Lerato Shadi (b. in Mahikeng, South Africa, lives and works in Berlin) examines Western views of history, working to expose the invisible or overlooked. She does this in her artistic practice by focusing on body politics and refers in particular to experiences that are inscribed in the body. In forms such as drawing, performance, film and installation she elaborates on institutional violence, patriarchal and colonial strategies of exclusion or erasure, as well as subjective narratives of resistance.
Batho ba me is a phrase in Setswana that appears as an address in political speeches and translates as "My people" or "My fellow men". Shadi has been using Setswana frequently in her work for a number of years, to name exhibitions and works. With the choice of this language, Shadi points to a question of inclusion and exclusion: Who is addressed in which way and who is not? Today Setswana is one of eleven official languages in South Africa and is spoken by almost 10% of the population. During the apartheid period, it was one of the most suppressed languages in the country.
The edition shows the phrase “We the people” in black letters on a red background. This is a formulation that can be found in the preamble of many state constitutions worldwide. Shadi accentuates this lettering with two neon elements to the question “Are we the people?”—which is aimed directly at the viewer. For whom is the "we" that is claimed here in actual reality, and how is such a "we" defined? Shadi refers to a fundamental discrepancy between inclusion and exclusion that always occurs when communities are constituted. In particular by political discourse, where the “we” is used to assert a sense of community that also needs to be critically questioned. Debates about access to civil and human rights repeatedly show that the question of “we” is always remains a problem that requires examination.
Maru a Pula Is a Song of Happiness, KINDL – Centre for Contemporary Art, Berlin (E)
#UNFINISHEDTRACES: Batho Ba Me, Kunstverein in Hamburg (E)
The Power of My Hands, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (G)
Times You Have Known, nbk, Berlin (G)
Lefa Le, Black History Month Florence, SACI Gallery, Florenz (G)
Seeds for Future Memories, ifa Galerie, Berlin (G)
Sound on the 4th Floor, kuratiert von Gerwald Rockenschaub, Daimler Contemporary, Berlin (G)
MINE—The Film Will Always Be You, Tate Modern, London (G)