Wezile Harmans (b. 1990, Port Elizabeth) is a visual art practitioner whose interdisciplinary
practice encompasses performance, video, installation, and mixed-media artworks as a tool for social change. His work confronts prejudices and advocates against social inequality, creating 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 behaviors and mostly how these become symbols. In his practice, he uses the theory of defamiliarization as an alternative way to create further conversations. Wezile’s noted international projects include a video performance with LEAD Project and LSE Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa (London); M1/M2 highway billboard feature by The Centre for the Less Good Idea (Johannesburg); and a film by human rights defender Hub Artivism and University of York (CAHR) (UK).
His work has been acquired by Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum; and ArtbankSA, National Museum of South Africa in Bloemfontein. Wezile’s project 'Umdiyadiya' received the 2022 Best Visual Art Award in
Creative Collection by the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences. He was a
finalist in the 2020 Arts & Culture Trust Awards and was the recipient of the 2019 David Koloane Award.
His performance work has been witnessed in South Africa at Iziko South African National
Gallery, Norval Foundation, National Arts Festival, FNB Art Joburg, Latitudes Art Fair, AVA Gallery, UJ Art Gallery, Museum of African Design, South African State Theatre, Bag Factory Artist Studios, PIAD ( Programme for Innovation in Artform Development) developed by the Vrystaat Arts Festival and the University of the Free State in partnership with Public Art Project, funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation. Internationally he has presented his performance work at Hangar (Portugal), and he has participated in several residencies including SIRA residency (Madagascar), OpenLab residency (Karoo/Bloemfontein), Griffin Art Projects 'Virtual Worldings' Residency Exchange (Canada/RSA), BODYLAND residency (Hogsback), and PACT Zollverein (Germany). In January 2023 he will participate in the Krone x WHATIFTHEWORLD residency programme at Twee Jonge Gezellen in Tulbagh, Western
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.