ROSEGALLERY (2525 Michigan Ave B-7, Santa Monica, CA 90404) presents the exhibition: What Are You Leaving Behind? by visual artist Lebohang Kganye. Kganye, who was recently selected to represent South Africa in the 2022 Venice Biennale, often incorporates the archival and performative into a practice that centers storytelling and memory as it plays itself out in the familial experience.
Her work explores an archive that is concerned with layered and temporal storytelling. The pieces in the show span eight years of Kganye’s career, weaving together three seminal series: Her Story (2013), Reconstruction of a Family (2016), and Tell Tale (2018). In What Are You Leaving Behind? viewers are invited to follow the artist’s conceptual journey as she ruminates on the relationship between history and orature, and memory and fantasy throughout nearly a decade of work.
Her series Ke Lefa Laka (Her-Story) stems from confronting grief from the loss of her mother, while maintaining a connection to her and generational history. The title translates to “it’s my legacy” in seSotho.
Kganye explains: “Like Barthes looking at the photo of his mother, we look at the person and see the trajectory of their life. The fact that no matter how alive they look, the photograph points to all of our mortalities. The essence of my mother that I identify in these photographs is, in fact, my essence, my constructions, my memories and fantasies of this person who I met in only one capacity: namely, mother.”
In Reconstruction of a Family, Kganye documents her personal history and straddles generations of her mother’s family. It also resonates the history of South Africa, in that the artist’s family was uprooted and resettled because of the Land Act (and its various amendments) and other apartheid laws. These stories reflect her family moving from place to place during the apartheid era and finding refuge in different spaces around the country, and then creating temporary homes in those spaces. And finally, the series Tell Tale confronts the conflicting stories, which are told in multiple ways, even by the same person – a combination of memory and fantasy.
The work does not attest to being a documentation of a people but presents their personal narratives, which they share over a cup of tea, homemade ginger ale or the locally brewed beer. These prized possessions hearken back to a particular time but are also vehicles to a fantasy that allows for a momentary space to ‘perform’ ideals of community. Fictive narratives depend on oral histories, genealogist Kimberley Powell states, “Oral histories are stories told by living people about the past. Generally, these are stories of their own life and the life’s of the people around them. Often an oral history includes details and stories that exist nowhere other than in the individual’s mind.”
About Lebohang Kganye
Lebohang Kganye was born in 1990 in Johannesburg, South Africa, where she currently lives and works. Kganye’s practice often incorporates the archival and performative into a practice that centers storytelling and memory as it plays itself out in the familial experience.
Her interest in the materiality of photography is ongoing and explored in a myriad of ways, through her use of the sculptural, performative and the moving image.
Founded in 1992 by Rose Shoshana, ROSEGALLERY is an internationally recognized contemporary art gallery located in the renowned Bergamot Station Arts Center in Santa Monica, California. The gallery is a leading consultant to distinguished collections, art museums and academic institutions. The gallery is committed to supporting and collaborating with well-established and emerging artists in the long-term conceptualization and presentation of their works.
In recent years, the programming has expanded to encompass artists specializing in alternate mediums, including design, bookmaking and sculptural objects.