Lebohang Kganye

South Africa (1990)
Biennale Images Vevey
Ke sale teng

Lebohang Kganye is part of the new generation of post-apartheid artists. Her work explores the notions of memory and identity via her own collection of photographs. Her Ke sale teng series comprises an animation film and five dioramas, where silhouettes of her family have been cut out as for shadow puppetry. They come to life to tell the story of the everyday reality of a generation the artist hardly knew. In general, family photo albums are a series of snapshots that have been chosen and arranged to construct a partial narrative that will always be incomplete. According to this South African artist, these images go beyond a simple testimony of past events: They are a medium for projecting our own memories and those passed on to us, and also a space for reinventing our own story.

Grand Prix Images Vevey
Staging Memories

In recognition of its visual inventiveness, historical rigor, and daring conceptualization, the jury was pleased to unanimously select Lebohang Kganye’s Staging Memories project as the winner of the Grand Prix Images Vevey.

Jury Statement

“Staging Memories is a particular development in Lebohang Kganye’s new series entitled In Search for Memory begun in 2020. In this series Kganye proposes to “offer a response to the fictional novella by Malawian writer Muhti Nhlema titled TA O’REVA, seeking so to interrogate the human need to retain and recall shared narratives and exploring the contradictions and fictions therein”. For the first public iteration of Staging Memories, Lebohang will conceive for Images Vevey in September 2022 a large-scale three-dimensional installation exploring the materiality of photography in dialogue with the disciplines of theatre and literature.

Lebohang Kganye’s project applies an intriguing and resonant approach to the ways personal and familial experiences intersect with wider societal realities. She employs archival photographic imagery, much of it derived from family albums, and moves that material across a seamless series of genres: photography, collage, installation, and set design. Born in South Africa and based in Johannesburg, Kganye has a practice deeply informed by the concerns and techniques of master artists from South Africa like William Kentridge, David Goldblatt, Sam Nhlengethwa, and Zanele Muholi. But she is very much working in her own unique voice, which melds the fantastical, the political, and the intimate in strong and exciting ways.

Staging Memories is rooted in specific post-Apartheid realities, but it calls out with a clear voice across the world, confirming once again that history is always local as well as global. In Lebohang Kganye’s capable and fearless hands, we are given an opportunity to encounter the world in new frames: playful and dark, accessible and challenging, steadily mournful and indomitably hopeful”.

Biennale Images Vevey
Staging Memories

South-African artist Lebohang Kganye, Laureate of the Grand Prix Images Vevey 2021/2022 for her project Staging Memories, places cut-out characters amid improvised settings, somewhat like how pop-up books unfold and close again. Blending photography, theatre and literature, her artwork presents free interpretations of the novella Ta O’Reva by Malawian writer Muthi Nhlema. This tale relates Nelson Mandela’s return to a post-apocalyptic South Africa.

Lebohang Kganye enters the very heart of these sketches and revisits the past, marked by apartheid. Staging Memories presents the impact of the bigger picture on the small personal family one and suggests contemplation of the way we construct and describe our memories.

Nathalie Herschdorfer, Director of Photo Elysée, and Stefano Stoll, Director of Images Vevey welcome eight artists of the arts biennale Images Vevey 2022 including the artist Lebohang Kganye for a series of CONVERSATIONS. The shooting took place at the Hôtel des Trois Couronnes.