Italiano (Italian)

August 5 – September 9, 2023
Vernissage: Saturday, August 5, 4–7PM
Nicodim Los Angeles
1700 S Santa Fe Ave #160
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Thania Petersen, Picnic, 2023, embroidery thread on cotton poplin stitched onto linen, 23h x 33w in.

ZAMUNDA FOREVER, Thania Petersen’s first solo exhibition in the States, is divided into three bodies of intricately embroidered narrative textiles, covering her family’s history, their present-day life as seen from the outside, then finally portrayals of their familial dynamic in more personal settings. Juxtaposed against one another, the three series are an honest depiction of how the journey that brought the artist’s Cape Malay people to South Africa resulted in a separation of selves that exist symbiotically to construct a new cohesive and contemporary identity.

Thania Petersen, RAMPIE AND LAYER, 2023, silk embroidery thread on cotton poplin stitched onto linen, 74h x 67w in (188h x 170w cm)

Rampie and Layer, 2023, and The Tide Spits, 2023, the two pieces that comprise the first body of work, speak of the artist’s ancestral routes that led her people to South Africa. Through symbols evocative of Sufi ceremonies and mythologies intrinsic to the culture, the textiles colorfully encompass tales of empire, forced migration across the Indian Ocean, the spice trade, royals, love, loss, and exiles of the past.

The second series cheekily toys with what Petersen calls the “Zamundafication” of Africa. (Zamunda is the fictional African nation from which Eddie Murphy’s character hails in the 1988 film Coming to America.) In these large-scale works, the artist reckons with the hyper-commercialization of her native continent, and the semi-truthfulness of the signifiers both Westerners and Africans use to market themselves to one another—her sons cosplay as Ninja Turtles, gorge themselves on fast food and candy, and sprint through themed waterparks dressed in Vans and Adidas. Specifically, the textiles challenge Hollywood stereotypes of Africa, and confront ideas both homegrown and imported from abroad that dictate what it means to be African.

Thania Petersen, Sun City, 2023, embroidery thread, japanese glass cut beads, sequins on cotton poplin stitched onto linen, 46h x 107w in.

The third group of works are comprised of smaller-scale, intimate portraits of Petersen’s family at home—sincere, touching moments of life behind closed doors, which could take place in any country or continent. Bicycle, 2023, Family, 2023, and Cake, 2023 are tender snapshots that would be at home in any family photo album. Petersen’s family is your family, her home is yours.

Taken together, ZAMUNDA FOREVER, like Petersen herself, embodies the plural histories, spiritualities, sonorities, and cultures of the Afrasiatic Sea. Also everpresent: the universal and readily identifiable signs of a family and community that lives, laughs, and loves with one another.

Thania Petersen, Kinnes Vannie Ghoema, 2023, silk embroidery thread, japanese glass cut beads on cotton poplin stretched onto linen, 70h x 68w in.

Thania Petersen (b. 1980, Cape Town) is a South African multidisciplinary artist who uses embroidery, photography, performance, and installation to address the intricacies and complexities of identity in contemporary South Africa. ZAMUNDA FOREVER is her first solo exhibition in the States. Recent exhibitions include Galeria Nicodim, Bucharest: 10 Years, Galeria Nicodim, Bucharest (2023); 18th Venice Architecture Biennale (2023);  Indigo Waves and other Stories, SAAVY Contemporary, Berlin (2023); Indigo Waves and other Stories, Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town (2022–2023); Artists’ Film International (traveling), Whitechapel, London, Istanbul Modern, Istanbul, Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, and others (2022); Can We Sing Together, Old Friend?, 32 Bis, Tunis (2022, solo); Triennale Kleinplastic Fellbach: The Vibration of Things, Alte Kelter Fellbach, Fellbach (2022);  Where Do I Begin, Stevenson, Cape Town (2022);  KASSARAM, Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town (2021, solo); Indian Ocean Craft Triennial: Curiosity and the Rituals of the Everyday, Fremantle, Australia (2021); Self-Addressed, curated by Kehinde Wiley, Jeffrey Deitch, Los Angeles (2021); Un.e Air.e de Famille, Musée d’art et d’histoire Paul Eluard, Saint-Denis (2021); Between Land and a Raised Foot, National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, South Africa (2019, solo); Radical Love, Ford Foundation, New York (2019); and IQRA, WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town (2019, solo). Her work is collected by the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C.; Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), Cape Town;  IZIKO South African Museum, Cape Town; Pérez Art Museum, Miami; and many others.

Thania Petersen, Good Vibes Only, 20