Taking the reference of tumbleweed as a metaphor, Hlobo's new artwork explores the materiality of copper piping, as both sculptural and linear drawing in space. Small, recognizable objects are attached to larger entangled shapes, which shift the original function and meaning to a place outside of immediate comprehension.
The artist's interest in language and the deliberate choice in using his mother tongue, isiXhosa, in titling his work connects to an ongoing interest in skillfully guiding viewers on a journey, letting understanding and reading of his work slip in and out of translation and legibility. The title of the exhibition "Unyukelo" translates directly as "The Ladder" in isiXhosa, which also means ascension. For Hlobo, the connotation is not so much about religion, but more broadly refers to a change in state of consciousness. The artist also articulates an interest in the process of getting lost as a way toward a deeper understanding of one’s environment and place within it. This becomes an apt metaphor of both the process in the artist’s studio while making, as well as a way of navigating and experiencing his installation.
"Unyukelo" is part of SCAD deFINE ART 2019, held Feb. 26–28 at university locations in Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia.