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Issue 201

Questionnaire: Nicholas Hlobo

Q: What do you wish you knew? A: I wish I understood the working of the cosmos in relation to us here on Earth

BY Nicholas Hlobo in Interviews , Questionnaires | 21 FEB 19

Chris Ofili, Shithead, 1993. Courtesy: © Chris Ofili and David Zwirner, New York

What images keep you company in the space where you work?

The fixed image of a few spiritual sculptures I own, as well as the ever changing image of my garden.

What was the first piece of art that really mattered to you?

One of Louise Bourgeois’s Spider sculptures (1996). I say that, but only because the piece which really moved me was by an artist whose name I don’t know. I saw it as a student during the second Johannesburg Biennale in 1997. The artist was from elsewhere in Africa; he had a banana installation in one room as well as banana skins on his canvases.

If you could live with only one piece of art what would it be?

Shithead (1993) by Chris Ofili.

What is your favourite title of an artwork?

Carrie Mae Weems’s caption for Mirror, Mirror (1987): ‘Looking into the mirror, the black woman asked, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the finest of them all?” The mirror says, “Snow White, you black bitch, and don’t you forget it!!!”’

What should change?

People’s obsession with greed.

What should stay the same?

Honesty and compassion.

What could you imagine doing if you didn’t do what you do?

I could imagine myself as a linguist or an architect.

What music are you listening to?

Elliot Moss.

What are you reading?

Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone (1968) by James Baldwin.

What is art for?

Art is for all sorts of different things for different people.

This article first appeared in frieze issue 201 with the headline ‘Questionnaire: Nicholas Hlobo’

Nicholas Hlobo is an artist based in Johannesburg, South Africa. His solo exhibition at SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, USA, is on view until July.