A lovely series about elite gymnastics and the particular space of the gymnasium by artist Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi. While Nkosi’s interest originated with the aesthetics and architecture of the arena, her focus gradually expanded to the gymnasts — performers whose position in the public imagination she started to see as not unlike that of an artist as they are figures similarly subjected to intense scrutiny, the rigorous processes of expression, and the demands of form. Her sense of identification and dedicated research eventually developed into a collection of paintings exploring one of the aspects of gymnastics she found most affecting: the precarious position of Black gymnasts. Operating within an historically-white sport, the subjects of Nkosi’s work are specifically those forced to navigate not only their talent but the politicization of their bodies.
“I am not particularly interested therefore in showing the gymnasts at peak moments of athleticism. Rather, I want to investigate the moments preceding and following the execution of a move, foregrounding the complexities of performance that mostly escape public notice. Shifting focus away from the binary of success and defeat, I want to spotlight their humanity in the constant, back-and-forth shifts between bystander and performer, youth and labourer, person and demigod.”
See more images from “Gymnasium” below.