Wezile Harmans (B.1990, Port Elizabeth) is an art practitioner whose interdisciplinary practice encompasses performance, film, installation as a tool for social change. His work confronts prejudices and advocates against social inequality and creates a platform for critical self- reflexivity within unwelcoming spaces. Wezile’s work is influenced by how things have come to existence, as well as motivations behind certain movements, reactions, human behaviours and mostly how these become symbols. Wezile’s noted international projects includes video performance with LEAD Project and LSE Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa, M1/M2 Highway Billboard Feature by Centre for Less good ideas, A Film by Human Rights Defender Hub Artivism and University of York (CAHR), An acquisition of works by Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum and a collection by Art Bank South Africa. Wezile’s project Umdiyadiya received a 2022 Best Visual Art Award in creative Collection by The National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences. He is a 2019 David Koloane award recipient, Arts & Culture Trust Finalist Recipient for 2020. His body of work has been witnessed across the country including at Iziko National Gallery (SA), Norval Foundation, FNB Art Joburg, Latitudes Art Fair, AVA Gallery, UJ Art Gallery, South African State Theatre, Bag Factory Artist Studios, Hangar(Portugal), National Arts Festival Main program and PIAD. Wezile has participated in a number of residencies including SIRA residency (Madagascar), OpenLab residency (Karoo/ Bloemfontein), Virtual Worlding Residency exchange (Canada/RSA), BODYLAND residency (Hogsback). Upcoming residency: PACT Zollverein (Germany).
My practice is influenced by research based subjects that reveal human behaviour and the impact of knowledge transmission towards our surroundings. In my practice, I create works that engage with memory, reality, displacement and landscape.
These somewhat universal themes are dealt with in my work by highlighting the peculiarity of experiences and developing ideas duration as a way of creating deeper conversations. This deliberate highlighting of bodies into existence in my practice relates to the relationship we have with our surroundings.
I develop this by creating empowering conversations that forge new directions in the face of various forms of marginalisation and exclusion from public and social spaces. Working on such issues sheds a light in my artistic approach on revealing the impact of human behaviour.
I use art as a tool for social change and I engage with the community through art to reveal how art can be a coping mechanism, a system to educate and a medium to share voices of every individual. I believe we all want to be seen and heard in every possible way that we do exist, through my practice, I suggest that existence begins within the gift of a free mind to occupy and provide change that will be inclusive in our surroundings.
I use materials that have lived longer and have a significant influence in our lives, through them I suggest, the more socially relevant the idea of knowledge transmission and access to spaces using art, the more likely this knowledge is known and longer it will be remembered. The way it is remembered has its influence and impact in finding ways to respond to social issues.