STEVENSON is presenting Bamb’iphone, Dada Khanyisa’s first solo show with the gallery.
In this presentation of three-dimensional paintings, drawings and sculptures, Dada explores a ubiquitous everyday object that nonetheless retains the ability to confer social capital – the cellphone.
The title, which translates to “Pick up the phone” or “Hold the phone”, draws the viewer’s attention to the myriad narratives that pivot around this device. Works with titles such as Khawu’phinde umtryeh (“Try them again”), Ngisenza iplan (“I’m still making a plan”) and internet friends are not your friends: Squad Goals portray scenes from multiple vantage points. Dada avoids simplistic conclusions, synthesising opposing perspectives to defy linear ways of thinking. A sound installation, developed with writer and academic Julie Nxadi, features utterances that could be attributed to any of the characters in the paintings.
The visual and auditory ambiguities in this exhibition channel the oral tradition’s method of “call and response”, choreographing an open-ended relationship between the works. In Bamb’iphone, the contemporary South African experience is depicted as a tapestry of interweaving viewpoints and stories in constant shift.
Embedded social commentary
Images are sourced from party-photos uploaded by nightclubs, Instagram posts, and pages from old Drum magazines; these are reconfigured to express a unique generational viewpoint. Citing the relations around power and consumption that arrived with cellphones, excitement around “game-changing” handsets, and the democracy of the internet as a “path towards fame”, Dada states “Sonke silapho” – “We’re all in there”.
As a member of a social group that came of age during the advent of the digital era – witnessing the accelerating speed between cycles of relevance and how these manifest in material culture and the social fabric – the artist positions these works as embedded social commentary. Bambi’phone is a sensitive appraisal of contemporary culture, articulating the paranoias and aspirations of the “digital immigrants” who preceded ‘digital natives’.
Dada Khanyisa was born in 1991 in Umzimkhulu, KwaZulu-Natal. In 2016 Dada completed a BAFA at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. Dada has participated in group exhibitions at various galleries across the country, including STEVENSON’S A Painting Today in 2017. Also in 2017, Dada was commissioned to produce a 35-metre mural painting at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg as a way to give the historic site contemporary appeal. As a merit winner at the SA Taxi Art Awards in 2015. Dada’s work was featured on 10 taxis traversing the main roads of South Africa.
Where and when: STEVENSON, Woodstock from 22 May to 30 June 2018