There has always been an intrepid yet quiet sense of energy in all that Duduza Mchunu makes as an artist, a channel for her own spiritual essence, her means of communicating revelatory symbolism is through the varying mediums that she employs as a multi-disciplinary artist. Duduza’s advocacy for artistic expression as a form of healing and learning is palpably felt in the works she creates. In a distorted world that binarises and mechanises art—it is profound to witness an artist such as Duduza seek inspiration from the spiritual facets of her being first and foremost. When we are moved to inspiration not by intellectual knowledge, but rather, by a desire to attain organic and intuitive wisdom through personal practice; great beauty arises. Beauty that is original in its form, as if it were communicated to us by a higher Universal omnipresence through words unspoken. Using the depth of feeling and of translating one’s own energetic blueprint into the work, exhumes profound possibility that the future of planetary connection is far greater than we can imagine in a limited world of physical density. This is what is signalled at with Duduza’s work. It is a homage to the earth that simultaneously embodies a connection to other worldly frequencies. To be spiritual, is to be grounded and rooted in one’s own understanding of self and the implications of the body, mind and spirit in relation to the world around us. It is possible for us all to connect to our own intuitive wisdom and inner understanding, perhaps this is one of the most powerful acts of liberation that we can take as human beings and I am reminded of this through Duduza’s work.
These are incredibly powerful images, thank you for sharing them with us. What is the symbolism of the juxtaposition between womxn and fire?
Well at first when I was creating this work I had “thought” it was in response to the world and the state in which it is in today. I then realised that she is the mother of all Black children she carries all of our stories with her. Whatever we feel she feels and the fire can be broken down into three parts. Firstly it represents the subjugation, ostracisation and oppression that has been inflicted unto all forms of Black children. The second would be the fire as fuel that lives within us all to keep living, breathing and existing in a world that wishes to take us out. And lastly the third meaning of the fire [speaks to ways we] harms our beings whether it be the anger we hold towards the world which is justified or the internalised hatred we carry about ourselves imposed upon us. However, nobody deserves and should live a life carrying fire in their hearts. It is harmful and it is all consuming for the being to carry such rage.
I know you meditate and commune with Spirit daily, how does your spirituality guide your work?
Spiritual connection to God is a large part of who I am as a person. It allows me to move and express beyond thought. It gives me a different sense of knowledge production and expression that is beyond intellect. It is like being allowed to engage with a boundless, love-filled and timeless certainty. I think an artist experiences this whether knowing it or not but it is allowing oneself to become a vessel and allowing whatever needs to manifest specifically through you to do so without any judgment. Which is [incredibly productive] for me as I am somebody who tends to overthink and worry about whether or not the world will perceive me as intelligent and/or talented enough? All those ridiculous questions you ask yourself in relation to your worth. But I don’t think art and creativity should be attached or connected to self-worth it is a pure form of creative energy and working with spirit aids me with placing myself beyond self-scrutiny.
When you create, is there a constant conversation occurring between you and the Divinity of the Universe?
It is a different type of conversation not one with words, sometimes there are words of course but it is more of being feelingly led. It just somehow takes over. It is something I allow and ask to almost plug into and then for a lack of a better word it just flows. It is a “happening” a very present experience. I have to make the space for the conversation to take place. It isn’t constant nor forceful. If I don’t take the time for myself to connect, I just end up working from the head, [a place] full of limitations, fears and worldly perceptions.
The practice of healing is also a form of innovation, to be in constant flux with expansion yet also knowing when to rest. Do you feel like your work is guided by cycles and what would those cycles of time or space be?
I think anybody’s life and not even just with regards to art making, is guided by cycles. Life itself is cyclical. So yes, I guess it’s safe to say that my work would only naturally be guided by that. Sometimes I have moments of nothingness where I can’t create at all — maybe I am in the metaphoric process of death or rest — and that’s just where I need to be in that moment. Sometimes life, spirit, everything in me feels so alive that I can’t help but just want to create, interact with and process the world in the ways I can, either through making art or through interactions with people. It’s hard to say [before being in it] what exact space I will be in. Like all humans are, sometimes I am on and sometimes I’m off, needing to go grow heal and reflect. Ultimately I think I am somebody who is interested in exploring the emotional, spiritual and energetic landscape of the human experience. The things we can’t see with our eyes.
What do you hope for the future for visual artists in South Africa?
This is what I hope for not only visual artists of South Africa but the people, I hope we move beyond the useless force fed medication that is the rainbow nation. That we allow the wound to burst open and clean itself. Then once we are done with that we can begin to make art that looks like true freedom beyond the pain. Art that looks like an exhale.