Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to EyeContact. You are invited to respond to reviews and contribute to discussion by registering to participate.

JH

Mlangeni in Auckland

AA
View Discussion
Sabelo Mlangeni's Heartbreaker exhibition of hand-printed gelatin prints, as installed at Artspace. Photo: Sam Hartnett Sabelo Mlangeni's Heartbreaker exhibition as installed at Artspace. Photo: Sam Hartnett Sabelo Mlangeni's Heartbreaker exhibition of hand-printed gelatin prints, as installed at Artspace. Photo: Sam Hartnett Salebo Mlangeni's Wedding section, as installed at Artspace. Photo: Sam Hartnett Salebo Mlangeni's Wedding section, as installed at Artspace. Photo: Sam Hartnett Salebo Mlangeni's Wedding section, as installed at Artspace. Photo: Sam Hartnett Salebo Mlangeni's Wedding section, as installed at Artspace. Photo: Sam Hartnett Salebo Mlangeni's Wedding section, as installed at Artspace. Photo: Sam Hartnett Salebo Mlangeni's Country Girls section, as installed at Artspace. Photo: Sam Hartnett Salebo Mlangeni's Country Girls section, as installed at Artspace. Photo: Sam Hartnett Salebo Mlangeni's Country Girls section, as installed at Artspace. Photo: Sam Hartnett Salebo Mlangeni's Garden of Eden section, as installed at Artspace. Photo: Sam Hartnett Salebo Mlangeni's Garden of Eden section, as installed at Artspace. Photo: Sam Hartnett Salebo Mlangeni's Garden of Eden section, as installed at Artspace. Photo: Sam Hartnett Salebo Mlangeni's Garden of Eden section, as installed at Artspace. Photo: Sam Hartnett

We don't often see South African photography in Auckland. The few examples I remember are Roger Ballen at St Paul St, and Pieter Hugo at Te Tuhi. Like Alfredo Jaar's recent show at Trish Clark's, Mlangeni's presentation helps Kiwi art audiences take a greater interest in African history, social themes and current affairs, lessening their infatuation with European and North American content.

Auckland

 

Sabelo Mlangeni
Heartbreaker
(part of Singular Pluralities ∞ Plural Singularities, curated by Misal Adnan Yildiz)

 

1 July - 27 August 2016

Using an unusual arrangement of dividing walls, dark purple paint and vertical mirrors to chop up and reassemble the space, South African photographer Sabelo Mlangeni in this show presents three mini-exhibitions of images: looking at communities of openly gay African men, often in drag; newly married couples (gay and hetero); and a Berlin park popular at night for cruising. With purple being a LGBT signifier (like the rainbow flag), the wall partitions providing privacy and close intimacy, and the mirrors opening up space and mingling/breaking down difference, it is a natty bit of exhibition design, with the three spaces both discrete and discreet.

The Country Girls section, of gay couples and individuals, is the largest, spread along the purple wall: nearly thirty images, many of which dwell on sociability and a community matrix. One is struck by how happy, relaxed and comfortable these guys are. Lots of smiles and laughter. Lots of dresses too. Obviously the photographer is a trusted friend.

With the Wedding section, the majority of the photographed married African couples are straight. The three mirrors are integrated with Mlangeni’s images so that one is left untouched, another has a separated (female) bride and a (male) groom superimposed, and the third has a heterosexual and a homosexual couple both superimposed. Looking at them you literally see yourself looking as well.

With the forested Berlin park, near the zoo in the Tiergarten district, Mlangeni documents in Garden of Eden not people, but traces of human sexual activity - outdoors at night. We see a ripped singlet lying in the leaves, an old mattress and a folded sleeping bag, a used condom on some tree roots, crumpled paper cups and tissues scattered around a stool. A secret world of desiring bodies is recorded for public view via various abandoned objects, but the narratives involve unknown faceless men. Only the skeletal structure of the activity, like performance ‘residue’ that remains after an event, is understood.

Mlangeni‘s imagery is beautifully printed with its dramatic contrasting of shiny dark skin and white matte clothing. Often there is a celebratory mood, with the work formally favouring angles that are not too predictable. We don’t often see South African photography in Auckland. The few examples I remember are Roger Ballen at St Paul St, and Pieter Hugo at Te Tuhi. Like Alfredo Jaar‘s recent show at Trish Clark’s, Mlangeni’s presentation prods Kiwi art audiences into taking a greater interest in African history, social themes and current affairs, lessening the dominance of European and North American art content.

John Hurrell

Print | Facebook | Twitter | Email

 

Recent Posts by John Hurrell

JH

This Year’s Walters Prize

AUCKLAND ART GALLERY TOI O TAMAKI

Auckland

 

Buchanan, Fraser, Johnson & Ward, Solomona Tyrell
The Walters Prize 2018

18 August 2018 - 20 January 2019

JH
Runo Lagomarsino, If you don't know what the south is, it's simply because you are from the north, 2009, stack of posters, 42 x 32.5 cm each. Courtesy the artist, Francisca Minini, Milano, Mendes Wood DN, Sao Paulo and Nils Stark. Photo: Sam Hartnett

Southern Lights

TE TUHI CENTRE FOR THE ARTS

Pakuranga

 

International Group Show 
From Where I Stand, My Eye Will Send A Light To You In The North


12 August - 21 October 2018

JH
Hikalu Clark, Accurate Community Projections, 2018, on the reeves Rd billboards. Commissioned by Te Tuhi Auckland. Photo: Sam Hartnett

Site Specific Hoardings

Te Tuhi billboards on Reeves Rd

Pakuranga

 

Hikalu Clarke
Accurate Community Projections

 

12 August -21 October 2018

JH
Benjamin Work's Write it on the land, Seal it on the heart, 2018, as installed on Te Tuhi's Project Wall. Photo: Sam Hartnett

Work’s Revamped Tongan Coat of Arms

Te Tuhi's Project Wall

Pakuranga

 

Benjamin Work
Write it on the land, Seal it on the heart

 

12 August - 21 October 2018