Sikhuselo Sembumbulu. 2012.
Terra Nullius. 2012
Full Belly. 72”x90”, 72”x108”, 84”x120”, 96”x84”. 2011
Satisfaction of Sensation. 96”x96”, 72”x90”, 108”x72”, 96”x144”. 2011
Good Boy. 96”x144”, 96”x144". 2011
Adornment. 8 panels (34”x40” each). 2011
Meleko Mokgosi (b. Francistown, Botswana) is an artist who works within an interdisciplinary framework to create large-scale project-based installations. By working with figurative (history) painting, cinematic tropes, psychoanalysis, and post-colonial theory, his practice interrogates the specificity of regionalism in order to address questions of nationhood, colonial and anti- colonial sentiments, and the perception of historicized events. He is especially interested in how Lacanian psychoanalytic theory and semiotics can be used to comprehend national identification and occurrences such as the 2008 xenophobic attacks in South Africa. Being educated mostly in Botswana, Mokgosi came to the United States in 2003 to pursue tertiary education in the Arts. Following his scholarship at Williams College, MA and the Slade School of Fine Arts, he attended the Whitney Independent Study Program in 2007. Thereafter, he studied under the mentorship of Mary Kelly at the UCLA Interdisciplinary Studio Practice program. He lives and works between the US and Botswana.
Meleko Mokgosi uses painting to interrogate the very concerns that inform its death drive: the limits of representation, the politics of abstraction, and the mode of viewing enabled by rectangular canvases on a gallery wall. The artist’s technical acuity delivers a kind of critical visuality, asking viewers to draw out affinities between experiencing and interpreting. Pax Kaffraria: Sikhuselo Sembumbulu (2012) addresses the question of nationalism in relation to globalization and resistance. The work meditates on sikhuselo sembumbulu, a Xhosa term meaning “bulletproof.” This is a reference to the Xhosa cattle killings of 1856–57, which were intended to drive away colonial powers and simultaneously resurrect ancestors. The series of works frames the historic event and considers a legacy of resistance that continues today—namely, the persistent drive to become bulletproof. At the same time this history is represented as only partially available to viewers, suggesting the difficulty of cultural translation.
- Malik Gaines