Modisa (Tim) Motsomi

Artist Statement

In my work, I try to emphasize my interest in materiality and the liminal space between beauty and homeliness, loss and gain, fragility and strength, self and other, fact and truth, and how these polarities can give insight to the development of both personal narratives and shared(cultural) narratives. By taking aesthetic references from documentations of African rituals as a means of reflecting symbolic gestures relating to rites of passage, and re-appropriating them in my work to create quasi-historic presentations and dioramas, I question the implications of shared culture and knowledge. By approaching the idea of memory from an allegorical stance that implies it is a sense, I use my own body as a tool to reflect the act of ‘remembering’, fictionally or otherwise, as an entity with corporeal potential. What results from this is a historical mis-en-scene that is less about fact and rather about an imagined ideal. In these scenarios I hope to create a new aesthetic experience that is both well-known yet equally obscure. This aspect of my work, I believe, gives and denies entry into understanding the work, and reflects my interest in critiquing the modernist ideal through its own ‘anthropological lens’; a ‘lens’ that emphasizes the constant desire to assert validity through categorization. This is in some way reflected through the fact that, although present, the figures I create remain knowingly mute and seemingly unaware (closed eyes) of the fact that they are on view; whilst at the same time they seem to be policing their own secret and fantastical historiographies.

-- Modisa (Tim) Motsomi


Modisa Motsomi (b. 1990) is a Botswana-born multi-disciplinary artist working between South Africa and Botswana. His practice investigates the narratives of the inter-African diaspora and the politics of representation within the discourse of African migration in the 21st century.