An Online Exhibition by South African Artist Vanessa Tembane

Vanessa Tembane, Meninas na praia (Little girls at the beach)

Vanessa TembaneThis exhibition offers a personal exploration of identity and memory through the medium of collage, photography, and textiles. Tembane is a South African artist of Mozambican heritage. Her mother migrated from Mozambique to South Africa, where Tembane grew up as an isiZulu speaker, not learning Chopi, her mother’s native language. Always feeling distanced from her Mozambican family despite occasional visits, Tembane felt fully at home in neither place. She creates memories of home through her artworks, which adapt and alter family photographs and capulanas, Mozambican cloths used to carry babies.

As Tembane describes:
“My collages allow me to merge my photographs that were taken in South Africa with those of my Mozambican relatives to create strange, hybridized compositions. The collages combine photographic cut-outs with details of swathes of fabric—capulanas—that were given to me by my grandmother and aunts. My collages become a means of telling stories about my origins and what is in some sense an alternative ‘home’ culture. While my mother’s past was not my own, the photographs from her home community enable me to almost feel as if I have experienced my mother’s sense of loss of her place of birth and the markers of her Chopi identity.”

While specific to her own family story, Tembane’s search for home, family, and memories is a universal one. Everywhere people leave home, lose family members, or feel dislocation—these are all motivations for a search to find, or create, a new sense of belonging and wholeness.

Tembane received her MFA from the University of Johannesburg in 2019. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions, and her work has been collected by the Rand Merchant Bank and the Art Bank. She is the recipient of an Ampersand Fellowship.

Please visit a second exhibition of African photographic work at Carolina: the Department of Art and Art History’s Allcott Gallery presents Abraham O. Oghobase, Land/Min(e)dscapes (Oct 1-31, 2021) (https://art.unc.edu/)

To open the images below in a slide show, please click an image. On some devices, you may need to double click. You will then be able to scroll through the images using the side arrows.”

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