Hamblin and Matena Challenge Social Injustice in Two New Bodies of Work

Lizamore & Associates is presenting two new solo exhibitions; InterseXion by Robert A. Hamblin and Us and Them by Lekau Matsena. Both bodies of work by Hamblin and Matsena advertently comment on social and political issues that are intertwined in society.

InterseXion is centred within Hamblin’s photographic images, voice and video installations pertaining to sex work in South Africa, in particular, work with feminine identified transgender people. In the height of many debates surrounding sex work, South African Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa says: “Whatever views individuals may hold about sex work, whatever the statutes may say about the legality of sex work, we cannot deny the humanity and inalienable rights of people who engage in sex work.” Following this line of thought, Hamblin seeks to encourage viewers to engage with transgender sex work, poverty and social injustice. The imagery offers a playful interaction between subject and the viewer whilst voice and video works, unveil some of the complexities surrounding sex work in South Africa.

“To survive living on the streets of Cape Town, you just need to give them that theatre moment…. It’s about the look... A transwoman who looks like me, with drowsy eyes, like any other beautiful woman…. it becomes financially viable.” - Leigh Davids, sex worker and activist.

To engage with the subject from multiple perspectives Hamblin pertinently inserts himself into some of the works, invoking the representation of a sex work client. Presenting the intersection of gender, sex and class this way (from the perspective of trans people) also acts as a lens to consider the power consequences of how bodies present in society. “The blurry, unrealistic, mostly decontextualized images are intentional. My work method reflects a mandated representation of these trans bodies, challenging popular notions of the representation of gender, sex work and disenfranchised people,” says Robert A. Hamblin.

Lekau Matsena’s debut solo exhibition, Us and Them, consists of the artist’s mixed media artworks which comment on ideological structures built into society. In this body of work, Matsena unravels, questions and challenges the uncomfortable space of political, social and racial divisions created by politics and the media in South Africa. Matsena carefully attempts to visually communicate the behaviours and actions different people express towards the “other”. Through these artworks, Matsena reveals the injustice of politics and thinking which create the division between “us and them”. 

Matsena’s narration stems from his experiences as a black man and an artist who lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa. “I didn’t choose to be born black or poor and landless. But the world subjected me that way. I didn’t choose to get an inferior education. The ‘us and them’ is a psychological weapon used by those in power to rule and derail us and unfortunately, we are playing along to their music…” he explains. Matsena simultaneously challenges the preconceived notions, which powerful voices convey to the public and the problematic interactions individuals have with the so-called “other”. He pieces together a re-telling and reclamation of current ‘moments’ within South Africa offering the viewer a knowledgeable and versatile re-writing of history from a different perspective.

These exhibitions open on 29 June 2017 at 18:00 and ends on 22 July 2017 at the Lizamore & Associates gallery.

When: 29 June - 22 July
Where: 155 Jan Smuts Ave, Parkwood
Contact: 011 880 8802 or INFO@LIZAMORE.CO.ZA