Bulawayo Conversations: sight and seeing by Olivia Botha

March 2018

Join us for a presentation by visiting artist-in-residence, Friday 23 March 2018 National Gallery Cinema room at 4 pm.

I was sitting in an unfamiliar waiting room, with an optometrist whom I’ve never met before as blind as a bat. Unable to see detail nor de?nite shapes, nothing but a mash-up of colour and lines with no de?ned borders. Here I was sitting, a sitting duck.  The concept of sight and seeing initially came to me at the end of last year after going for my routine eye test. I did not expect this one to be any different from all the previous ones until, after removing my contact lenses, I realized that I had left my spectacles at home. It was a new feeling going from a state of seeing with con?dence to a state of blindness and vulnerability. Imagine meeting someone for the ?rst time but not being able to see their de?ning features. Only after half an hour of interaction could I meet his eyes and identify him – relieved by the comfort of clear vision.  For me, being able to see the human face offers familiarity, comfort and a sense of safety. Whereas when the face is obscured

or concealed it evokes mystery, danger and the unknown.  For this body of work, I am exploring the idea of sight and seeing in relation to how we understand it’s function, speci?cally in terms of concealing an identity thereby allowing for more ambiguity and interpretation.  Sight and Seeing is also a play on the act of visiting a tourist attraction; to go sightseeing. As a ?rst-time visitor to the country, I have done a fair bit of sightseeing, however, my artistic approach will not go along conventional lines of sightseeing but rather challenge these predisposed ideas. The body of work will, therefore, be site-speci?c however unconventional.  The show will consist of photographic and sculptural works. Video performance and sound art might accompany the work. There is a high possibility that some sort of installation will occur within the gallery space as a result of the show.

image: Olivia Botha (left) and fellow visiting artists from London Tamu Nkiwane (right)visiting artists


Born in Bloemfontein, South Africa,  currently visiting Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Resides in Cape Town, South Africa. Olivia is an emerging artist and recent Fine Art graduate. Dean’s Merits List 2016 University of Cape Town, Michaelis, Gardens

EXHIBITIONS 2016 Whitewash Sasol New Signatures Competition, Pretoria Art Museum

2015 Bestiary: A Group Exhibition  Killing Two Birds with one Stone. In collaboration with Carli Bassin. Untitled Studios, Cape Town

Group Exhibition: Collective Noun. Where are you from? Where would you like to go? Michaelis Gallery, Cape Town

2014 Group Exhibition: Where the Wild Things Are Breathe Hiddingh Campus, Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town


For more details please contact the Curator National Gallery: c.zulu@nationalgallery.co.zw  Remember to bring along your favourite beverage to share.