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October 6, 2022–January 29, 2023
Dineo Seshee Bopape’s first retrospective exhibition, Born in the first light of the morning [moswara’marapo], will be on display at Pirelli HangarBicocca from October 6, 2022, to January 29, 2023. The artist creates a poetic visual landscape at Pirelli HangarBicocca using a distinctive fusion of moving pictures, sound elements, wall drawings, and a thriving earthly vocabulary that includes soil, water, clay, bricks, herbs, wood, and natural light. This work offers insights on the concepts of memory—corporeally, materially, and sociopolitically—and the reconciliation of self and story.
Dineo Seshee Bopape (born in Polokwane, South Africa, in 1981; currently residing in Johannesburg) is known for combining organic and highly symbolic materials with technological and digital aesthetic vocabulary in his work. The artist weaves stories in which maternal and female corporeality, take on a substantial role in investigating mythologies and ancestral archetypes (rock, water, fire, air), often “questioning” the archived, the aftereffects of colonialisms, and the political and spiritual function(s) of memory, drawing on her own experiences related to her home country of South Africa and its threads, tentacles, and mirrors to elsewheres.
The exhibition features several installations, wall drawings, and videos, including a recent creation, according to curators Lucia Aspesi and Fiammetta Griccioli. During one of Bopape’s visits to Italy, he made recordings in a marble quarry in the Tuscan Apennines, which he later used to create Mothabeng (2022), a sound sculpture. With these statements, Bopape challenges us to reconsider the idea of a work of art itself, considered as a conduit between the tangible and immaterial worlds and transdurational experiences. The title of the exhibition conjures both a condition of rebirth and states of transitions and transmutations. The artist specifically expands the conceptual boundaries of the work by using both English and SePedi, one of South Africa’s BaNtu languages, and her mother tongue.
Light, evoked in the title, also performs as a visual element in the exhibition, bringing up a reflection on the spatial and nonlinear dimension of time, as linked to the complementary physical-perceptual relation between light and darkness, dawn and dusk. Upon entering the exhibition, the visitors are welcomed in the half-light by works where the moving image is central—such as lerato laka le a phela le a phela / my love is alive, is alive, is alive (2022) and (Serithi) The rest, as they used to say, is story (2021). By contrast, as viewers move through, natural light directly enters the space through large windows open on both sides of the building, shaping spatial installations that make use of organic materials—for example, Lerole: footnotes (The struggle of memory against forgetting) (2017). Through these juxtapositions, the artist provides an unprecedented topography of her work, in which material installations and indigenous African architectural structures mingle with digital and immaterial pieces: an iridescent landscape that transforms according to the time of day and weather conditions.
Sincere gratitude to the Henraux Foundation for supporting the creation of Mothabeng (2022). TBA21-Academy commissioned and co-produced the piece lerato laka le a phela le a phela le a phela / my love is alive, is alive, is alive (2022) with Pirelli HangarBicocca.
The first monograph about the artist will complement the exhibition at Pirelli HangarBicocca. In addition to a text written by the show curators, the catalogue includes essays from prominent international art historians and critics such Chus Martnez, Dr. Uhuru Phalafala, and Kwanele Sosibo. Lerole: The Struggle of Memory Against Forgetting (2017), a chronology put together by the artist from her research on acts of rebellion and resistance claimed by generations of African people in the face of oppression and colonialisms, is also covered in-depth along with extensive photographic documentation of the exhibition project at Pirelli HangarBicocca.
The exhibition program
“Born in the first light of the morning [moswara’marapo]” is part of the 2022-2023 exhibition programme, conceived by Artistic Director Vicente Todolí in collaboration with the curatorial department: Roberta Tenconi, Curator; Lucia Aspesi, Assistant Curator; Fiammetta Griccioli, Assistant Curator. The program continues, in the Navate space, with the exhibitions of Bruce Nauman (until February 26, 2023); Ann Veronica Janssens (April 6 to July 30, 2023); and James Lee Byars (October 12, 2023 to February 18, 2024). The Shed space hosts Gian Maria Tosatti (February 23 to July 30, 2023); and Thao Nguyen Phan (September 14, 2023 to January 14, 2024).
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