FNB Art Joburg
Sandton Convention
Centre, Johannesburg,
South Africa

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The 8th Yokohama Triennale | Wild Grass: Our Lives

with Lungiswa Gqunta


One of the ambitions BMW Young Collectors Co. has is to forge a sound future for culture by encouraging young collectors to actively engage with the creative economy. Socio-educational, this involves blending social encounters with educational opportunities. With this in mind, here’s what members can expect for the year ahead.

In 1862, when Abraham Lincoln enacted the Homestead Act in North America, he gave white settlers the right to claim 160 acres of public land as their own. With this came the need to establish physical boundaries that would keep the desired in and the unwanted out. Hedges would not suffice and neither would a wooden fence. Likely to puncture the skin, versatile, affordable and easy to install, the invention of barbed wire was effective in cost and its threat of violence. The primary material used in Lungiswa Gqunta’s Benisiya Ndawoni, the installation acknowledges barbed wire’s persistent legacy.

When Lungiswa Gqunta initially conceptualised the work Benisiya Ndawoni, its function was two fold. The first was a question posed to the historical communities of people who were removed from their homes and forced to make new ones elsewhere. Its second was a prompt to the contemporary communities in those lineages to consider how migration patterns manifest themselves in our today. In response to the invitation to show at the 8th edition of the Yokohama Triennale, Gqunta chose to embrace the theme Wild Grass: Our Lives by offering a new rendition of Benisiya Ndawoni

A call to trace the origins of our collective social, political, environmental and economic issues including war, climate change, financial disparity and intolerance to diversity, the Yokohama Triennale looks to unlock a way (or ways) forward. 

First seen at WHATIFTHEWORLD as a part of the exhibition Qwitha, Benisiya Ndawoni has traveled and had several, context contingent, iterations. In the triennial context, Gqunta says the work and her practice have the opportunity to unfold in ways that are outside of contemporary art’s commercial confines. “I rely on these massive shows to stretch my thinking and imagining around what is possible with my work. Not only scale wise, but also as a space of learning for myself and anyone who encounters it.”

On the learning that Gqunta speaks of, Benisiya Ndawoni is as much of a physical experience as it is visual because it utilises the span of the gallery to dictate or affect the movement of its audiences. To walk the installation, audiences must duck, dive and tread with caution to avoid an encounter with the barbed wire. Visceral, the work requires active engagement that subverts the passivity with which other mediums may permit. A part of this collective tracing, Gqunta’s work materialises the act of trying to navigate while negotiating the limits, borders, divisions and confines violently set up to disenfranchise. “It was thinking of and holding heavy the grief of the Palestinian, Congolese and Sudanese genocides. It is many things and some of those things I am still learning today,” she says. 

Although disruptive because of the ways it challenges our understanding and experience with access and the enjoyment that comes with engaging with culture, in so-called public spaces, the application of Benisiya Ndawoni discards false resolve and gifts its audience with questions that leave them complicit in the work that the Yokohama Triennale is calling for.



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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

144 Oxford Rd, Rosebank

8 September 2023

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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