6 February - 9 March 2024

Hales is delighted to announce,  SIDA | ÔANA MÂPA HÂ? WHERE ARE OUR CHILDREN? AN ODE TO THE SPIRITS OF THE SOUTH,  Namibian artist Tuli Mekondjo's  (b.1982 Angola)  second solo exhibition with the gallery. Featuring a new body of mixed media work,  Mekondjo's richly multifaceted practice considers the sociohistorical context of Namibia as a site to re-evaluate and consider ideas around ancestry and identity,  honoring the people of Southern Namibia. During 2022-2023 Mekondjo was on the prestigious DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program and this year she is a 2024 Villa Romana Fellow, Florence.  Her work is included in the 2024 Dakar Biennial of contemporary African art. Mekondjo lives and works in Windhoek, Namibia.    


Known for her mixed media and embroidered works, Mekondjo's rigorous practice is a pursuit to connect with and celebrate her Namibian heritage.   Her  practice, which includes paintings, sculpture and performance, navigates feelings of displacement, having spent her childhood in refugee camps of Angola and Zambia during the Namibian War of Independence. In this exhibition she continues to sensitively bring history to the fore - drawing from archives allows Mekondjo to address, question, and heal parts of this past, deftly weaving personal and collective trauma with beauty, nature and optimism.   


Rooted in women's stories, this new body of work centers on research into the Southern part of Namibia. Mekondjo specifies locations in titling works after settlements renamed by colonizers, notably Gibeon - a place recognized for its contribution to the liberation of Namibia.  In the pivotal work Khâxatsûs (Gibeon) 1863,  the colorful patchwork piece highlights the important revolutionary figure Hendrik Witbooi, his family and his birthplace. Honoring the land and ancestors of the country, Mekondjo reimagines archival materials in poetic explorations.   


The title of the exhibition: SIDA | ÔANA MÂPA HÂ? WHERE ARE OUR CHILDREN? AN ODE TO THE SPIRITS OF THE SOUTH,  is written first in Khoekhoegowab - a Namibian language, which Mekondjo is learning to connect with fellow Namibians. Encapsulating this body of work,  SIDA | ÔANA MÂPA HÂ? / WHERE ARE OUR CHILDREN? is  a critical contemporaneous question which is asked of the current government, The South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) and the colonial leaders, the Kaiser, Lothar Von Trotha and the architect of Apartheid, Henrik  Vervoerd. Many Southern Namibian young people who joined SWAPO in Angola during the Liberation Struggle never returned. In a protest piece,  SWAPO, sida ǀôana mâpa hâ? / SWAPO, where are our children?  - Mekondjo includes the names of young people who died. The work venerates the young people that are no longer here whilst looking to the future children and mothers in Namibia.    


In wall hangings she transfers historic images as well as plants in alchemical processes onto intricate patchwork tapestries. Layering embroidered elements, beads, lace, copper and found objects, creates dimension and imbues narrative significance to each work. White lace softens the subject matter, allowing the viewer to appreciate the beauty of those memorialized. 

Installation Views