Phumzile Konile on being unapologetic.

There is nothing more beautiful than vulnerability, and when there is strength and courage in being conscious, open and honest with it - how can one not be captivated and moved?

This is the thing about art- it is personal, and if powerful (and however one personally defines that is a beautiful thing too!) it has the power to become collective; and collective in the sense that it can fuel, support and highlight life- differences, similarities, new ideas, perspectives and allow for hope and change in a World that is very unfair right down to the basic human rights of its people. In saying this, Phumzile Konile is an artist that caught my attention a few years ago.

What captivated me was Phumzile's movement. She sent out videos of herself placed in public spaces expressively moving and dancing and by this, telling the stories of a strong youth that is prepared to find equality and justice in her reality and the reality of many others. A lot of people shy away when the word politics is muttered... but when we talk politics through art, this is when we may be a little more open to new views?

Often involved in performance art and the making of collaborative pieces, Phumzile is studying fulltime at UCT. We will find her is mainly behind the lens where she has the confidence to know her financial worth in making her art her business (which is very rare for many creatives let alone for someone so young.)

In this modern 'social status' of a World that we live in- where who you know, who you affiliate yourself with, where you hang out, how you present yourself etc. is something we are all very conscious about. You will come across people who completely oppose the concept and for others- it can be a superficial endeavour with narrow minded goals in mind, while for others morals and ethics lie at the base of this. When I first contacted Phumzile- it was to be apart of a video/performance art project that is in the pipeline for Miss H Collective. Her first question was- "who are the other people involved going to be?" because as a black queer femme, she wants the path she is paving for herself to be one of strength and understanding and forward movement in a country where change is needed, on many levels. Totally understandable!

She is a real definition and an example of a strong, determined youth of South Africa- one that allows for group empowerment- is strong and unapologetic about the stories she has to tell while stepping into a new, beautiful, diverse era whilst remembering and keeping her roots close to heart. Follow and really listen to her stories..

I am a creative with a conscious. Embedded in my works are cries of the lived journeys and prayers for the betterment of society. The content of my work is unapologetic and its execution, unconventional. My intentions are to speak my truth as it and to express it with honesty to all emotions felt. This storytelling is raw, the vulnerability felt is necessary and the strength developed through the process is rewarding.

Phumzile's work at the launch of Blurring Lines.

(M.H) We’ve built Miss H Collective on celebrating the power of what Art is- WHAT IS ART to you?

Art, to me, is about expressing ideas, thoughts and feelings. It is an expression of who we are and inevitably all that has shaped us; culture, environment, politics, for example.

(M.H) What inspires your work and tell us about your approach?

Most of my work, if not all of it, is about identity politics. I am influenced by the school of thought of intersectionality, so often I look at identity through that lens. How do the layers that make up who we are intertwine? Can conflicting identities, perhaps faith and sexuality, coexist in a space. I am intrigued about what constitutes identity and how involved the individual (the self)) is, in that process.

(M.H) How important is it for you to be able to have the freedom to create work that is solely based on your own expression rather than just commissioning/creating work to briefs for others? It is important that I am unapologetic about the art I create, however I do feel that I can do that and still get paid. Art for social media, magazines, blogs is valid and great for exposure however it is fulfilling to be commissioned for your work because it is that, work. Capitalism values certain kinds of occupations over others and as an artist I feel that art is undervalued in this system. As much as I ideologically despise this so called ‘free market’ system, I am still going to apply for jobs and sell my work. I am unapologetic of that.While dealing with the harsh realities of the world I must make sure that I remind myself of the purpose of creating. Creating is for healing, for sharing and uplifting myself and others. I must keep fuelling this fire of meaning that drives my work because Capitalism won’t do that for me.

(M.H) Your work often has poems and dialogue attached- can you tell us more about the movements you are wanting to create with your work?

I see my work as part of a collection of works made by black artists, particularly young black artists. I am inspired by many movements, one of them being the Black Consciousness Movement and think that the art that I create contributes to it.

(M.H) What future art projects are you working on?I have many ideas and some of which I am currently manifesting. I am not going to reveal what exactly I am creating but watch the space for all the magic that is going to be shared on my Instagram pages, @hildatheqing and @hindatheqing imagery

(M.H) Do you find that art is accessible in Cape Town?

Art comes from within and for that reason art can always be accessible. Spaces and resources in which to make art are however not accessible to black people in the city of Cape Town. It is important for all black artists to not only make work ‘for the people’ but to ensure that it can be accessed by them.

(M.H) What kind of platform/ establishment would you like to see your work displayed on? I would like to see my work being performed in all kinds of spaces, especially public spaces. I want my work to take all kinds of forms; visual, movement, words and sounds. My short term goals include being featured in magazines and zines I like, so I’ll keep submitting with hopes that that this dream will come true.

(M.H) Thoughts on collaboration?

Collaboration is so important. It allows one to share, to learn and create something beyond their imagination and themselves. I am working on collaborative projects and look forward to the others that will come my way.

(M.H) Do you think there should be more collaborative efforts or more funding opportunities for personal projects?

I think there can and should be both. Collaboration is not only beneficial for the reasons I have mentioned in my previous answer but is also great for exposure to new people and spaces as well as resources. Being able to make profit from personal projects is one of my goals. My wish is for all artistS to get access to funding because often without it the artist’s vision is not fully executed.

(M.H) Thoughts on community and public art- and what would you like to see more of in Cape Town?

I would like to see more art spaces being created for the public to use and engage with. Art production is too monopolised in bourgeois circles and institutions. I want to contribute to decentralising art production by creating more platforms that all can access.

(M.H) Any comments from the Blurring Lines exhibition we hosted at Gallery One11?

Blurring Lines Exhibition is one of the first exhibitions I have been part so for that reason, and other off course, it will remain embedded in my memory. The event was a great opportunity for me to share and receive from other young artists; I am very grateful for the experience. I look forward to exhibiting more works, especially alongside those that inspire that me.

Such a treat to be able to have both a video piece and print of this talent in the space during our Cape Town launch.

Thank you!


Phumzile in front of her video piece at the Blurring Lines launch.



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