf of the disenfranchised, Harmans explains this as giving in to the need to “ have a wider understanding of how do we position our bodies in familiar and unfamiliar spaces.”

Known to foster empathy towards social change, one of the interventions Harmans used in his research was sitting in moments of displacement that he was subjected to throughout making the work and leading up to the exhibition. “As much as I study human behaviour and as much as I study the movement of the bodies from one place to another to see how spaces and places are created or developed, drawing from personal experiences is important for the sincerity of the work,” he asserts in regards to the fine line between disseminating and appropriating witnessed and not lived experiences.

Composed of found objects, silk cloth, mutton cloth, thread, wood, photography and transcribed performance, Locating Spaces of Urgency demonstrates and celebrates the absurd upsurgence of joy making in spite of crises.