Donna Kukama was born in 1981 in Mafikeng, South Africa, and currently lives and works in Johannesburg. A multimedia artist working in performance, video, text, and sound installation, her approach to her practice is experimental; she mostly applies methods that she describes as “deliberately undisciplined.” Kukama uses her performances as a medium of resistance against already-established ways of doing, and also as a strategy for inserting an alien voice and presence into various moments in history. These actions are intended as gestures of poetry with political intent, which hopefully destabilize existing canons regarding the way people look at reality.
Kukama has participated and performed in various art fairs and biennials, including the 55th Venice Biennale (2013), the FNB Joburg Art Fair, Johannesburg (2012 and 2009), Supermarket Art Fair, Stockholm (2012), FOCUS11, Basel, Switzerland (2011), ARCOmadrid (2010), and Art Miami (2009). She has performed and participated in exhibitions internationally, including at the New Museum, New York (2013), Blank Projects, Cape Town (2012), Kunsthalle Luzern, Lucerne, Switzerland (2011), and Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town (2010). Award nominations for her work include the Ernst Schering Prize (2011) and the MTN New Contemporaries Award (2010). Kukama is one of the founding members of the Center for Historical Reenactments, a Johannesburg-based independent platform that died by means of institutional suicide on the 12th day of the 12th month in 2012 following a two-year existence between 2010 and 2012. Together with Kemang Wa Lehulere, she cofounded the Johannesburg-based NON-NON Collective in 2010, which received a nomination for the Visible Award (IT) in 2011. Kukama was named the National Arts Festival’s 2014 Standard Bank Young Artist for Performance Art.