Kemang Wa Lehulere was born in 1984 in Gugulethu, Cape Town, and lives and works in Johannesburg. Working in performance, drawing, installation, text, and photography, he creates events and environments as an attempt to understand South Africa’s past and present. His work engages with the spaces between personal narrative and collective history, between processes of amnesia and archive. Performative gestures of unearthing, discovery, destruction, and erasure are central to his work. His unique blend of formal and representational exploration gives his works a sense of mystery, leaving them open to the viewer’s interpretation.
Wa Lehulere has had solo exhibitions at Lombard-Freid Gallery, New York (2013), Stevenson Gallery, Johannesburg (2012), Goethe-Institut, Johannesburg (2011), and the Association for Visual Arts, Cape Town (2009). He has participated in group shows at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013), the New Museum, New York (2013 and 2012), the 11th Biennale de Lyon, France (2011), and Kunsthalle Bern and Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, Switzerland (2010). Wa Lehulere is a cofounder of the Gugulective (2006), an artist-led collective based in Cape Town, and founding member of the Centre 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 Donna Kukama, he cofounded the Johannesburg-based NON-NON Collective in 2010, which received a nomination for the Visible Award (IT) in 2011. Wa Lehulere is the inaugural winner of the Dresden State Art Collection’s Tiberius International Art Award (2014). He won the 15th Baloise prize at the 2013 Art Basel fair, the Tollman Award for the Visual Arts in 2012, the MTN New Contemporaries Award in 2010, and the inaugural Spier Contemporary Award in 2007. He was the recipient of an Ampersand Foundation residency in New York in 2012.