PAMELA PHATSIMO SUNSTRUM & THENJIWE NIKI NKOSI
22 September - 14 October 2015
Commune.1 is proud to present an exhibition of new work by Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum and Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi.
In 'TERRITORIES', Sunstrum presents a new suite of figure drawings. In each drawing, a single figure blurs between one physical gesture and the next. This overlapping implies a compounding of time or a ‘seeing-through-time’. Sunstrum’s work has long sought parallels between the ways ancient cosmologies and contemporary sciences make sense of the universe and our experience of it. In these drawings, she considers 18th century European philosophers’ fascination with mountains, a fascination that informed their influential meditations on 'the Sublime'. Mountains – immense and apparently immutable – have inspired a dual sense of beauty and mortal terror since earliest recorded history. By allowing the intertwining human figures to contain the mountain forms, Sunstrum gently argues for 'the Sublime' as an experience of the simultaneous smallness and boundlessness of the universe.
Nkosi wants the viewer to consider her paintings in 'TERRITORIES' as a cycle of images – the visual equivalent of a poem cycle. Each individual picture is complete in and of itself, but finds its ultimate significance only in interaction with the others. Here is a story with chapters that can be positioned interchangeably to create different narratives on the same themes. The themes are simultaneously a reprisal and a development of familiar contemplations in Nkosi’s work, rooted in the murky binaries of power – the natural and the constructed; conflict and harmony; presence and absence. Because of the multiplicity of ways of experiencing a gallery exhibition, the meaning of the overall cycle resists definition. There are countless routes through this troubled territory; each leads the viewer to a new conclusion, and beginning.
Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum is an artist working in the fields of drawing, animation, installation and performance. Her work has been shown at the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Artists in New York, The Kitchen in New York, Davidson College in North Carolina, the Pretoria Art Museum, the Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture, Tiwani Gallery in London, the Ithuba Arts Gallery in Johannesburg, the FRAC Gallery in Carquefou, France, and the 2012 Havana Biennale in Cuba. Her work explores the political possibilities of imagining and occupying what she calls ‘Mythologies of the Future.’ Sunstrum was born in Mochudi, Botswana and grew up living in different parts of Africa, Asia and North America. After completing her Masters in Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, USA, Sunstrum returned to Johannesburg where she currently lives and works.
Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi was born in New York and has lived in Harare and Johannesburg on and off since the early 1990s. She is a painter, video artist and filmmaker who divides her time between studio work and navigating the field of art as social practice. Her work investigates power and its structures – political, social, architectural. Implicit in her examination of these structures is an interrogation of the invisible forces that create them, and an imagining of alternatives. Her paintings and films have been shown at the Ifa Gallery in Berlin, the South London Gallery, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rio de Janeiro and the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg. Reflections on the collaborative project Border Farm will be included in the publications Wide Angle: Photography as Public Practice (Fourthwall) and What We Want is Free: Critical Exchanges in Recent Art (SUNY Press). Nkosi obtained her BA from Harvard University and her MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York