Now in its fifth year, the successful Zeitz MOCAA Atelier residency programme welcomes artist Unathi Mkonto as its latest artist-in-residence. Mkonto’s residency, titled ‘TO LET’, will open on Thursday, 22 June 2023 on level 2 of the museum.
‘TO LET’ is a studio residency by Eastern Cape born, Cape Town based artist Unathi Mkonto, part of Zeitz MOCAA’s ongoing Atelier program. Mkonto, whose practice sits at the juncture between art, design and architecture, engages the museum as a maze that his work is part of. Thinking about how people interact with “the edge of the city” – a commercial and domestic strip of land – Mkonto has created a site for himself and the audience to play, investigate and contemplate. The artist reveals processes that are often hidden and shares his drawing journals and processes as photocopies displayed in the gallery.
Consisting of photographs, drawings, maquettes, sculptures, and installations, ‘TO LET’ is an open investigation that uses the physicality of space to engage and implicate the people who will encounter it. The artist questions the ways in which architecture encourages a particular performance from the people living, working and playing in and around it. The artist will create “movable platforms” – structures that will have varying purposes, inspired by the corner stores, vendors, and people in his local community. In line with the program’s vision as an exploratory space, Mkonto plans to collaborate with the vibrant community of artists and creatives who have been part of his career.
Launched as an experimental platform and residency that provides Cape Town based artists with an opportunity to create new work, conduct research and develop ideas for future projects, the Atelier is a multi-gallery area situated on the museum’s second floor. In addition to providing an exploratory space for artists, the Atelier is also open to the public, allowing visitors to Zeitz MOCAA to have unique access and insight into the artists’ modes of production and processes.
About Unathi Mkonto
Unathi Mkonto (b. 1982, Peddie, South Africa) is a Cape Town-based artist working with drawing, sculpture and installation. Mkonto is a self-taught artist who pursued a Bachelor’s in Architecture at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth. He was also a design fellow at Architecture for Humanity in Johannesburg and has participated in residencies at the A4 Arts Foundation (AVOID, 2018) and Alma Martha, both in Cape Town, South Africa.
Mkonto has experimented with performance art, most notably in the seventh season of mentorships at the Center for the Less Good Idea, a performing arts theatre in Johannesburg. With a practice that sits at the juncture between art, design and architecture, Mkonto says: “I am always studying and looking at processes to humanise this historically apartheid-inspired built environment”.
He has participated in local and international group exhibitions that include If not now, then when? (2022) at BKhz Gallery in Johannesburg; Seeds of the Fig (2022) and The Phoenix Runway (2022), both at WHATIFTHEWORLD Gallery in Cape Town; Where do I begin (2022) at Stevenson Gallery in Cape Town; The Spectacle (2020) at THEFOURTH in Cape Town; UNDERLINE Projects (2019) at the Museum of African Design in Johannesburg; NON XCHANGE: GENERAL ASSEMBLY (2017) at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London; Young Now (2017) at HAZARD Gallery in Johannesburg; and Embrace Tiger & Return to Mountain (2016) at Alma Martha in Cape Town. His solo exhibitions include flat (2018) at blank gallery, Enclosed Camp (2022) at Open 24 Hrs and Mkonto I Mazwana (2021) at Spaceby, all in Cape Town.