Lungiswa Gqunta: Sleep in Witness

8 July – 30 October 2022

Forthcoming exhibition in our Main Galleries

Lungiswa Gqunta (b. 1990) is a South African sculptor who works across assemblage, installation, performance and printmaking.

This trailer shows an extract from Lungiswa Gqunta's video Gathering 2019. Courtesy the artist.


Sleep in Witness traces the intangible world of dreams as a space of learning where extraordinary, overlooked and discredited places of knowledge are illuminated. The exhibition includes two new installations, Zinodaka 2022 and Ntabamanzi 2022, along with the video Gathering 2019.


Gqunta examines the enclosures imposed upon African knowledge systems and sees this deprival as a symptom of colonial history and conquest. She positions dreams as a response to this curtailment and a space from which new languages, wisdoms and information for living emerge. 

The exhibition opens with Zinodaka 2022, an installation that considers the faith and belief systems of Black ancestors as spaces of knowledge and information. Its floor of cracked clay and sand is proof of something living, not necessarily human but something ancient. This landscape, along with glass rocks that appear like water, offer an appeal to consider sources of knowledge that have often disappeared, been cast aside or discredited as non-existent.  

One of the cruel legacies of the apartheid regime is the criminalisation of Black aquatic spiritual practices and the curtailment of water-based ways of acquiring knowledge in South Africa. Ntabamanzi 2022 is not a reaction to this brutality, but rather a display of a new consciousness and alterity — a state of being different or other — that exists in spite of this historical wound. Made from barbed wire wrapped in fabric, the installation fills the exhibition’s central gallery like a drawing in space with vast, wave-like forms. 

Gathering recalls the domestic act of folding sheets with maternal figures on a Sunday afternoon, an act that is part of Black oral traditions. The video is a contemplation of the moments in-between the motion of one sheet corner as it approaches another; the space where a curious question may be asked or information shared. As a child, the act of folding sheets became a time to access knowledge. Throughout this exhibition, Gqunta is persistent about one thing: ways of knowing. 


The texts accompanying this exhibition have been written by Nombuso Mathibela, a cultural worker, educator, writer, sound practitioner and vinyl collector based in Johannesburg.

About the artist

Lungiswa Gqunta lives and works in Cape Town. Her solo exhibitions include Tending to the harvest of dreams 2021, ZOLLAMTMMK Museum of Modern Art, Frankfurt; Lungiswa Gqunta 2019, Apalazzo Gallery, Brescia, Italy; Qwitha 2018, WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town; Poolside Conversations 2017, Kelder Projects, London and Qokobe 2016, WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town. Group exhibitions include Ubuntu a Lucid Dream 2021, Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Living Forgiving Remembering 2020, Museum Arnheim, Netherlands; Garden of Earthly Delights 2019, Gropius Bau, Berlin and The Planetary Garden, Cultivating Coexistence, Manifesta Biennial 12, Palermo (2018). Gqunta attended the Gasworks Residency, London; Women on Aeroplanes workshop, Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos, and the Nirox Residency, Cradle of Humankind in 2018. Gqunta is also one of the founding members of iQhiya, with whom she participated in Documenta 14 and Glasgow International.

Opening night celebration

The Institute's exhibition opening parties are back! Join us on Thursday 7 July to celebrate and be the first to see Lungiswa Gqunta: Sleep in Witness.

Free entry, 6 - 8pm, all are welcome. Drinks will be served.

Sign up for the opening night party via Eventbrite


Venue details

Venue address

Henry Moore Institute
The Headrow
United Kingdom
T: 0113 246 7467

Opening times

Galleries: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm

Research Library: Monday to Saturday, 10am - 5pm; Sunday, 1 - 5pm
Archive of Sculptors' Papers: Tuesday to Friday, by prior appointment