Thania Petersen at Zeitz MOCAAThe Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) presents the open-studio investigation Kassaram by multi-disciplinary artist Thania Petersen as part of the museum’s Atelier Residency programme. The residency is currently on from May 2021 to 17 October 2021.

Meaning a “big mess, out of place or upside down”, Kassaram is taken from the title of Petersen’s most recent art film, which analyses strategies used in creating and perpetuating cultural divides amongst people of colour through art – from colonialism to the present. It is also a fitting word to describe the open and experimental nature of the Atelier space Petersen will work from over the next five months.

Launched as an experimental platform and residency that provides artists with an opportunity to create new work, conduct research and develop ideas for future projects, the Atelier is a multi-gallery area situated on the museum’s second floor. In addition to providing an exploratory space for artists, the Atelier is also open to the public, allowing visitors to Zeitz MOCAA to have unique access and insight into the artists’ modes of production and processes.

Thania Petersen, who uses photography, performance and installation to address the intricacies and complexities of her identity in contemporary South Africa, is no stranger to Zeitz MOCAA. Her work forms part of the Zeitz permanent collection and she was also one of the inaugural artists on exhibit at the launch of the museum in September 2017.

Thania Petersen at Zeitz MOCAA

Thania Petersen: “Art is what makes us human”

“I am extremely excited at the opportunities the Atelier presents. My new film Kassaram will be on view and I am hoping to turn the fictional set into reality in one of the studio spaces,” says Petersen, who believes that artists play several roles in society. “I feel art is what makes us human, it is what sets us apart from everything else on Earth. We love through art, we yearn through art, we worship through art.

“In my art, I attempt to tell my family stories and rewrite the narrative I grew up with, which served to erase the culture of my people, often leaving us feeling inferior. The Creolised community of the Cape are no longer the lost children of this land. We have fought and loved and lost and laughed and birthed on this soil. We are the Cape, we carry the oceans and land in our blood. I want everyone to know who we are.”

Throughout the artist’s projects, she attempts to unpack contemporary trends of Islamophobia through her analysis of the continuing impact of colonialism, European and American imperialism, and the increasing influence of right-wing ideologies, all anchored by reference points that sit largely in Islam and the awareness of its religious, cultural and traditional practices.

What: Thania Petersen Atelier Residency Programme | Kassaram

Where and when: Zeitz MOCAA from May 2021 to 17 October 2021