Artists We Love: Oupa Sibeko

WORDS Celeste Jacobs


The durational performance, Black is Blue, began in 2019 anchored to the traditional use of ocean water for healing. The latest iteration sees Oupa Sibeko explore the notion of an inland sea as a vessel that transports our collective thoughts to the more familiar concept of the occupation of urban spaces.

As an artist whose name is steadily growing synonymous with performance art and body politics, Oupa’s thought-provoking work creates a deeper sense of understanding of societal issues. Nominated in 2019 as one of the Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans, Oupa continues to make waves, thanks to his contribution to art, education and the wealth of information sharing his work holds. His latest body of work, Black is Blue began in 2019 and the durational performance keeps evolving.

Oupa Sibeko

From Thursday, 3 June to Sunday, 20 June 2021, Oupa will be performing at Nel in Cape Town. His opening performance runs from 5pm – 8-pm, Tuesdays to Fridays from 10am to 5pm and Saturdays from 10am to 2pm. In the caption, Oupa says, “I’m scared but also excited by the task that lies ahead of me but I wouldn’t do it if it was easy and if I didn’t need to do this for my well being, for my healing but more importantly to play and share the same water. Come and cross with me but more importantly come and let’s share water. Our DNA is Black is Blue. Our history is Blue. Humanity is Blue. Black is Blue.

The 17 day long performance is set to explore the cultural and traditional significance of ocean water. The public is invited, with COVID-19 protocols in place, to become immersed in a sensory exploration that sees Oupa lying across two deck-chairs with four fish hooks attached to his back. The room is lit in a blue light and the floor, laden with sea salt. In its essence, Oupa’s durational performance is a call to humanity to repair wounds, stay grounded and heal by returning to the sea. Additionally, Oupa’s work holds multiple layers that are bound to delight and inspire thoughts that extend beyond the confines of land.

Keep up with the latest from Oupa on Instagram and visit Nel gallery’s website to find out more.