donna Kukama is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice engages performance art as a tool for creative research. Her work presents institutions, monuments, gestures of protest, rumors, and fleeting moments that are as real as they are fictitious. Shifting between performance, video, text, sound, and multimedia installations, her practice takes on a form that is experimental, applying methods that are deliberately undisciplined. She uses performance as a strategy that allows her to invent as well as to apply methods that are outside the canon of what is predictable or expected. She questions how histories are narrated and subverts how value systems are constructed, often centering methods perspectives that originate from the Global South. Through her practice, she weaves major with minor aspects of histories, introducing fragile and brief moments of ‘strangeness’ within sociopolitical settings. Her performances are to be understood as gestures of poetry with a political intent and an urgent need to destabilize existing canons regarding the ways we look at reality. For Kukama, performance becomes a strategy for inserting foreign ‘undocumented’ voices and presences into history by occupying sites and territories that remember less-told stories.
Kukama has exhibited and presented performances at several notable institutions and museums, including the Tate Modern in London; Nottingham Contemporary in Nottingham; Padiglione de’Arte Contemporanea Milano in Milan; South African National Gallery in Cape Town; Museum of Modern Art in Antwerp; nGbK in Berlin; and the New Museum in New York. She has participated in, among others, the 10th Berlin Biennale; the 57th Belgrade Biennale; 12th Lyon Biennale; the 6th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art; 32nd Bienal de São Paulo; 3rd New Museum Triennale; 1st Stellenbosch Triennale; 8th Berlin Biennale and the 55th Venice Biennale (as part of the South African Pavilion). She was the 2014 recipient of the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Performance Art in South Africa, and nominated for the 2010 MTN New Contemporaries Award in South Africa.
For the past ten years (2011-2021), she has held the post of lecturer in the Visual Arts Department at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. She was recently a guest Professor at the Braunschweig University of Art (HBK Braunschweig) in Germany (2019-2020), and is a visiting artist for the Work.Master programme at the Academy of Art and Design, Geneva (HEAD Genève) in Switzerland (2021-2023). Kukama obtained a Masters in Art in the Public Sphere (MAPS) from Ecole Cantonale d’Arts du Valais in Switzerland, and she will complete her PhD in creative research at the University of Plymouth, UK.