Lawrence Lemaoana

Exhibition catalogue
Being there
Fondation Louis Vuitton & Dilecta
Paris, 2017

English pdf version / French pdf version

I think the media have a huge influence on what people think. They very much shape the psyche of the masses.

Born In Johannesburg in 1982

Lawrence Lemaoana graduated in Fine Arts from the University of Johannesburg in 2007. His works, whether sculptures in the public space, digital prints or printed and embroidered textiles compositions, are inspired by the language of the media and politics, and its hold on the collective imagination.

In 2008, after a scandal involving a South African leader, the artist began a series of slogans embroidered on khanga Njeti fabrics. Khanga is a multifunctional piece of fabric whose use and prints vary according to region, depending on history, beliefs, fashion and trade. Industrially produced, the fabric is sold in the markets and worn mainly by the women of southern Africa and East Africa. Designed in the Netherlands and made in Asia to be exported to South Africa, the fabric is a globalised product of trade. In the context of South Africa, it is also used for its spiritual nature by sangomas and inyanga, soothsayers and traditional healers. Its prints and designs are associated with ancestral gures, who may be represented in the forms of suns and animals, conferring a metaphorical meaning on the fabric. 

In Lemaoana’s work, the layout of the text refers to the posters of newspapers headlines plastered all over South Africa (shopping centres, crossroads and motor- way exits). These slogans refer in turn to the ght against apartheid, political quotations and the artist’s cultural in uences.

The artist criticises the in uence of the media on the collective consciousness, while celebrating the power of language in the liberation of peoples. His oldest embroideries (2008) were directly inspired by the pages of the widely read newspapers such as the Mail & Guardian and The Sun. In other compositions from 2015, superposing different types of khanga, the text takes on a more iconic dimension. Our Freedom Can’t Wait thus refers to a headline in a newspaper brandished by the American political activist Malcolm X in a 1963 photograph. The most recent series (2017), pro- duced for the exhibition, explores the fusion of polit- ical and religious imagery, such as Zuma Is Like Jesus, anc Will Rule Until Jesus Comes. Finally, the composi- tions Silence Falls and Freedom Is a Stone Throw Away evokes the #RhodesMustFall movement, which began in 2015. Isolating, fragmenting and appropriating discourses, the works afirm the power of words as favoured instruments in the political struggle.





Anaïs Lepage is an independent curator, writer, art historian and lecturer.

Trained in art history at the École du Louvre, in museum studies at the University of Quebec in Montreal and in curatorial studies at the Sorbonne University, she has multiplied her experiences in France and abroad. She began at the Maison Rouge in Paris, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Montreal, and alongside Guillaume Désanges at the Verrière - Hermès Foundation in Brussels. Then, she became involved as assistant curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chengdu in China, at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris and at the Louis Vuitton Foundation.

With a fondness for collective dynamics, she co-founded the Heiwata curatorial platform, based in Paris, Mexico City and Toronto, and participates in the queer and feminist workshop How to Suppress Universty Writing led by Émilie Noteris. Recently, she has collaborated with AICA International, CNEAI, the Palais de Tokyo, the Cité Internationale des arts and the Drawing Lab in Paris. Since 2019, she is teaching exhibition curating at the Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University. 

Her research focuses on the excesses and secrets of art history linked to sensitivities and spiritualities as well as postcolonial, gender and feminist studies. She is particularly attached to words, forms and gestures generated outside of a rationalist thinking : drawing on occult and mystical sources; or being inspired by affective flows, emotions and the sentimental life. Practices that often cross issues of resistance, struggle, healing, and relationship to the living. She has developed projects with artists such as Madison Bycroft, Julien Creuzet, Ad Minoliti, and Daniel Otero Torres, among others.

Deploying a holistic conception of curating, she also reflects on the forms of writing about art by shifting the critical, fictional and intimate registers during collaborations, performances and podcasts.

Inspired by radical pedagogies, she began researching the “emotional labor” that operates in the positions of curator,  lecturer, and art worker.

Over the course of meetings and projects, she has developed a particular interest in the artistic scenes of the Americas and the Caribbean, Scandinavia and South Africa.


Anaïs Lepage est curatrice indépendante, autrice, chercheuse et enseignante. 

Formée en histoire de l’art à l’École du Louvre, en muséologie à l’Université du Québec à Montréal et en études curatoriales à l’Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, elle multiplie les expériences en France et à l’étranger. Elle débute à la Maison Rouge à Paris, au Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal et aux côtés de Guillaume Désanges à la Verrière – Fondation Hermès à Bruxelles. Elle s’investit ensuite en tant que commissaire assistante au Musée d’Art Contemporain de Chengdu en Chine, au Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris, et à la Fondation Louis Vuitton.

Affectionnant les dynamiques collectives, elle a cofondé la plateforme curatoriale HEIWATA, basée entre Paris, Mexico et Toronto, et participe à l’atelier d’écriture queer et féministe How to SupPRESS Universty Writing mené par Émilie Noteris. Récemment, elle a collaboré avec l’AICA International, le CNEAI, le Palais de Tokyo et la Cité Internationale des arts à Paris. Depuis 2019, elle enseigne le commissariat d’exposition à l’Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.

Ses recherches portent sur les excès et les secrets de l’histoire de l’art en lien avec des sensibilités et des spiritualités ainsi que les études postcoloniales, de genre et féministes. Elle s’attache particulièrement aux mots, aux formes et aux gestes générés hors d’une pensée rationaliste : puisant dans des sources occultes et mystiques ; ou s’inspirant de flux affectifs, d’émotions et de la vie sentimentale. Des pratiques qui traversent souvent les questions de résistance, de lutte, de réparation, et de relation au vivant. Elle a ainsi développé des projets avec des artistes tels que Madison Bycroft, Julien Creuzet, Ad Minoliti, et Daniel Otero Torres, entre autres.

Déployant une conception holistique du commissariat, elle réfléchit également aux formes d’écritures sur l’art en déplaçant les registres critique, fictionnel et intime lors de collaborations, de performances et de créations radiophoniques.

Inspirée par les pédagogies radicales et engagées, elle commence une recherche sur le “travail émotionnel” à l'oeuvre dans les rôles de commissaire d'exposition, d'enseignante et de travailleuse de l’art.  

Au fil des rencontres et des projets, elle a développé un intérêt particulier pour les scènes artistiques des Amériques et des Caraïbes, Scandinave et d’Afrique du Sud.

︎ anais.lepage1[@]
︎ anais_lepage
︎ english / français

French CV
English bio