Nicholas Hlobo: Inyoka Yobhedu at CCA, Tel Aviv (Photo Story)
06.11.2021 – 01.01.2022
Images courtesy of CCA Tel Aviv. Photos by Eyal Agivayev.
Grounded in the layered context of South Africa and the notion of identity, the work of Nicolas hlobo (* 1975, Cape Town, South Africa; lives and works in Johannesburg) deals with issues of gender, sexuality, spirituality and ethnicity. His works range from works on canvas and paper to sculptures and performances, and employ found objects and materials such as leather, rubber, ribbons, bronze and copper. Copper – a natural conductor of electricity – is considered by the artist as a “conduit” between different states of being.
On the occasion of his solo exhibition at CCA Tel Aviv, his first solo presentation in Israel, Hlobo presents Inyoka Yobhedu, a site-specific installation composed of copper pipes interwoven with bronze serpent heads and inspired by Nehushtan [נְחֻשְׁתָּן]. First described in the Register, Nehushtan was a bronze serpent on a pole, which Moses created at the command of God so that the Israelites could contemplate it and heal from the bites of the snakes, previously sent to punish them for speaking against God and Moses.
Hlobo titles his works in his mother tongue, isiXhosa and not English, which is more dominant in the field of art. Such a decision generates an intermediate space, where things get lost in translation – fertile ground for countless occurrences and possibilities that allow the imaginative, the intangible, the dreaming, the emotional and the intuitive to come together. reveal outside the ordered structure of Langue.
Since its introduction to Christianity, the Xhosa people have experienced being in between two spiritual practices – the ancestral tradition of the Xhosa and Christianity. In this context, Inyoka Yobhedu could suggest a connection between the liminal condition of the Xhosa people and that of the Israelites at the time of the Exodus. In addition, the story of the Israelites, their deliverance from slavery and the journey back to a promised land evokes South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy, the collective historical trauma of the two nations and the complex relationship between Israel and South Africa.
Present in many religions, the serpent has a controversial presence: on the one hand, it represents the devil, temptation and deception; on the other hand, it is associated with healing powers and, due to its phallic form, with sexuality and androgyny. In the Xhosa tradition, the serpent appears in the uMajola totem, much revered and whose role is to visit the homes of newborns, bringing good fortune and luck.
Inyoka Yobhedu seems to exist at the crossroads of different cultures and identities, an object capable of transforming dialectical forces into energy of rebirth and transformation, asking the viewer to play an active role while being in the space and experiencing it. In line with Hlobo’s works – which always preserve the spirit of the creative act and trigger tactile sensations – Inyoka Yobhedu requires direct engagement. Its copper tubes spreading in space materialize immeasurable and timeless flows of energetic and spiritual forces.
“Nicholas Hlobo: Inyoka Yobhedu” is curated by Tamar Dresdner. The exhibition is supported by Wendy Fisher and the Kirsh Foundation and by galleries representing the artist – Lehmann Maupin, New York / Hong Kong / Seoul / London and Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg / Cape Town / London; additional support is provided by Ekard Collection, Chami and Lazar Fruchter, and Carmel and Eran Ilan; the hospitality offered by Contemporary art starting fund.
Image: “Nicolas Hlobo: Inyoka Yobhedu”, 2021. View of the exhibition at CCA Tel Aviv (detail). Photo: Eyal Agivayev
Nicholas Hlobo: Inyoka Yobhedu with Tamar Dresdner (Hebrew)