The fabric.


The fabric is folded.

The fabric is bound with thread.


Run your fingers on the thread.

Beyond the knots lie the end of the thread.


Pull on the end of the thread to untie.

Pull on the corners of the fabric.


begin to unfurl.


The act of dismantling dominant socially constructed ideas of who we are is often seen as forceful, like breaking down an imposing wall or taking apart a large machine, piece by piece.


Rather than seeing dominant notions of culture and identity as walls or machines to be broken down or taken apart, the artists see these complex social subjects as something more subtle, more delicate and more engrossing – fabric.


This complex social fabric is stitched together in some places and tied in others. Its surface is coarse and creased in some areas whilst smooth and ironed in others. It is at times soft, warm and inviting and at times rough, cold and uncomfortable.


This fabric folds over itself, and is seemingly fastened tightly with threads, tied together into tight knots.


In the place of a hammer and chisel, used to break walls, or a screwdriver, used to dismantle machines, the artists have themselves.


Rather than break down, they untie.

Rather than dismantle, they unfurl.


An Unfurling kicks off the 2020 exhibition calendar as the first of three exhibitions in a new season of the KZNSA Young Artist Project (YAP). The exhibition is curated by Greer Valley with Luyanda Zindela and Rohini Amratlal shadowing Valley as part of the YAP curator internship programme.



Minenhle Nxele’s work challenges the representation of identity in the visual arts, using objects as a tool to study the idea of selfhood.

Yasmien Mackay explores themes around the female experience in patriarchal societies, oppression and other related socio-political issues.

Cheriese Dilrajh engages with intergenerational, inherited and created knowledges, and the distortion and formation of identity through personalized narratives that are a becoming of history.

Vanessa Tembane is inspired by her mother’s narratives and explores how they have influenced her identity and sense of belonging

Imagine that you are writing an article for publication in a newspaper. You have been to the KZNSA Gallery and you are writing about one of the artworks you have seen. Write a critique in which you describe the painting, interpret it, and evaluate it.



Make a list of all the things you see, for example: is it a painting or sculpture or other | what or who is the subject | the background of the picture | other objects that appear | how large or small the artwork is | the style in which the artist has worked



Go through the points listed when describing your image, and consider what each point could mean. For example, what could the objects within the frame symbolize or stand for? What can you determine about historical and cultural context, about the artist’s interests and abilities?



In your opinion, is the piece a good work of art? What makes it so – technical skill or a strong concept? Describe what you think makes the artwork successful or not.


Look at Minenhle Nxele’s object portraits and imagine creating your own object self-portrait. How would you define your identity?

To begin, choose any of the identities that could finish the sentence “I am a _____________.”

learner | son/daughter | sister/brother | pet-owner | athlete artist

Are there other identities that are a part of who you are, but aren’t listed above?


Next, complete this sentence:

I am a future_____________(career) from_____________(city or province) and my family is from ___________________ (heritage).


Now, think of objects that are related to your answers above. Pick your top five identities and brainstorm objects that are relevant to them, using prompts like wears, uses, makes and seems like to help

Example: Student

I am a student. A student wears a school uniform, uses pencils and workbooks, seems like a blank book ready for words.


Create a composition with the objects you have chosen and photograph it to create your very own object portrait!



Minenhle Nxele, Yasmien Mackay, Cheriese Dilrajh, Vanessa Thembane

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