Name: Mbongisani Bhekokuhle Dube
P.O.B: Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Location: Cape Town
Projects: F8rever& Ours
Mbongisani was inspired to pursue art seriously because it was not really a thing when he was growing up in the city of Bulawayo. He joined a collective of twenty other young people from different age groups who wanted to grow and normalise art. “People liked art but not enough to want to actually do it, for some reason it was always something the people a from the art gallery did and not something an ordinary young person could pursue.”
Coming from the city of Bulawayo inspires his art a great deal as he describes the essence of Bulawayo as the main inspiration for his art, that calmness and unity that cannot be found in any other place. The city of Bulawayo directly inspired the Sm8ke City comic which is literally a play on words from the name ‘KoNtuthu Ziyathunqa’. The comic tells a story of a city that has been stripped of its riches leaving the inhabitants living aimlessly’. Sm8ke City is a tower that was obliterated which is a representation of how Bulawayo was once the industrial hub of Zimbabwe but eventually became KoNtuthu Ziyathunqa not because of the factories but because of the shortage of electricity that resulted in most people depending on firewood for energy. Sm8ke city attempts to imagine what it would be like to rebuild the city and restore it to its former glory.
“We continued to make art because we wanted to make something beautiful from our stories no matter how heart breaking they are.”
– Mbongisani Dube
“We grew up telling our stories in an abstract manner, thus the play on words and the use of cartoons, stars and fairy tales. We continued to make art because we wanted to make something beautiful from our stories no matter how heartbreaking they are.”
The main character in the comics is Crazy Animal and Mbongisani describes this as a reflection of his own spirit, it comes from the ethos of being the type of artist that disrupts the narrative and spaces. He relates this to how he managed to disrupt spaces in Cape Town that only catered to a certain racial demographic and made it difficult for artists like him to enter main stream galleries. He did this by not only becoming a mobile gallery by setting up his exhibitions in unconventional places but he started OURS; a space for young artists to co – work and showcase their work. OURS will allow young people to exhibit their art on their own terms in a city where there are certain ideas that still make people uncomfortable and thus result in certain art being left out of the narrative. His vision is to not only exhibit Sm8ke City one day in his home town Bulawayo but to create a local OURS for young artists in the city.
See more of his artwork at https://www.f8rever.com/
Follow him on instagram at ours.space and til_f8rever
Photography: Zweli Bukhwele