Thembeka Heidi Sincuba (they/them) is part of the Artist-Run Practice and Theory course at Konstfack. Sincuba began undergraduate studies at the University of Cape Town and Artez Arnhem going on to do a masters at Goldsmiths University of London and is now a PhD candidate at the University of Cape Town with a working thesis title: Ubungoma, Fetish and Technology: A Synthesis of Art. The artist has worked globally on individual as well as collaborative projects and taught painting at Rhodes University as well as an ongoing course called Spirituality in Art at the University of Cape Town. This research interest is rooted in the artist’s own training as a sangoma (Traditional Healer) and association with Bonabakhulu Abasekhemu through the work of elder and healer Mkhulu Nsingiza, supported by the Zindzi Mandela Foundation.
Sincuba’s practice uses the concepts of Afro-pessimism and social death, with an interest in womxn’s work globally and more specifically sub saharan Africa. The work’s aims are towards fugitivity, sex positivity and the eradication of gender based violence. The transdisciplinary use of painting, drawing, photography, video, performance, text, textiles, community work and installations, as well as a conceptual foundation of lived experience and indegenous knowledge systems mark the nuance of this practice. The decade-long, independent career has yielded a fluid and speculative aesthetic, manifested through methodologies of multiplicity.
“Everybody knows that the booty don’t lie ”. - Erykah Badu, Q.U.E.E.N
During the Malongen residency, the artist will experiment with oil paints, textiles, found objects, audio and footage as well as text, installation and collectivity to interrogate the notion of twerking. The envisaged title for the final body of work is The Twerkshop: Liminal bodies in motion. The Twerkshop was first presented at the Rhodes University Art Department in 2018 where the artist invited womxn to join in an expression of desire and pleasure in the form of twerking. It was again presented at a conference called Theatre and Cultures of Gender Equality Amongst Sex Workers hosted by the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce and the African Gender Institute in 2019 at the Tshishimani Centre for Activist Education.
The Oxford Dictionary defines twerking as a: “dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance”, but the artist is concerned with the implications of this movement beyond popular culture. The research will explore examples of historical, spiritual, traditional and technological iterations of this movement across the African continent and its diaspora. The work will speculate why black womxn twerk across timespaces through the lens of Audre Lorde’s text The Power of the Erotic. Through transdisciplinarity and interactivity the experiment offers a transformed narrative of black womxnhood and pleasure politics in the postcolonial context.