Musa N. Nxumalo

At the Art Gallery of New South Wales & Campbelltown Arts Centre

By Biennale of Sydney

22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN

Moonchild Sanelly - Anthology of Youth (2016) by Musa N NxumaloBiennale of Sydney

About the artist


Musa N. Nxumalo
Born 1986 in Soweto, South Africa
Lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa

Are the fees gonna fall or nah? Are the fees gonna fall or nah? (2017) by Musa N NxumaloBiennale of Sydney

Musa N. Nxumalo has been steadily developing a unique visual vocabulary that delicately balances his interests in social documentary and fine art photography. To this end, he astutely employs the black and white ‘film’ construct in images that courageously consider and capture the appearances and experiences of contemporary black South African youth. This results in a photographic oeuvre that oscillates between great empathetic intimacy and journalistic distance with unmissable humanity.

Untitled 5 - Abantu Bethu; sigxagxa I - 16 Shots; and Amanda Awezitabane! - Abantu Bethu Untitled 5 - Abantu Bethu; sigxagxa I - 16 Shots; and Amanda Awezitabane! - Abantu Bethu (2017/2020) by Musa N NxumaloBiennale of Sydney

At Cambelltown Arts Centre

Rather than defining spaces, such as clubs and protests, as different worlds, artist Musa N. Nxumalo chooses to capture the intimate in public movements of young people across collective spaces, often capturing a common spirit and energy.  

A raised fist and a strident walk down a catwalk, darkly lit club settings and collective movement to music or at a protest, Nxumalo often navigates spaces of both individual creative expression within dynamic collective gatherings, places of joy, resistance, and sharing space, his work becomes an archive of South African youth culture as it moves.

"I wanted to find a tool and a voice that would allow me to contribute to and transform critical and progressive narratives about my country and people. Visual arts and photography, in particular, became the vehicles that have given me the edge to make it happen."

- Musa N. Nxumalo

Click here to view Nxumalo's photographic works on the exterior of Campbelltown Arts Centre in 3D. 

Are the fees gonna fall or nah? Are the fees gonna fall or nah? (2017) by Musa N NxumaloBiennale of Sydney

At the Art Gallery of New South Wales

Inside the Art Gallery of New South Wales the energised photographs by Nxumalo are wallpapered across the entrance wall to the Grand Courts.

Moonchild Sanelly - Anthology of Youth (2016) by Musa N NxumaloBiennale of Sydney

They project a youthful vibrancy that is both infectious and transformative. The placement of these photographs is deliberate in acting to re-configure the space and energy of the ground floor of the Gallery, while also in dialogue with Barbara McGrady’s photographs across the room.

Navigate through the Art Gallery of New South Wales to explore the large scale photographic works of Musa N. Nxumalo and on the opposite wall, those by artist Barbara McGrady.

Capturing movement (2020)Biennale of Sydney

Keep exploring...

Learn to capture and consider movement with our bodies and the objects around us with this NIRIN at Home: Capturing Movement activity, inspired by Musa N. Nxumalo's work.

Credits: Story

Art Gallery of New South Wales 
Are the fees gonna fall or nah?, 2017, giclée print 
Moonchild Sanelly – Anthology of Youth, 2016, giclée print 

Campbelltown Arts Centre 

Untitled 5, - Abantu Bethu, 2020, photograph printed on polyester 
Isigxagxa I - 16 Shots, 2017, photograph printed on polyester 
Amanda Awezitabane! - Abantu Bethu, 2020, photograph printed on polyester 

Presented at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with generous assistance from the Sherman Foundation 
Courtesy the artist and SMAC Gallery, Cape Town / Johannesburg / Stellenbosch 

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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