Bonginkosi Majoka

Artist Catalogue

Virtual Exhibition

Uzifumana usehlathini

Translation: You find yourself on the mountain

Allow me to open with a brief biography. I was born in Uitenhage, Eastern Cape in a predominantly Xhosa community. My early life is marked with a heavy cultural presence. Being around close friends and family of similar ethnic origins, built the foundation of my identity. The idea of community and identity being interlinked through culture and history. Or rather the influence of culture and community upon one’s own sense of identity. Something I further explore in my final year work. After some years I relocated to Pretoria, Gauteng. The most noticeable distinction between the two environments was the cultural differences: the diverse cultures and identities interacting within a neutral space. However, much of Pretoria’s cultural norms and heritage are still rooted in the legacy of apartheid and colonialism. Hence, being a young black male, out of his cultural depths, experiencing life in an indistinct and undefined state of identity. That isn’t to say I wasn’t an individual, although I believe that we all have a true self rooted in culture.  As I reflect upon it now, I understand that experience to be the central point of my discussion. Understanding how culture and identity are able to engage with each other.

As I have grew up, I had my first cultural encounter, not as a spectator but as the subject. Ulwaluko, The ritual of initiation. To briefly explain, the ritual is a process of leaving behind boyhood and being recognized as a man. the process of change is a closely guarded secret, due to the intimate relationship formed between umkhwetha and his past self. I say past self because the ritual is a state of abjection where one is no longer who they once were, however they have no current identity. It is within this liminal space I place my focus for my work. Exploring the state of liminality and identity. The experience is a very personal and private.

My aim was a retrospective project that engages with culture, ritual, and the idea of ‘identity’. Approaching such a ritual as an artistic performance raising question surrounding the historical context and conceptual nature of native cultures in South Africa. Understanding the discourse of the colonial project as a key stone moment in the history of South Africa. My work seeks to interrogate what it means to be of a particular culture in modern South Africa. The inherent lack of identity represents a feeling of ‘blackness’; meant to be symbolic of a ‘in-between-ness’, not yet fully developed self.. My work to speak on the meaning of ‘blackness’, intended to develop an intimate exchange of stories.