Award-winning artist Banele Khoza has been on our radar for some time. The owner of BKhz in Braamfontein uses the open studio and gallery space to exhibit not only his own work but that of other young artists, photographers and, most recently, fashion designers, from around the country.
With his latest exhibition Zeitgeist, Khoza contemplates the future of fashion by way of looking at the present, using the voices of local designers. The pastel-coloured BKhz space is filled with pieces of clothing from Thebe Magugu, Nao Serati, [NOTHING], Siyababa, Zazi Luxury, Kentse Masilo, AMEN by Brad + Abiah, Unknown and Long Season.
Each piece or outfit is displayed in a unique manner, giving local designers a platform for visitors to interact with the pieces in new and interesting ways. For example, Magugu’s dresses are displayed on straw mannequins and [NOTHING]’s installation includes a five-step experience which invites visitors to put on a bomber jacket, step in front of a mirror, pick a fortune and say it out loud.
Considering his longstanding love of fashion and design, this probably won’t be the last time Khoza brings fashion into the world of art. Khoza speaks to Nothemba Mkhondo about the exhibition.
Tell me a little bit about the show. I wanted to speak about the future of fashion and you can't speak about the future when you haven't addressed the present. I was curious about the narratives of designers. And also looking at the fact that a lot of them don't have physical studios like I do, where their work can be accessed by the public immediately, so I thought maybe let's create a space for that.
And also looking at fashion shows … yes, you sit at a fashion show, and it's like five minutes, and then after you can't engage with the clothes. So, it was also the fact that [at this exhibition] you actually can - or just spend a bit more time with the clothes – that, for me, was important. And that's how Zeitgeist came about.
Have you always had an interest in fashion? All my life I thought I'd be a fashion designer. But I didn't know that it was actually fashion illustration that I was really interested in. So, having studied fashion, and also having friends in the fashion world, it has always kept my interest.
Why did you choose these particular designers? They are cutting-edge designers and I think they need space. They are the voices of the current Zeitgeist; you can't say that encapsulates the whole Zeitgeist because there are so many other designers. Some of the designers I knew personally and some of them were introduced to me by friends. But it really came down to the fact that I had an immediate connection to their work.
How did you curate this show? There was a lot of presence from my side as a curator, because it almost had to coexist among the other exhibitions that we've done, but it was also a matter of, “How do we take it up to the next level?” We waited for every piece to arrive before we began installing because everything had to be placed according to where it would best be highlighted.
In terms of installation – I haven't seen this in retail and I don't want to see this in retail. I want spaces like this, or studios for the designers, where they can push the benchmark of access to fashion and also the experience of fashion.
Having a space like this so early in your career is a big deal. What are you trying to say with BKhz and its exhibitions? My original intention for the space was to create a home, meaning it's a space that’s warm enough for people to engage with whatever exists inside. Our door is always open, so anyone can come in, there's no filter or barrier to that. I think that access is very important.
• Zeitgeist is on show at BKhz Gallery until August 24 2019.