Born in Kwanza-Sul, Angola (b. 1982), Tuli Mekondjo is a self-taught artist based in Windhoek, Namibia. Mekondjo’s biography traces a significant trajectory through a particularly painful narrative in Namibia’s recent past. Unlike South Africa, Namibia has never recognised the need for a process of truth and reconciliation following its independence in 1990, and deep divisions, rooted in prejudice, fear and tribal loyalties still linger into the present. 28 years on, and ‘children born ‘in exile’ and the socalled ‘GDR-kids’ continue to be stigmatised and discriminated based on their ‘foreign’ status, as opposed to those who remained in the country during the struggle for independence.
Tuli-Mekondjo’s work is Janus-faced. It looks forward whilst looking backward. In it she records fragments of post- traumatic experiences brought upon by many disorders, displacements, both internal and physical. These traumas and their legacies are intergenerational carried from generation to generation and permanently logged within our systems: “for every new change our memories and mental mapping shift alongside in order to adapt. In so doing we look at the past to find the way forward, through the lines that our ancestors traced before us. The lines represent ancestors, roots of souls moulded from the soil, of their survival spirit which still beats like a pulse deep within our souls and the ground of the earth.”
She works consistently at her practice and is unafraid to experiment in different mediums, creating seemingly playful work, but which remains rooted in her particular identity as an Oukwanyama woman and research into her heritage. Her recent work mixes collage, paint, resin and mahangu meal - a Namibian food staple and extends into performance.
Tuli-Mekondjo exhibited photographs with the Collective at the Art Market Budapest in 2016 and also held a major solo show “The Bellowing Mind” at the Franco-Namibian Cultural Centre in 2016, described as ‘a very personal vision of the mind, trauma and unresolved pain’. Most recently, she has been involved in the Future Africa Visions in Time Exhibition: a collaboration between the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies, Iwalewahaus Bayreuth and the Goethe-Institut Namibia.