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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

WONDERLAND (article first published : 2008-09-9)

Wonderland, the commissioned exhibition by Standard Bank Young Artist 2008 Nontsikelelo Veleko, is currently travelling around South Africa.

This internationally acclaimed artist’s extraordinary journey in photography started from an interest in exploring identity. Earlier, ongoing projects include The One’s on Top Won’t Make it Stop!, in which she directs her lens at public space through the documentation of graffiti, whereas www.notblackenough.lolo profiles prejudice and reductive stereotyping. Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder! is an ongoing celebration of the South African ‘Born Free’ generation and their expression of identity through dress and fashion.

Veleko is currently stationed in Wonderland, which she describes as “a step further in investigating the social and emotional states of my surroundings – South Africa is my place of departure, by experience and location, but conceptually I am interested in the discovery of the world”. On show will be new work, and whilst Wonderland contains thematic strands explored in previous bodies of work, for the first time these are displayed without distinction, creating a maze of images. She has produced a visual joyride through an idiosyncratic world full of surprises and contradictions.

However, Veleko’s work is not confined to surface and narrow definitions of beauty. Tumelo Mosaka, South African curator and critic based in New York states that, “Veleko’s images not only provoke analysis of the ways in which we define ourselves as individuals and as communities, but also more importantly critique the modes of representation which have defined how we consume images”.

Veleko recently participated in landmark exhibitions such as Snap Judgments: Positions in Contemporary African Photography at the International Center of Photography in New York in 2006, Flow at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York in 2008, and the seminal travelling exhibition Apartheid: The South African Mirror, which originated at the Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona in 2007. Her work is represented in the collections of the International Centre of Photography in New York, the Brancolini Grimaldi Arte Contemporanea in Rome, Italy and the Johannesburg Art Gallery, amongst others.

Wonderland by Nontsikelelo Veleko is travelling throughout South Africa and will reach Durban later this year where it will be seen at the Durban Art Gallery from November 20 to January 18, 2009.




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