This past Friday Thapong Visual Arts Centre in partnership with British Council Southern Africa Arts / British Council Botswana exhibited engaging cross-disciplinary works by three emerging local artists.
Tumelo Bogatsu, Legakwanaleo Makgekgenene and Kago Monageng were selected and given industry mentoring.
The offer also included an artist fee of P30,000 each to showcase new commissioned creative works at Thapong Visual Art Centre and key locations around Gaborone,
Dabbed Echoes of (Un) Silenced Voices (#echoesuv), the events is the inaugural and historic creative arts project that offers young emerging artists in Botswana the opportunity to experiment and make use of local narratives to create innovative new artworks. The exhibition showcases new approaches to creative art making in Botswana and encourage public participation through engaging social dialogue on a multiple emerging issues.
The project launched with an open call for artists on April 9, 2019. It received numerous applications from across Botswana including musicians, visual artists, choreographers, fashion designers and many more. The judging panels comprised Grace Meadows from South Africa, Melissa Hinkin from the United Kingdom, Tumelo Thuthuka and Gape Gabriel from Botswana respectively.
Opening the exhibition, Thuthuka explained the exhibition signals the rebirth of a subconscious artist and dimension of an artistic voice that echoes possibilities of a brighter creative future for the local artist sphere.
“Being part of this has been exiting and it offered the opportunity to learn and grow,” he said. In his view, the exhibition is a testimony that artists are equally capable and more enlightened. He said the creative industry could be an alternative to formal employment.
For her part, Hinkin who is a curator based in Cardiff said it was a pleasure working with the three artists over the past few months. “The exhibiting artists were selected from a wonderful group of artists and we were impressed by the applications that came through.
It was a fantastic to find out about the artistic practice in Botswana,” she said. Hinkin also said experience gave her the opportunity to work differently than she does in the UK. “I am really impressed by the enthusiasm, dedication and utter commitment from the artists”.
Bogatsu’s project is called ‘Cultural diversification military’ and it is a political dance piece that challenges the stigma and negative notions around urban dance and hip hop in Botswana. Over the 20 minutes performance the dancers stage a series of narrated choreographed pieces that subtly blend these urban dance genres with a variation of Botswana indigenous traditional dances.
Makgekgenene’s ‘Baitshireletsi’ project is a performance and installation that considers contemporary constructions of both femininity and masculinity in Botswana. It also explores the two feed into gender-based discrimination and violence.
The figures central in the performance create a sub-reality as they move through space, their peculiar presence is powerful in its peculiarity, both haunting and enchanting. The artwork focuses on the disdain for LGBTQIA+ concerns, notions of sexuality and access to adequate sex education.
Lastly Monageng’s ‘Segaetsho’ project is the first artist led Setswana Reference popup Library. The mobile mini library aims to challenge and question the use of the urban landscape and create a space to promote Setswana language under the campaign #segaetsho.
The colourful human-sized cube aims to provide access to a range of books and resources to new library users and those who haven’t had access to existing libraries services. ‘Segaetsho’ is a communal space for making personal connections that keep culture alive, a site for celebration, dialogue, exchange and education.