Monday 7 March 2011

[Oh Hello Oslo] Nicholas Hlobo at the Contemporary Art Museum

Last Thursday, Nikki and I went to the opening of Nicholas Hlobo's first solo exhibition in Oslo. Nikki being originally from South Africa and having a strong background in visual arts, this opening turned into a great experience as she introduced me not only to Hlobo's art and but also to a bit of South African culture. 

I was puzzled by the variety of Hlobo's art - performances, sketches, installations - and the unusual mix of materials: ribbon, paper, silicone, leather... 

“Life is a performance“. Hlobo is interested in how the body is the vehicle through which human beings present themselves in the world.'

'His works are richly layered, anchored in references to Xhosa culture and the experience of life in post-Apartheid South Africa, while reflecting upon themes of language and communication, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity.'

'He utilises techniques such as stitching and weaving, which are traditionally undertaken by women in South Africa. His choice of materials is similarly charged with meaning.'

The contrast between the rubber, an emblem of masculinity, and the ribbon, suggesting femininity, was particularly striking. The biggest installation was an amazing ribbon maze which looked gorgeous from the outside but turned out to be quite an uncomfortable experience. Once you walked in, the pretty ribbons completely cut you off from the rest of the room, it was much darker than expected and almost suffocating. Another contrast which made me appreciate how Hlobo's work is more about experimenting than just judging aesthetics. 

Nikki in the maze.

Sources: Museet for Samtidskunst • Tate Modern.
Photos taken by me.

Read more here.