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Kgotlelelo Sekiti is Exploring Parallel Universes as "Safer" Spaces for Queer Bodies

Kgotlelelo Bradley Sekiti is a multidisciplinary artist who creates through the mediums of visual art, dance and music as a DJ.

Kgotlelelo is currently showing his visual art at TMRW gallery in a group virtual exhibition titled "Coexistence". The exhibition is a collection and preservation of new and existing works spanning themes of a collective loneliness, reconfigured relationships, and personal identity, living both on and offline. 

In his artist statement Kgotlelelo says: "Undeniably so the experience of being a black queer body has not been the easiest. Throughout, the journey seems to be designed with the challenge of navigating “safe” spaces of existence which along the way prove that the notion of a safe space is one that is almost non-existent. This work looks into what I have deemed as a “safer” space. As recently discovered by NASA —the possibility of an alternate/parallel universe — my practice forms into the exploration of parallel universes that queer bodies create in order to enable the co-existence of split realities that they identify with into a single frame. "

What has the process of self documentation through portraiture taught you about yourself?

Recently, it has taught me a lot on how I need to be gentle on my body. Without a doubt as black bodies we are going through a lot and still dealing with generational trauma and I think having being born into such a fast paced generation, I have been kind of violent to myself in terms of the output of my being, conversational wise, creatively and spiritually. The process in itself always leads me into a state of calmness and patience which I thought were things I didn’t come short on but have realized that no hey, I should indulge more into breathing.

You mention in your artist statement for the exhibition "Coexistence" that "in existing as part of the simulation there's a possibility of death for simply being" please elaborate on this notion

Being a queer black body is amongst one the most horrifying experiences one can go through, most of us have kind of diluted ourselves because we are very much so scared of dying for just simply being ourselves, not only through murder but also spiritually, we actually face every day as a testament to self death because there’s nothing excruciating like not living your truth and deprived you from getting the best out of life.

What role does vulnerability play in your creative process and in your artistry?

Vulnerability plays a huge role because in my visual works that’s when I portray my real self, it always feels like a sit down with a potential partner or friend where I’m revealing my “darkest” secrets.

As you evolve as an artist and as a being, what are you learning about being black, queer and an artist in South Africa?

I have found beautiful moments in it such as the sense of community that I’ve cultivated for myself. I have met a lot of good people along journey and also still bound to meet more but with those I’ve met so far, I’ve received nothing but love and I think it has really taught me the importance of community, it really goes a long way and has had a huge impact in my growth. The hard part is that I still have to hide my art from my immediate family because I still don’t know how the reception will be and it just always feels like I’m running.

What is the intentionality behind not showing your face and in contrast showing your body in some of your self portraits?

Throughout my life, I had always thought that the only way people recognize a person is through their facial features and I really believe in me being a vessel for the stories of other queer bodies, so the work does not only represent me but others that also carry the same narrative. I stray away from giving it a face.

As a dancer how does movement inform your portraiture?

Movement has always enabled me to be expressive so before creating work, a quick session of just being in tune with how and where my body is at in the current time through movement plays as development towards creation of the work.

In what ways has where you come from influenced your work as an artist?

Where I’m from has given me a sense of identity in how I express my blackness, my queerness and my intellect and I always just try and translate that in the works. I have been put into the position that my works confront mainly because of where I grew up.

Interview: Phendu Kuta


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