Kemang Wa Lehulere, installation view of In All My Wildest Dreams, 2016

Kemang Wa Lehulere


The Art Institute of Chicago

Kemang Wa Lehulere, an artist, performer, photographer, and filmmaker, was born in Cape Town in 1984 to a white father (the son of Irish missionaries) and a black mother when mixed-race relationships and the children of such unions were illegal. The end of apartheid in 1994 came too late for Wa Lehulere’s parents, who were never able to live together, and who both died before he was 12. This personal history conjoined to the larger history of South Africa under apartheid forms the conceptual base of his work, which is never literal. Using a subtle, symbolic method, Wa Lehulere explores the relevance of the artistic gesture in post-apartheid South Africa. His poetic American museum debut, “In All My Wildest Dreams,” featured installations, drawings, performance video, and sculpture. Recycled school desks, sketchbook pages, as well as letters written to friends and public institutions form the materials for his highly personal sculptures, which achieve a unique balance between art and activism. Wa Lehulere mines his country’s history through storytelling, communicating narratives of the past (both private and collective) in order to rethink the present …see the entire review in the print version of Jul/Aug’s Sculpture magazine.