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Simphiwe Ndzube: Uncharted Lands and Trackless Seas

Stevenson Gallery

Cape Town, South Africa

January 24 – March 13, 2019


Press Release


STEVENSON is pleased to announce Uncharted Lands and Trackless Seas by Simphiwe Ndzube, his debut solo exhibition with the gallery.

Through painting, sculpture and installation, Ndzube stages an introduction to his imaginative universe, named Echoes of the First Stories. He states, ‘We begin in the real world and through interaction with the work enter a fabulist tale in progress. I’ve attempted to create the genesis of a cosmology that finds itself in the “uncharted lands and trackless seas” I call the Mine Moon. It emerges from the tradition of magical realism and is expanding to points currently unknown.’

Narrative influences span Ben Okri, Franz Kafka, Haruki Murakami, Hieronymus Bosch, David Lynch, Gabriel García Márquez and Zakes Mda. In particular Ndzube highlights Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community by Wendy B Faris and Lois Parkinson Zamora which describes magical realism as ‘a mode suited to exploring – and transgressing – boundaries, whether the boundaries are ontological, political, geographical or generic. [It] facilitates the fusion, or coexistence, of possible worlds, spaces, systems that would be irreconcilable in other modes.’ 

In tracing the history of the Mine Moon, Ndzube says:

We are told it resembles a space untainted by modernity, such as the desert and Johannesburg mining sites. We are also told of the Mungu People, the extraterrestrials that came and colonised the Moon to extract a bounty of its natural wealth, leaving a landless labour class, the Spirit People. Since then one of the major vocations of the Spirit People has been Gravedigging. Since the occupation began the Spirit People have used Gravedigging as a subversive tactic of survival during the day, and engaging in performative competitions on their days off. On occasion, the Goddess Nanana appears riding her totem spirit animal in what looks like a grand arrival from another planet to awaken her people from eternal sleep and take them to an expanded state of awareness. Ultimately, with the dictator named Gorogo ever-returning from the dead, the transcendental impulse of the Spirit People appears to be forever uncertain and precarious. The major adventure still lies ahead – perhaps they will remain in the state of potentiality as long as they are in the Mine Moon.

The characters, entities and archetypes in this exhibition span dream, allegory and myth as Ndzube iterates, ‘they have been inspired by those that I have come across, heard of and possibly seen in dreams or in other worlds’.

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