Arts + Culture
Nicholas Hlobo, umBhovuzo: The Parable of the Sower, 2017, Performa 17. Commission. Photo © Paula Court.

In Conversation with South African Artist Nicholas Hlobo on How Detached We've Become From Our Histories

OkayAfrica catches up with the South African artist to learn the creative process behind his performance, umBhovuzo: The Parable of the Sower.

As I sat in the lofty space at Harlem Parish, where South African artist Nicholas Hlobo presented his latest work, umBhovuzo: The Parable of the Sower, I couldn't help but think of the 26 Nigerian girls, mostly aged 14 to 18, who drowned off the coast of Italy in November. A mass funeral was held in Salerno, Italy, the day before the performance, after their bodies were recovered from the Mediterranean Sea. The nine performers in Hlobo's work looked like their angels: all wore pristine, white cotton robes, and rings of light hung overhead like halos.

Hlobo created Parable of the Sower to reveal how detached we've become from our histories, and yet how powerfully our past thrusts us forward. Like the 26 girls whose dinghy capsized en route to a more optimistic future, his performers—some of whom labor on sewing machines for the entire performance—are working against time. They are trying to construct a new sense of self using contexts and materials formed by the past.

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Arts + Culture
Photo courtesy of Performa and The Nest Collective.

Performa 17: The Nest Collective Explores Afrofuturism, Black Silence & Protest in Film

The Kenyan collective's short film program at Performa 17 is an emphasis on the strength of black presence.

"White people love Afrofuturism," says artist Patricia Kihoro, as she throws extension cords on top of her head in The Nest Collective's new short film, We Need Prayers: This One Went to Market.

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'Unraveled Threads': Ghanaian Artist Zohra Opoku's Latest Work Focuses On Kente & Identity

Zohra Opoku reclaims her family’s narrative in her collection of screen prints, “Unraveled Threads,” debuting in a solo show at the Armory in NYC this week.