Tshedimoso Phetlhe

Artist Catalogue

Virtual Exhibition

Why Would You Say That?

The work is centered around having a dissonance between my actions and who I think of myself as. Given the pervasive anti-black, racist society that we are living in, it can be easy to default to the pervasiveness of this racist sentiment, and have it show up in myself in times where I am absent-minded. The body of work revolves around the impact that history has had on me. It reckons with a history that I was not there for that is very much my own.

Some time ago I caught myself having a prejudiced perception of this person that I had barely met. I had interacted with them based on this assumption I had of them, and when I suddenly realized why I was behaving off-center in this moment, I realized that it was only as a result of having defaulted to a way of viewing the world that I have been victim of as well.

This reflection has manifested itself in a multitude of ways – speaking to the difficulty in speaking to this sensation through the use of only one visual language. The use of sound allows me to pointedly discuss this with a black community. It is so due to the use of Sesotho - my mother tongue. The language allows me to speak to members of my community, thus repelling the white gaze, while including a black majority. The sound is an audio of me telling a story that shows me behaving at a dissonance with myself. It thus juxtaposes wanting to be a part of a community while behaving in ways that are in contradiction to that.

A visual depiction of where I would have this conversation is shown with images taken on film of my sibling and I. Another link is drawn to the past in the form of found imagery that stems from before my time. It is within these images that I have cut out the white person, thus excluding in a similar way to the audio. The dominance of the white person in these images speaks to the pervasiveness of whiteness everywhere. In removing the white person from these images, I am reclaiming the images as well as speaking to a want to change the history that these images depict, a history that has left me with this contemporary.

In using objects such as the photographs that are not mine, I am speaking directly to the feeling of handling what is not mine. When I act in ways that I do not feel align with myself, it feels as though I am unable to recognize myself. It feels as though I am playing with sentiment that is not mine. This inability to recognize myself is further investigated through the use of shadow, as well as in the use of self-portraiture.