Thabiso Sekgala / Running / 2014

About

Because I always feel like running, not away, because there is no such place
Because, if there was I would have found it by now
Because it’s easier to run, easier than staying and finding out
you’re the only one who didn’t run.
Because running will be the way your life and mine will be described,
As “in the long run” or as in having given someone a “run for his money”
Or as in “running out of time”
Because running makes me look like everyone else;
though I hope there will never be cause for that
Because I will be running in the other direction, not running for cover
Because if I knew where cover was, I would stay there and never have to run for it
Not running for my life, because I have to be running for something
of more value to be running and not in fear.
Because the thing I fear cannot be escaped, eluded, avoided, hidden from,
protected from, gotten away from,
Not without showing the fear as I see it now
Because closer, clearer, no sir, nearer
Because of you and because of that nice that you quietly, quickly be causing
And because you´re going to see me run soon and because you´re going to know
why I´m running then,
You will know then, because I´m not going to tell you now.

– Running, Gil Scott-Heron

In his first solo show with the Goodman Gallery, Thabiso Sekgala presents Running, a photographic exhibition bringing together three series: Running Amman, Running Bulawayo and Paradise. Although shot in highly disparate places – the cities of Amman, Bulawayo and Berlin – all three series are viewed by Sekgala as part of a similar trajectory of movement, displacement, transition; each photograph displaying a veneer of calm, that may or may not be on the verge of catastrophe. Considering both the notion of running towards and away from, Sekgala confronts perceptions surrounding place, influenced by sentiments such as aspiration and assumption, and ultimately destabilises these. Produced while Sekgala was on various international residencies, this is the first time these works are being exhibited in South Africa.

Running Amman was photographed in a city built around an old Palestinian refugee camp, which for Sekgala, “defines the idea of running… I was interested in the calmness, and the stillness of the place. I photographed these images during the period when America was still threatening to attack Syria, in my mind I was thinking if that could happen while I was in Jordan ‘will I have a place to run to’… In my work I am fascinated by conditions that define people’s home, that could be personal or political or economic.” Within the series Sekgala focusses on parked cars, influenced by Walid Raad’s series on car bombings during the Lebanese Civil war. These, as well as images of quiet streets, void landscapes and lone pedestrians may suggest the calm before a storm, or nothing at all.

Running Bulawayo, a bit closer to home, takes into account a shared history between Zimbabwe and South Africa, and the strange relationship the two countries currently share. Bulawayo was founded by the people led by Zulu Chief Mzilikazi, who left Zululand in the early 19th Century and settled in what came to be known as Matebeleland. Two centuries later, there is an inversion of migration, with millions of Zimbabweans fleeing to South Africa. “The town has become what I would call a ghost town,” explains Sekgala, “because most Zimbabweans live between Bulawayo and Johannesburg. There are over 4 million Zimbabweans living in South Africa.” In a series of images that depict dusty streets, seemingly abandoned mannequins, solemn backyards and dreary shopping centre interiors, Sekgala intimates a forgotten place.

In Paradise, Sekgala confronts the notion of the the West as a place that many want to run to – a perceived paradise. “Here,” Simon Njami writes in his essay ‘Heaven can Wait’, “the light is gray and pale. It gives the feeling of a dying world facing its twilight. And even though there is one scene, in a park, in which we see two children running and smiling, one wearing a T-shirt where the word ‘love’ is apparent, and in the background, most of the images convey a certain feeling of sadness and despair. An homage to a lost young girl; small displays of oranges and plastic watering cans; public transportation showing the solitude and harshness of our modern times; old and lonely people… empty bars, terraces… everything seems to be photographed in order to reveal a contemporary misery. We are, as some billboards and inscriptions reveal, in Germany, the richest European country. And paradise is always associated with wealth, abundance, and eternal joy. What is depicted in these images through the South African photographer’s gaze, however, is a portrait that fully contradicts these common preconceptions.”

Njami goes on to explain that “being an African certainly plays a critical role in Sekgala’s perception, which he charges with irony. Photography being a way of writing stories, and a language in itself, we are aware of the fact that there is a hidden message behind any image. Sekgala’s take on the debate about developed and underdeveloped countries becomes clear when we realise that he is playing on the reversed gaze repertoire. He openly admits that, coming from Africa, there is nothing that he can expect from Europe but magnificence, beauty, and harmony. One would expect a poor African discovering Western magnificence to be overwhelmed by all those things that he is supposed to be missing back home. But here we are, confronted with a reality that has nothing to do with our expectations.” In this interpretation of Sekgala’s modus operandi, Njami encapsulates the photographer’s ability to morph perception, making us question what we run away from, and what we run towards.

  • Paradise 1 (Love, near Tegel Airport, Berlin)

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Paradise 1 (Love, near Tegel Airport, Berlin), 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on fiber paper / Inkjet print on fiber paper

    50 x 5...

  • Paradise 2 (We people who are darker than blue)

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Paradise 2 (We people who are darker than blue), 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on fibre paper

    50 x 50 cm

    Edition of 7

    ...
  • Paradise 3 (Untitled)

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Paradise 3 (Untitled), 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on fiber paper

    50 x 50 cm

    Edition of 7

  • Paradise 4 (Crossing, wedding, Berlin)

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Paradise 4 (Crossing, wedding, Berlin), 2014

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on fibre paper

    50 x 50 cm

    Edition of 7

  • Paradise 5 (Feeling grey, Afrikanische Street, Berlin)

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Paradise 5 (Feeling grey, Afrikanische Street, Berlin), 2014

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on fibre paper

    50 x 50 cm

    Edition o...

  • Paradise 6 (Slaughter on 10th Avenue, near Taskim Square)

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Paradise 6 (Slaughter on 10th Avenue, near Taskim Square), 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on fibre paper

    70 x 70 cm

    Editio...

  • Paradise 7 (Graveyard, Berlin)

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Paradise 7 (Graveyard, Berlin), 2013

    Color photograph on fibre paper / Dibond-mounted inkjet print on fibre paper

    70 x 70 cm

  • Paradise 8 (Darker than blue)

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Paradise 8 (Darker than blue), 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fibre paper

    70 x 70 cm

    Edition of 7

  • Paradise 9 (A home, Afrikanische Street)

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Paradise 9 (A home, Afrikanische Street), 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fibre paper

    70 x 70 cm

    Edition of 7

  • Paradise 10 (Untitled)

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Paradise 10 (Untitled), 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fibre paper

    70 x 70 cm

    Edition of 7

  • Paradise 11 (Untitled)

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Paradise 11 (Untitled), 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fibre paper

    70 x 70 cm

    Edition of 7

  • Paradise 12 (A paradise, near Tegel airport)

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Paradise 12 (A paradise, near Tegel airport), 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fibre paper

    70 x 70 cm

    Edition of...

  • Hanging clothes, Jabal Hussein

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Hanging clothes, Jabal Hussein, 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fibre paper

    50 x 50 cm

    Edition of 7

  • Passage, Windat

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Passage, Windat, 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fibre paper

    50 x 50 cm

    Edition of 7

  • Leftovers, Jabal Hussein, Amman

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Leftovers, Jabal Hussein, Amman, 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fibre paper

    50 x 50 cm

    Edition of 7

  • Sealed, Jamal Webdin, Amman

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Sealed, Jamal Webdin, Amman, 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fiber paper

    50 x 50 cm

    Edition of 7

  • Traces2, Jamal Webdin, Amman

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Traces2, Jamal Webdin, Amman, 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fiber paper / Photograph on fibre paper

    50 x 50 cm / 50 ...

  • Al-Zuhoor hilltop, Amman

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Al-Zuhoor hilltop, Amman, 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fibre paper

    70 x 70 cm

    Edition of 7

  • Exercise, Windat, Amman

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Exercise, Windat, Amman, 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fibre paper / Photograph on fibre paper

    70 x 70 cm / 70 x 70c...

  • Lady in Red, Mara Camp, Amman

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Lady in Red, Mara Camp, Amman, 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fibre paper

    70 x 70 cm

    Edition of 7

  • Church, Jabal Webdin, Amman

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Church, Jabal Webdin, Amman, 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet prin on archival fibre paper

    70 x 70 cm

    Edition of 7

  • Graveyard, Jabal El Hussein

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Graveyard, Jabal El Hussein, 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fibre paper

    70 x 70 cm

    Edition of 7

  • Traces, Jabal Webdin

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Traces, Jabal Webdin, 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fibre paper

    70 x 70 cm

    Edition of 7

  • Untitled, Windat, Amman

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Untitled, Windat, Amman, 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fibre paper

    70 x 70 cm

    Edition of 7

  • Feeding stray cats, Jabal el Hussein

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Feeding stray cats, Jabal el Hussein, 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fibre paper

    70 x 70 cm

    Edition of 7

    <...
  • The Terrace Hotel, Bulawayo

    Thabiso Sekgala

    The Terrace Hotel, Bulawayo, 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fibre paper

    70 x 70 cm

    Edition of 7

  • Haddon and Sly (former glory), Bulawayo

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Haddon and Sly (former glory), Bulawayo, 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fibre paper

    70 x 70 cm

    Edition of 7

  • Inside Bulawayo Mall

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Inside Bulawayo Mall, 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fibre paper

    70 x 70 cm

    Edition of 7

  • Kwa Tsholotsho, Bulawayo

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Kwa Tsholotsho, Bulawayo, 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fibre paper

    70 x 70 cm

    Edition of 7

  • Gokitima KgoPhala kekgo sepela, Bulawayo

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Gokitima KgoPhala kekgo sepela, Bulawayo, 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fibre paper

    70 x 70 cm

    Edition of 7

  • Back at home, Bulawayo

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Back at home, Bulawayo, 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fibre paper

    70 x 70 cm

    Edition of 7

  • Unity Village, 6th Street, Bulawayo

    Thabiso Sekgala

    Unity Village, 6th Street, Bulawayo, 2013

    Dibond-mounted inkjet print on archival fibre paper

    70x 70 cm

    Edition of 7

    ...

  • Installation picture [Thabiso Sekgala / Running / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Thabiso Sekgala / Running / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Thabiso Sekgala / Running / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Thabiso Sekgala / Running / 2014]
  • Installation picture [Thabiso Sekgala / Running / 2014]