ArtX Presents Narcissism  

Lethokuhle Msimang -- September 18, 2017

Illustrated by Chisom Onyishi, Written and narrated by Lethokuhle Msimang 

Beijing has been a transformative experience regarding my outlook on collaborations. Initially, having recently obtained my diploma in Literary Studies and Creative Arts, I arrived with a somewhat pompous attitude. I frowned at the thought of having to immerse myself in organizations such as Africa 2.0, Black Gen, and several other initiatives which aimed to promote artists by hosting crossed genre events. I had unwittingly come to assume; that Africans in particular, had an obsession with theatrics and the subject of melanin, soil and grass. I was essentially conservative. I had a traditional or better western approach to literature. I believed myself superior in that regard, suffocating my art in that “sunken place”, and that has most certainly changed. 


I was first approached by the photographer and poet BlackChenn to participate in ArtX, which aimed to showcase “the application of human creative skill and imagination through film, paint, sculpture, photography, motion, sound and poetry all in the name of fear”, the idea was to express this theme through negative “isms” i.e, narciss(ism), rac(ism), sex(ism), and considering my former inclination toward the creative arts I figured narcissism would be the most fitting theme for me to express. 


While on the subject of collaboration, I had the privilege of working with Chisom Onyishi, a young graphic illustrator who has since familiarized me with the craft of digitalized art, Adding to her channel Sovemba, where she records her process of digital rendering, we thought to combine our interests and present an experimental showcase. The result of which was a narration of my poetry over her interpretation of the piece. This collaboration has birthed, what I believe to be the foundation of a long lasting friendship.