The three balloons - Bubblegum Club

The three balloons

* This body of work was created at the Bubblegum Studio with Kgotlelelo B. Sekiti as the recipient of our Bubblegum Invites open call

The three balloons is an extensive body of work that explores the generational and ongoing traumas of Black bodies, the everyday experiences of queer Black bodies and Black body’s ability to embrace the gift of life through celebration portrayed by a balloon. The work puts a spectacle on the exploitation of Black bodies in contemporary art spaces through the lens of white bodies for the white gaze and how that has shifted the way Black bodies have to express themselves through art in order to be palatable for contemporary art spaces. Looking into how blackness is now viewed as a commodity, or rather, as a can of beans you can buy off of the shelves. Black bodies are constantly erased by a world that bites off from them. It’s a multimedia body of work that mainly focuses on reclaiming the spectacle in which me — as a Black body living in the contemporary — would like to tell my own story, moving away from the way white lenses sensationalise Black bodies. 

297 x 420mm on archival paper 

297 x 420mm on archival paper 

297 x 420mm on archival paper 

297 x 420mm on archival paper 

The work has placed me as a vessel of expression not only for myself, but more of Black queer bodies that get erased in the contemporary. This part of the work is inspired by the famous documentary Paris is Burning, which is about Ball culture and which highlights the fundamentals of community; community which was predominately Black. The documentary has also played a huge part in how I express myself as a performer, its in the hand gestures and the liberation of the body as is. This part of the work does this through the medium of video work that explores creating alternate universes that allow endless self expression. 

Mmele

The self portraits look into how queer Black bodies get viewed by the white gaze, the normalisation of weird fetishes such us “white man gets blacked”, have cultivated not only a vicious but also a racist spectacle for bodies. Here I am, in my clean white shirt, well-groomed afro, knowing that what probably matters might only be what’s under my pants. This spectacle has led seeking for affection as putting yourself out on auction. 

594 x 420mm on archival paper 

594 x 420mm on archival paper 

Installation of half painted mask 

594 x 420mm on archival paper 

Above everything, Black bodies always find ways to find rehabilitation and healing. Through faith and through community. The three balloons is a meditative process that celebrates blackness. Through sound works that run at 432hz — the frequency that is prominent in the Black community — from the sounds of the Zion church and the energy that radiates when we connect in a circle during celebrations. The shape of the balloon is the endless possibility of life as it is and the capturing of energy in a bubble, more so, a circle. 

594 x 841mm on archival paper 

Video artworks in collaboration with: Aux Alaio

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