Equations for a Body at Rest
1 July to 8 August 2022
Project Launch: Digbeth First Friday 1 July, 6–8pm
Johannesburg-based painter and filmmaker Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi presents a multi-site video and multimedia artwork titled Equations for a Body at Rest, which tracks the history and symbolic presentation of the Commonwealth Games (and, by association, of the Commonwealth body itself) from its genesis in empire to the current day.
Has the changing public face of the Games corresponded to equivalent changes at an anatomical level? And what are the implications for all those participating in the Games today?
Equations for a Body at Rest has two components, The Same Track and The Name Game with each constituent part working in concert with the other. Together they form a public work in video, print and online. Spread across the city within community groups, large screens, posters and billboards Nkosi’s works speak to bodies put through the institutional exploitations and desires of a white Commonwealth geo-political-industrial complex.
The Same Track is a new video work playing on screens around the city, using archival footage of black athletes at rest or resistance – cut together moments throughout Commonwealth Games history. The videos symbolically juxtapose how the makeup of the participants in the games have changed over time while the physical structures around them remain constant.
The Name Game takes the form of a series of street posters placed on six prominent billboard sites throughout the city. Each poster, reminiscent of historical Games posters such as the style of the 1938 “Empire Games”, has been redrawn and painted by Nkosi to tell of the current Games here in Birmingham.
Audiences can participate in a quiz designed to provoke a reaction by encountering historical information about the games including via QR Codes. This provocative intervention aims to create an interactive space online where there is room for discussion and response. To examine our complex histories like this is powerful in establishing a sense of real community in the present, and laying the foundations for a more equitable future.
The Same Track: Festival Live Sites:
(in rotation daily throughout the games)
Digbeth First Friday, 5 August, 6–8pm
The Same Track: Community Screening Micro-Festival
In collaboration with Bertz Associates
The Name Game
Monday 11 July – Sunday 24 July, available 24/7 at:
– Barford Street Right, 10 Barford Street, B5 6AG
– Custard Factory Carpark, High Street Deritend, B9 4AA
– Chester Road Station, Erdington Chester Road, B73 5JS
– Bradford Street, Digbeth, Bradford Street Canal, B12 0QY
– Bristol Road, Selly Oak, 676 Bristol Road, B29 6BJ
– Golden Hillock Road, Small Heath, 245 Golden Hillock Road, B11 2PJ
Alongside projects by Amy Ching-Yan Lam, Rajni Perera and Jon McCurley, Thenjiwe’s project is part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival. This programme is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England, Canada House, Canada Council for the Arts and British Council.
Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi (b.1980, New York) was raised in New York, Harare and Johannesburg, where she now lives. She obtained her BA from Harvard University and her MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. Nkosi divides her time between studio work, performance, and navigating the field of art as social practice. Her first solo exhibition with Stevenson, Gymnasium, took place in 2020 in Johannesburg.
Recent solo exhibitions include; Gymnasium, Stevenson, Johannesburg, South Africa (2020), The Beginning of Stories (part 1 of Many), Seedspace Gallery, Nashville, Tennessee, USA (2017). Recent group and collaborative shows include; Mixed Company at the Norval Foundation, Cape Town, South Africa (2021); FIVE, We Buy Gold, New York (2020); Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From, Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, (2020); That’s What She Said, Constitution Hill, Johannesburg (2019); Lost Lover, Rampa, Porto, Portugal (2019); About Face, Stevenson, Cape Town (2018); Nkosi is the recipient of the Philippe Wamba Prize in African Studies (2004), and the Tollman Award for the Visual Arts (2019).