Levy Pooe: Mphe mphe ya lapisa

20 FEB - 12 MAR 2021

The Bag Factory is pleased to present Mphe Mphe ya Lapisa, a solo exhibition of new work by Levy Pooe, winner of the prestigious 2020 Cassirer Welz Award presented by the Bag Factory in partnership with Strauss Education.

This body of work is an extension of Pooe’s ongoing themes that revolve around his relationship with the urban space, Black narratives and the subtleties and enormities of Black struggles in the city.

Mphe Mphe ya Lapisa, motho o kgona ke sagagwe is a seTswana idiom, which can be translated to: “The constant act of asking is tiring. It is better to have your own.” Mphe Mphe Ya Lapisa Mphe Mphe Ya Lapisa emerges from navigating the socio-economic condition and the deepening class disparity in our everyday experiences of being Black in post-liberation South Africa. From enduring the long wait for the R350 social grant to passionately playing the flute in the street for the nonchalant passerby who sometimes offers neither money nor appreciation, Mphe Mphe Ya Lapisa gives meaning to the universal experience of how we see ways of asking, and how we become victims to this state of being. This theme poses questions such as but not limited to: What do we ask for? When do we ask? Who do we ask? From which spaces do we ask? In addition, this theme further calls us to interrogate the oppressive nature of being in a continuous state of lack as well as how this state further compromises our dignity, our bodies, our voices, and our autonomy.

Taking the artist's relationship with the city of Johannesburg as a source of inspiration, the acrylic paintings and charcoal drawings presented interpret the theme in various ways. The subtle and mellow work Praying for Employment interrogates the different situations that the youth in South Africa find themselves in and the ways in which they navigate the pressures of not being upwardly mobile in a city that thrives on affluence and materiality. Kopa ungfake VIP (please get me into VIP) highlights the core message of this theme as it depicts the ways in which we navigate social mobility by constantly begging for a place in high-end spaces. Busking in the city takes the viewer on a walk through the city, which recognises the street musicians and how their melodies define their silences and struggles, as well as how they ask to be heard.

Exhibition opening
Sat 20 FEB 2021, 11am-2pm

Artist walkabout
Sat 06 MAR 2021, 11am

Click on the image below to view the virtual exhibition.