Zenaéca Singh

South Africa

About the Artist

Zenaéca Singh’s work explores the complex history of the sugar economy in South Africa and its entanglement with exploitative labour practices, migration, colonialism, and the dynamics of the domestic sphere. Working across painting, sculpture and installation, Singh interrogates the largely state-produced archive of images and text related to indentured South African Indians in the period 1860 – 1911.

Her current work translates this archival material into image sequences and alluring sculptures made from molasses and sugar in different states of solidity and fluidity.  

Her sculptures of melting sugar ships recall the fluid connection between India and South Africa across the Indian Ocean, a relationship fortified by Britain’s colonisation of both countries in the late 19th Century. Fixed in resin, frozen in a state of perpetual transition and collapse, these ships evoke the temporal suspension of the archive: it is both fluid and static, borne of the past and unresolved in the present and future.

Singh’s work uses domestic objects and scenarios to contextualise her sculptures and painting, tracing connections between the sugar economy and its impacts on domestic culture and conventions for South African Indians. Singh acknowledges the gendered history of the home space, both within her specific research frame and more broadly, situating her own making and identity in relation to this history. 

An MFA candidate at the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Michaelis School of Fine Art, where she received multiple awards for her BA degree in Fine Art. Singh is also a UCT Accelerated Transformation of the Academic Programme (ATAP) Fellow. She has exhibited her work in Cape Town at the Michaelis School of Fine Art (2022), at the Slave Lodge, in collaboration with the Association of Visual Arts (2023), and at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair (2023) as part of an intervention by Church Projects. She has also shown her work in Johannesburg as part of Fresh Voices at Guns & Rain (2022) and with Turbine Art Fair as part of TAF Paper (2023). 

Exhibitions

  • 2024 DECADE : 10 Years of Guns & Rain (group exhibition), Johannesburg
  • 2024 Investec Cape Town Art Fair with Guns & Rain, Cape Town
  • 2023 Us, two-person exhibition with Bougaard, Guns & Rain
  • 2023 Greatest Hits: The Leeuwenhof Slave Quarters Remembrance Gallery 4th Iteration with AVA, Investec Cape Town Art fair Anti-Booth
    Turbine Art Fair Paper.
  • 2022 Tracing the Home, Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town
  • 2022 Fresh Voices, Guns & Rain, Johannesburg
  • 2022 Smoke & Ash: The Jagger Library Memorial Exhibition, University of Cape Town

Collections

  • Amawal Collection, Spain
  • ARAK Collection, Qatar

Grants, Residencies and Awards

  • 2023 Accelerated Transformation of the Academic Programme (ATAP) Fellowship
  • 2022 Simon Gerson Prize, Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town
  • 2022 Dean Merit List, Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town
  • 2021 Deans Merit List, Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town
  • 2019 Buntman Family Achievement Award
  • 2018 Top Performing Student in Visual Arts in Gauteng District

Selected Works

A memory forever recalled

2024
Molasses painting on sugar paste, coated in resin
10.5 x 15 cm

Pose

2024
Collage, sugar glass and resin on MDF
21 x 29.7 x 3 cm

To a new Beginning

2024
Collage, sugar glass and resin on MDF
21 x 29.7 cm

Family Vacation: Part One

2024
Molasses, sugar paste and resin
9 x 8.5 cm

High Tea

2023
Sugar, clay and resin
24 x 23 x 23 cm

the beginning

2022
Sugar and resin
13.5 x 21 x 9 cm

the S.S Truro

2022
Sugar and resin
17 x 23 x 10 cm

Strength

2022
Molasses on Sugar Paste
12 x 9 cm

sweet sisters

2022
Molasses on Sugar Paste
12 x 9 cm

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