Recently retired Constitutional Court judge, Justice Edwin Cameron, will be a guest speaker at the simultaneous opening of the Simon Nkoli – Black Queer Visibility: Finding Simon and the Banele Khoza- Seeking Love Exhibition.

The Stellenbosch University (SU) Museum in partnership with Alliance Française in Stellenbosch, the Equality Unit (at the Centre for Student Counselling and Development, Division Student Affairs) and the Simon Nkoli Collective (SNC) is hosting this historic occasion at 17:00 at the SU Museum in Ryneveld Street in Stellenbosch on Thursday 12 September. This relationship with the memory and legacy of Simon Nkoli is part of the commitment the Equality and Disability Units continues to share since the renaming of 39 Victoria Street to Huis Simon Nkoli House, on World Aids Day, 1 December 2017.

The opening of the two exhibitions coincides with Heritage Month that is celebrated from 1 to 30 September in South Africa.

Justice Cameron is well-known for his HIV/AIDS and gay-rights activism and was hailed by Nelson Mandela as “one of South Africa’s new heroes”. He will be joined by a representative of the SNC at the event.

Also speaking will be Dr Beverley Palesa Ditsie, a lesbian activist, filmmaker and one of the founders of the gay rights organization, Gay and Lesbian Organisation of the Witwatersrand (GLOW) and also the first person to address the United Nations in 1995, highlighting the challenges faced by the LGBT community.   Along with Simon Nkoli, Dr Ditsie organised the first pride parade in South Africa held in 1990.

Banele Khoza exhibition Seeking Love

The SU Museum presents the Seeking Love exhibition by Absa L’Atelier 2017 Gerard Sekoto winner Banele Khoza. The exhibition will be running until 11 October 2019.

After completing a BTech in Fine Art, Khoza became a lecturer in Drawing and Art Theory at his alma mater, while continuing to hone his craft. In September 2017, he won the Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award for his series Note Making and along with it a three-month residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. It served as a springboard for his career and he has headlined a number of exhibitions, including Temporary Feelings at the Pretoria Art Museum in 2016 and Lonely Nights at Lizamore & Associates in Johannesburg in 2017.

In 2017, Khoza represented SMITH gallery at the Cape Town Art Fair, the FNB Joburg Art Fair and the AKAA (Also Known As Africa) Fair in Paris. His first solo exhibition – LOVE?  came in 2018 at SMITH gallery in Cape Town. He also headlined a solo exhibition titled, LGBTQI+: Banele Khoza, as part of the Curatorial Lab at Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town.

Simon Nkoli Exhibition: Black Queer Visibility: Finding Simon

The Simon Nkoli Collective and the Centre for Student Counselling and Development’s Equality Unit will host this exhibition for five months.

“This collaboration emerges out of continuous conversations on the celebration of Nkoli’s political life as it compels us to reflect on the questions of solidarity in deepening inequalities towards social justice,” says Jaco Greeff Brink, Head: Equality Unit.”

The desire to inhabit the past, through Simon’s journey, is a search of Black Queer Visibility. In line with the feminist reading of existence as resistance, we map this existence into the hardness of today with the contradictions of (in)equality. Thus, memory is life, with its colours and sounds while his memory, but it is in dialogue that the direction of future expectations can be negotiated while forcing us to give meaning in the present” according to the SNC.

The project comprises of a series of photographs, awards and a video installation. The Collective over the years has built a relationship with MaNkoli, Simon Nkoli’s mother. She provided the Collective with some unpublished images and awards. Nkoli’s awards is evidence of his political contribution and how he has been celebrated internationally after his arrest at the dawn of our democracy (from 1989). Additional photos where sourced from The Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) and used to locate Nkoli at different points of his life in the township, marches and campaigns as the Delmas Trialist, Gay organiser and HIV campaigner.

Exhibition info:

  • Venue: Stellenbosch University Museum, 52 Ryneveld Street, Stellenbosch
  • Dates: Opening on 12 September at 17:00 and runs until  11 October 2019
  • Contact: Ricky Brecht at rickyb@sun.ac.za or (021) 808 3660

MORE INFORMATION

The Simon Nkoli Collective

The Simon Nkoli Collective is a network of activists that intends to activate the memory and work of Simon Nkoli. The main aim is to create spaces of reflection, shared learning and to document such experiences. The SNC began its work through the Simon Nkoli Memorial Lecture (SNML), an annual celebration of LGBTIQ visibility and resistance.

Background of the Simon Nkoli exhibition

The Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) has an extensive collection of Simon’s life, for many of the SNC, this was the entry point in search of earlier Black queer narratives. Since the establishment of the Simon Nkoli Memorial Lecture, as the Collective, the SNC, brought in conversation young queer or social justice activists with people who have witnessed and worked with Simon. Recently the SNC, began to collect audio interviews as a way to interpret Simon’s political work into the three dominant themes, namely that of anti-Apartheid, HIV/AIDS and LGBTI activism. These critical reflections on Nkoli’s life is a way of bringing the archival material into the public domain but also to extend the GALA collection through contemporary narratives of black queer visibility.

A Kenyan visual artist Kawira Mwiricha founded To Revolutionary Type Love  project through which she uses Kanga (an East African traditional cloth) with bright colours framing each face of an LGBTI activist or patterns, accompanied by a Swahili message to celebrate the queer community. The Simon Nkoli Kanga stands as a centrepiece of the exhibition with its message Haiwezekani, nyeupe na nyeusi pekeeziwe rangi za mpenzi loosely translated as “Black and white are not the colours of love. They never were”. The SNC also approached Zolani Shangase, a performance artist from Pietermaritzburg and the Managing Director of Madevu Entertainment. Shangase like Majola produced a song dedicated to Nkoli titled My Heart. The music video added another contemporary texture to the exhibition. Much of the research and work of the exhibition was carried out by the Collective; however, Zama Phakathi was the curator for the exhibition who worked jointly with Collective to transform the material gathered into artistic expression.

Background to the Banele Khoza exhibition

“This exhibition is an open love letter to whoever is watching or reading my work – also to God/All/The universe. I am confessing that I am ready, and I am letting go of the search,” says Khoza. “Beginning the body of work was a little hard to be honest, especially having created a body of work in 2017-18 that ended up being showcased in institutions that I did not imagine would happen in my lifetime. However, I had to ground myself in everyday practice.”

That meant bringing in Khoza’s muses from the past and newly encountered ones: Lehlonolo Ramathe, Lerato Masters, Francis Buseko and Sandile Mhlongo. They sat for different pieces over a period of fourmonths and became the foundation of his ideas and inspiration.

Seeking Love builds on the impressive portfolio and reputation he has built in his short life. He was born in 1994 in the small town of Hlatikulu in Swaziland (now eSwatini) but moved to South Africa for schooling in 2008. He then enrolled at the London School of Fashion to study for a year in 2011, following which he came back to South Africa to study a National Diploma in Fine Art at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). After completing a BTech in Fine Art, Khoza became a lecturer in Drawing and Art Theory at his alma mater, while continuing to hone his craft. In September 2017, he won the Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award for his series Note Making and along with it a three-month residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris.

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