HD VIDEO, Mono
Behind one of the windows at the kiosk, the video Feet under Fire is playing. It shows Lungiswa Gqunta's lower legs swinging in and out of the frame, wearing scrub brushes as shoes. The video is accompanied by voices singing the nursery rhyme Umzi Watsha, which translates from isiXhosa as The House is on Fire. Intrigued by the kneeling, scrubbing actions on the stoep floor, Gqunta exposes the superficiality of urban development as seen in the cosmetic "improvement" of Port Elizabeth's townships. In the video, a voice calls out with echo: look there, there's a fire, pour water! An instruction for survival to those living in the close confines of South Africa's informal settlements: Fires started by open cooking fires and kerosene stoves must be extinguished united, thus welding the community together. The element of fire is seared into Gqunta's practice as a metaphor for change. Gqunta says, Our house, as in our whole country, is on fire, and who is gonna put it out? We have to collectively come together to put it out, as Black people. Not even just South Africans, but the entire continent.
About the artist
Lungiswa Gqunta (*1990) is a visual artist working in performance, printmaking, sculpture, and installation. In her work, she attempts to deconstruct spatial modes of exclusion and oppression by amongst other issues the access to and ownership of land, creating work that highlights persistent social imbalances and legacies of both patriarchal dominance and colonialism. Most recently, she has shown her work at Künstlerhaus in Vienna, ZOLLAMTMMK in Frankfurt, and Apalazzo Gallery in Brescia.