Nicodim celebrated Thania Petersen in the first solo exhibition in the States titled ZAMUNDA FOREVER. The gallery hosted an opening art party on August 5, 2023. However, the exhibition runs through September 9, 2023.

Nicodim Thania Petersen

The exhibition is divided into three bodies of intricately embroidered narrative textiles. 1. covering her family’s history, 2. their present-day life as seen from the outside, then finally 3. portrayals of their familial dynamic in more personal settings. Juxtaposed against one another, the three series are an honest depiction of how the journey that brought the artist’s people to South Africa resulted in a separation of selves that exist symbiotically to construct a new cohesive and contemporary identity.

Rampie and Layer, 2023, and The Tide Spits, 2023

These two pieces that comprise the first body of work, speak of the artist’s ancestral routes that led her people to South Africa. Through symbols evocative of Sufi ceremonies and mythologies intrinsic to the culture, the textiles colorfully encompass tales of empire, forced migration across the Indian Ocean, the spice trade, royals, love, loss, and exiles of the past.

“Zamundafication” of Afric

The second series cheekily toys with what Petersen calls the “Zamundafication” of Africa. Zamunda is the fictional African nation from which Eddie Murphy’s character hails in the 1988 film Coming to America. In these large-scale works, the artist reckons with the hyper-commercialization of her native continent. This includes the semi-truthfulness of the signifiers both Westerners and Africans use to market themselves to one another. For example, her sons cosplay as Ninja Turtles, gorge themselves on fast food and candy, and sprint through themed waterparks dressed in Vans and Adidas. Specifically, the textiles challenge Hollywood stereotypes of Africa.  Thus confronting ideas both homegrown and imported from abroad that dictate what it means to be African.

Petersen’s Family at Home

The third group of works are comprised of smaller-scale, intimate portraits of Petersen’s family at home—sincere, touching moments of life behind closed doors, which could take place in any country or continent. Bicycle, 2023, Family, 2023, and Cake, 2023 are tender snapshots that would be at home in any family photo album. Petersen’s family is your family, her home is yours.

aken together, ZAMUNDA FOREVER, like Petersen herself, embodies the plural histories, spiritualities, sonorities, and cultures of the Afrasiatic Sea. Also everpresent: the universal and readily identifiable signs of a family and community that lives, laughs, and loves with one another.

On view: August 5, 2023 – September 9, 2023

What: ZAMUNDA FOREVER, Thania Petersen
Where: Nicodim Gallery Los Angeles, 1700 S Santa Fe Avenue, #160,  LA, 90021 
When: Running through September 9, 2023

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