As we are currently celebrating Women’s month, it was perfect timing for iQhiya Collective to be exhibiting their body of work. On the 26th of July, the KZNSA gallery was buzzing with excitement to see the 1st iQhiya Exhibition opening in Durban.
This exhibition is part of KZNSA’s Social Art Programme 2014-2017, funded by the National Lotteries Commission. Sisipho Ngodwana and Buhlebezwe Siwani, curated the gallery white walls with an impeccably spiritual aura that I haven’t witness in a while.
iQhiya is a collective of 11 young black women based in Cape Town and Johannesburg, working across performance art, video, photography, installation and various other mediums. All 11 women share a Cape Town Michaelis Art School of Fine Art background. They include Asemahle Ntlonti, Bronwyn Katz, Buhlebezwe Siwani, Bonolo Kavula, Charity Matlhogonolo Kelapile, Lungiswa Gqunta, Pinky Mayeng, Sethembile Msezane, Sisipho Ngodwana, Thandiwe Msebenzi, and Thuli Gamedze.
Having to create and write about art individually, but have also simultaneously gain attention by working so harmoniously together.
Pinky Mayeng, Moriri, 2014
I had first came across the collective online when they did a performance called Commute part II where they staged a red carpet party with Beyonce playing, popping sparkling wine in a mini bus taxi right outside of a prominent art space. Most of their performance pieces are situate in spaces where they felt black women are invisible in. Ever since then I had been fascinated by their individual bodies of work and them as a collective.
In the visual art industry young black female artists are predominantly underrepresented. Forming this group was their way of questioning the system which is predominantly white male dominated. They held a LAB TALK for womxn the day after the exhibition opening the artist and traditional healer Buhlebezwe Siwani started the discussion by saying
“We are not a collective of feminists; we all have our own agendas. We came together because we wanted to support each other. We came together because we wanted to exhibit with each other. We wanted to show people that eleven black strong personalities are able to work with each other you know, women can work together”
The exhibition translated in a way that every artist was working on themselves. They continue to deal with their daily experiences through art. Tackling and engaging with the audience on issues of displacement and replacement as black women, the white gaze, spirituality, colonialism, decolonisation of art, experimental investigations of their own individual past and the list is endless.
These women are a force much needed currently with everything happening in our country. They are raising questions and taking ownership of their narratives. Make sure you check out the exhibition currently on at the KZNSA gallery until the 13th of August, you just have to see it live.