Vumelani Sibeko

Born in Apartheid South Africa in the township of Soweto in 1975, Vumelani's child hood and family history was marked by racial tension. His father who had escaped plantation labor found refuge in Johannesburg only to be forced to take on the last name Buthelezi, by the government's Group Area Act which was designed to restrict Black South Africans' freedom. In 2008, Vumelani took on his father's actual last name, Sibeko. These experiences have deeply impacted his work as a visual and performance artist. His work and activism analyzes and promotes awareness about issues including HIV/AIDS, child and domestic abuse, human trafficking, xenophobia and slavery. He is most known for his shocking publick performances , paintings and prints that provoke dialogue about subjects dear to his heart. Sibeko believes he has a duty to educate through his artwork and considers himself as a healer who uses art to mend broken souls and fearful hearts.

He is a graduate of Vaal University of Technology where he gained deeper insight into racism and politics as he says “You were constantly reminded that you are Black." In 2005 Vumelani had his first exhibition with the Mofolo Arts Centre . He has since exhibited in numerous exhibitions in South Africa, Swaziland and New York. In 2012 he came to New York as an inbound fellow with Apex Art. During his stay he was inspired by the city and determined to make his way back. In 2014 he returned with an ambitious solo project entitled “Get On The Bridge" which included creating a series of paintings in and inspired by various parks in NYC.

These works garnered several exhibitions in New York along side artists including Otto Neals, Dr. Izell Glove, James Hoston, Thabiso Phokompe and more. Recent exhibitions include “Power, Protest, and Resistance | The Art of Revolution", September 2015, Rush Philantropic Arts Foundation and the Skylight Gallery at Restoration Brooklyn New York, “{re}Drawing the Lines: An Homage to Street Art", April 2015, Brooklyn, New York, “Studio Gangsters and Street Scenes", March 2015, Kalahari Gallery, Brooklyn New York, “Harlem Fine Arts Show", February 2014, New York, New York, “Where is the New Key?", November 2014 performance with Tikhonova & Wintner Fine Art Gallery New York, New York, “SYMBOLS OF SPIRITS” (Celebrate Africa Month) October 2014 Borough Hall Brooklyn New York. Thousands of passerby and millions more online have witnessed Vumelani Sibeko's painful performances where he channels ancestral spirits by walking the streets, nearly naked, hauling fifty-five pounds of iron ball, chains and shackles. The weight impedes his steps, and drags him, personifying the realities of slavery past and present. His apparent suffering and realism within this body of work has been compared to that of Marina Abramovic. Sibeko seeks to push audiences to revisit these atrocities by walking a few miles in the tracks of those who have been kidnapped, captured & held in physical, mental and emotional slavery for generations.

The moving gallery of a slave in chains symbolizes the struggle of slavery's oppressive legacy.

To date he has executed this performance in South Africa and New York.