Artist Profile – Tabita Rezaire

Published on 2018-02-21

Artwork featured in the salon:'Premium Connect' (2017) Single-channel moving image with audio, Duration: 13:00.

Tabita Rezaire (b. 1989) is a Paris-born digital artist based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her work investigates the impact of hierarchies embedded in technological systems on sexuality and spirituality, and the effort towards decolonization. More precisely, her work seeks to draw links between different spiritual practices and the artist’s own personal experiences as a call to action against the hegemonic frameworks of the digital era. Her video “Sorry for Real” (2015) imagines the Western world asking to be forgiven for colonization through an iPhone call that can be ignored or blocked. In an interview with Huck, Rezaire explained, “my practice is one of healing our historical memory and recovering from manufactured amnesia.”

In 2017, Rezaire held her first solo exhibition, “Exotic Trade,” at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg, in which she deployed a form of “digital healing activism” that envisioned decolonized technologies through which we can “holistically connect to ourselves, to one another, to the earth, and to the multiverse.” The mixture of digital portraiture and video installation involved a chaotic assault of internet signifiers –  stacked YouTube browsers, fragmented sound-clips, and pop-up windows. Water, memory, and maternity were also dominant themes of the show. Rezaire explored the effects of technology on ecology, the evolution of patriarchy, and methods of historical erasure. The show also incorporated a “healing soundscape” in collaboration with the artists FAKA, Hlasko, and Chi. 

Rezaire’s recent video work “Hoetep Blessings” (2016) develop intersectional themes that dominate her practice. Here, she explores the meaning of the word “hotep,” which refers to “inner peace” in Egyptian. However, the term has been adapted by black men in communities that claim to champion black issues through asserting traditional values that exclude the perspectives and voices of black feminist and queer resistance. Gyrating at the center of the video as she discloses these tensions, Rezaire reclaims the digital arena as a space for feminine and sexual expression. 

Rezaire is a founding member of the artist group NTU and runs the creative agency Malaxa alongside Alicia Mersy. The agency provides Non Euro-Centric  art direction, digital imaging, and video production services. It also serves as a network of artists challenging Western, male-oriented visual power structures. 

Rezaire has presented her work internationally, most recently, at the House of Electronic Arts Basel in Switzerland, the ICA in London, Goethe Institute in South Korea, Gertrude Contemporary in Melbourne and ZKM Karlsruhe in Germany. Her videos have also been screened at the Victor and Albert Museum in London, and the National Gallery of Denmark, and her performances programmed at Performa in New York, and the Enter Afrofuturism Festival in Athens. She has also received grants from numerous art institutions across Europe. 

Artwork courtesy Goodman Gallery and the Artist.

Artist bio written by Arshy Azizi for The Current.