Artspace

Sabelo Mlangeni

Heartbreaker

July 1 - August 27, 2016
Opening Friday July 1, 6pm

Public Programme  

Sabelo Mlangeni
Sabelo Mlangeni, Xolani Ngayi, eStanela, (2009) from the Country girls series
 
 
Sabelo Mlangeni’s solo exhibition entitled Heartbreaker at Artspace NZ brings three different photographic series within specific installation techniques designed for each body of work. Firstly, a select list of images from The Garden of Eden series, taken in Berlin’s Tiegarten, are installed in an abstracted maze-like formation – a kind of labyrinth in the middle of the space that functions as a reference to the nature of the park; its convoluted mix of paths and partially obstructed sightlines, where one catches glimpses of human activity and movement. During a residency in Berlin, while living close to Tiergarten, Mlangeni observed evidence of cruising and sexual activities. His series documents the invisible life and action through its left over traces. 
 
The exhibition also presents photographs from the series Country Girls, 2003-2009 taken in small towns in the province of Mpumalanga: namely, Driefontein, Ermelo, Bethal, Platrand, Piet Retief, Standerton and Sekunda – all nodes of mining, agriculture, forestry and coal-fed power stations. Within these environments township life is both rough and poor. Yet Mlangeni’s portraits of queer rural life provide an image of glamour that defies the perhaps perceived bleakness of its surroundings. Within these glimpses of everyday life a sense of intimacy, attachment and communal solidarity announces itself. 
 
Selected images from the series Isivumelwano: An Agreement, 2003-2014 shot at various Southern African wedding ceremonies, are exhibited within a custom-built mirrored installation. Mlangeni notes how he first used a camera at a wedding in 1997 but unfortunately never had the opportunity to see the fruits of his labour as the bride picked the images straight from the lab. This series is therefore borne out of an attempt to reprise a moment lost. Not only does the series depict a union between two, it captures the communities gathered for these ceremonies in its role as a cultural document of the associated ritual and pageantry.
 
Finally, Mlangeni presents a work-in-progress – taken on Auckland’s Karangahape Road (K’Rd) – through an interactive presentation of a selected contact sheet displayed on a light box and viewable through a loupe. 
 
Sabelo Mlangeni (b. 1980, South Africa) lives and works in Johannesburg. Mlangeni uses black-and-white photography to document and capture aspects of contemporary South African society in the decades following the abolition of apartheid. His subject matter ranges from queer communities in rural locales, members of the urban working classes as well as several other groups whose presence is often marginalised. 
 
Recent group exhibitions by Mlangeni include Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life at Museum Africa, Johannesburg (2015); Distance and Desire: Encounters with the African Archive at the Walther Collection in Ulm, Germany (2013-2014). Public Intimacy: Art and Social Life in South Africa at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2014); Apartheid and After at Huis Marseille, Amsterdam (2014); the Lubumbashi Biennale (2013); the Liverpool Biennial exhibition The Unexpected Guest (2012); 9th Rencontres de Bamako African Photography Biennial in Mali and the Lagos Photo Festival, Nigeria (both 2011); Appropriated Landscapes at the Walther Collection, Ulm, Germany (2011) and Figures and Fictions: Contemporary South African photography at the V&A Museum, London (2011).
 
Solo presentations from Chen Chieh-jenPip Culbert and Sabelo Mlangeni take place within the framework of “Singular Pluralities ∞ Plural Singularities”, a series of solo exhibitions which began in 2015. Focusing on artistic research and exhibition methodology, the series experiments with installation strategies, and event structures. Through the three parallel exhibitions Artspace will explore studio processes and artistic approaches in conversation with the audience. 
 

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Public Programme

 
Friday July 1, 6:30pm:
Introduction speech by Misal Adnan Yıldız and visiting artist Sabelo Mlangeni
 
Saturday July 2
12pm: SO WHERE DOES PIP CULBERT FIT?
Christina Barton and Peter Robinson discuss the practice of Pip Culbert, moderated by Danae Mossman
 
(break)
 
2pm: POLITICS OF REPRESENTATION / POLITICS OF IMAGES
John Mutambu and Misal Adnan Yıldız in conversation with Sabelo Mlangeni
 
Wednesday August 3
A critical voice from Taipei: CURATORIAL RESEARCH & INSTITUTIONAL PROGRAMMING
Esther Lu, Director of Taipei Contemporary Art Center TCAC in conversation with Misal Adnan Yıldız
 
August 4
Workshop with Chen Chieh-jen. Registrations are now closed.
 
August 5, 6pm
Public Lecture By Chen Chieh-jen 
THE STORY OF LOSHENG SANATORIUM AND 
MAKING OF REALM OF REVERBERATIONS
 
Mlangeni's visit to Auckland has been supported by the Bijou Art Group.