Using material as metaphor, Hlobo blends innovation with tradition, probing with healing, and irreverence with respect.
Nicholas Hlobo creates works on paper, sculptures, and performances that harness the associative potential of materials, such as pink satin ribbon, rubber inner tubes, leather, lace, and weathered wood. His evocative images and forms play on connotations of gender, ethnicity, and his South African heritage. For Momentum 11, his first solo museum exhibition in the U.S., Hlobo creates a new sculptural installation, large-scale drawings, and a gallery performance that explore how “notions of nature / difference / foreignness / dominance / submission are forced to live side-by-side.”
Suspended in the gallery, a large rubber and ribbon sculpture resembling a bodily organ or growth connects by a canal to an opening in the gallery wall. This opening suggests an orifice or wound with ribbon-stitched veins inlaid directly in the plaster. The entire room will be lit from above with a soft pink glow, expanding the allusions to the gallery as a bodily interior of generative activity and growth, whether malignant or benign.
As part of his work for Momentum 11, Hlobo will also present a live performance, Thoba, utsale umnxeba. Translated to mean “to lower oneself and make a call,” the title describes how Hlobo will sit in a meditative posture with a headdress of multiple ribbons and hair extensions fastened like suction cups to the gallery walls. The performance introduces fresh perspectives to the space were the private body, public ritual, and cultural engagement align.
See a video of Hlobo’s performance in Poss Family Mdiatheque.