Thobeka Bhengu

Thobeka Bhengu is a performance artist, activist, photographer, choreographer and a theatre director.

She was born at Inanda, Durban, Kwa-Zulu Natal.

She is the founder and artistic director of H27 Productions, an arts advocacy movement.

She studied Drama & Performance Studies; where she performed in productions such as William

Shakespeare’s Mid-Summer Night’s Dream directed by Paul Datlen, Tortoises’ Dream directed by

Ntokozo Madlala, The Beatles & Young Gifted and Gorgeous(Musicals) directed by Peter Mitchell.

She first performed on a professional stage in 2011 at the Jomba Contemporary Dance Festival

(Fringe) in two works by Mandisa Roelene Haarhoff and Zenzelisphesihle “Sparky” Xulu.

In 2013 she moved to Cape Town and joined the Earth Child project as a volunteer, teaching drama

and contemporary dance.

After her first tour in 2014 to Swaziland and Zimbabwe with a production titled Sound Gaze: Moving

Images of Marie in Woyzeck, directed by Juanita Chitepo, she decided to dedicate her career to

creating work that moves people, a platform for dialogues and work that addresses social ills,

injustices and violence directed towards marginalized people, specifically focusing on the LGBTI+

community, women and the youth.

In 2015 she choreographed a production for the Jomba Contemporary Dance Festival (Fringe) with

the Rainbow Theatre Group. In the same year, she launched her first photography exhibition that

represented and captured from a different eye, a series of well-known hate crime cases in South

Africa and original stories of LGBTI+ people around Pietermaritzburg, through the use of

photography and performance art. This exhibition supported by the Gay & Lesbian Network (GLN)

became part of the Pink Mynah Festival Film & Arts Exhibition. She worked as an Artistic Director

of the Rainbow Theatre Group for two years, under GLN where she created several artistic and

advocacy work with a group of ten LGBTI+ youth.

She has created several works such as Ab/normal, The Moustache, My Body, My Life, My Decisions;

Reality Check: Living Vulnerable lives; Breaking Dawn, Churches & Homophobia and Ibala to name

a few.

In 2016 she was one of the artists who collaborated with Sir Zanele Muholi, an internationally

renowned visual activist, in USA Ohio Cincinnati at the Foto Focus Biennale 2016 and at the South

African National Art Gallery in Cape Town, under the ICA Live Art Fellowship that was awarded to

Muholi.

In July 2017 she performed at the Autograph ABP, Rivington Place (London) at Muholi’s solo

exhibition titled Somnyama Ngonyama and she performed in the MTV Base Women’s’ month

content titled #Seeher in August 2017. In November 2017 She was part of the collective that went to

support Sir Zanele Muholi in New York, the USA at the Performa Biennial 2017. She collaborated

with other artists at Performa 17, in support of Zanele Muholi's solo exhibition titled Somnyama

Ngonyama.

In September 2018 she co-facilitated photography training for young women in Pietermaritzburg,

Kwazulu-Natal under the Photo Experience Project (Photo XP) organized by Inkanyiso media and

Zanele Muholi with Thembela Terra Dick and Lerato Dumse as facilitators.

In December 2018 she was part of the facilitators for the Mobile School of Photography under the

Photo Experience Project in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal which is still ongoing. In the same December,

she collaborated with Annalyzer and Genius Illusion in a performance at the Somnyama Ngonyama

Book Celebration in Durban, KZN.

In January 2019 she was part of the Photo XP 2019 facilitation team in Lesotho, Maseru. In March

2019 was part of the team documenting the Yithi Laba Exhibition, the Free State Arts Symposium

2019 Queer Edition and Free State Pride. She is currently a volunteer for Inkanyiso.org under the

mentorship of Sir Zanele Muholi. She is currently curating Ikhono LaseNatali -Somnyama Ngonyama

Interpreted showing from 08 May until 02 June 2019 at KZNSA gallery; in May she travelled to New

York to support Muholi at the Amref Art Ball honouring Muholi with a Rees Visionary Award and

later attended the Venice Biennale 2019 Italy, Venice to support Muholi and visit numerous galleries

to harness their curatorial skills and learn about different visual artistic expressions.

Exhibitions at the KZNSA

IKHONO LASENATALI