Thania Petersen

Resident Artist - SA

I am addressing ‘identity’ in contemporary South Africa where we have too easily accepted the labels that apartheid and post apartheid have given us. I stake my claim to my lineage and through my work I am reclaiming our heritage as individual people with a history of our own.



Thania Petersen born in 1980 Cape Town, is a multi disciplinary artist whose discourses focus on photographic ‘self portraits’, installations and multi sensory based performance. A direct descendant of Tuan Guru  (an Indonesian Prince in the late 1700's brought to South Africa by the Dutch as a political exile), Petersen explores the universal themes of personal and historical identities by reconstructing herself in various guises ‘of what remain from our ancestors rituals and past in our lives today’.  From an intensely personal perspective as an Indonesian ‘Malay’ woman and mother, Petersen adopts a breath and diversity of theatrical personas – a mythological Queen, a  botanical Goddess to various personal reflections of her childhood growing up as a girl in a secular Muslim society. Her reference points include the history of African colonial imperialism, contemporary westernized consumer culture, her deeply personal Cape Malay heritage, and the legend and myths of Sufi Islamic religious ceremonies. 


Having studied at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art in London from 2001-2003, Petersen trained in both Zimbabwe (2004) and a year later in South Korea (with renowned Korean ceramist Hwang Yea Sook), she subsequently participated in the South Korean Ceramic Biennale that same year. From 2000-2007 Petersen remained the resident painter of props and costumes for the London based Yaa Asantewa Arts Group at the Notting Hill Gate Carnival, before settling back in Cape Town full time. In 2015 Thania has been featured with Brundyn+ at the Cape Town Art Fair and with the AVA at Johannesburg Art Fair, I AM ROYAL marked her first solo exhibition at the AVA Gallery in August on the same year. Her work is currently on show at The South African National Gallery And her upcoming new solo exhibition will be at the Everard Read Gallery space in Cape Town February 2017



Studio 12

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