Ugo Woatzi Residency
Ugo Woatzi (b;1991) is a queer visual artist based in Brussels (BE). He holds a BA Sociology (2013) from Toulouse University (FR) & Galatasaray University Istanbul (TR), a MA Visual Art Photography from LUCA School of Arts Brussels (2019) and he completed the Intermediate Course at Market Photo Workshop, Johannesburg (SA) in 2016. Ugo Woatzi’s works reference spaces both real and imagined, caught between worlds of freedom and restriction. He reveals and yet conceals, like a chameleon hiding, blending and adapting – as a means of survival and preservation. His collaborative process expresses the desires and struggles of his community, together creating a more sensitive and accepting world, escaping and confronting the harsh realities of divisive heteronormative structures.
Ugo has participated in a number of group exhibitions, his series “chameleon” has been featured in several publications & won some international prices. He has been developing work under the mentorship of Through The Lens Collective (SA) since 2019. Ugo is also
part of FUTURES, a Europe-based photography platform.
In this work Ugo Woatzi refers to his relationship with photography and especially self portraiture. While discovering the work of Zanele Muholi, Claude Cahun, Pierre Molinier and Samuel Fosso, he realised the potential of using photography as a process of healing & self- development. This work is both a statement and a form of acceptance of his homosexuality and queerness. It is also a representation of a safe space he has built for himself. For Ugo, creating this work was a personal reflection on his own background, with the aim of building a collective and political story. In masking his camera with pieces of fabric, and displaying himself sometimes covered, sometimes naked, he explores the depiction of his own body, how it could be transformed, and how to embrace the spectrum of his gender identity. Fabric plays an important role throughout this series: as garments is a way to both express one!s identity or to camouflage it. Creating either a contrast-effect or a chameleon-effect, the garment designs/shapes our bodies, and by extension our way of being and performing, essentially expressing our gender in a society who approaches the topic of homosexuality/queerness in a violent and hostile manner. By presenting this work in the form of textile prints and creating various structures with them, he explores the concept of shape- shifting and identity performance, sometimes relating to a photographic studio, a garment, or simply to a safe space for queer people to share and express themselves. This is a constantly evolving piece - moving, changing, transforming itself according to a specific message or statement.
Between Nov and Dec 2022, our resident French Photographer Ugo Woatzi worked with TTLC participants Nonzuzo Gxekwa, Troye Shannon and Kwazokuhle Phakathi through collaboration and conversation to reflect on queer safe spaces.
By presenting his work in the form of textile prints and creating various structures with them, he explores the concept of shape-shifting and identity performance, sometimes relating to a photographic studio, a garment, or simply to a safe space for queer people to share and express themselves. This constantly evolving piece - moves, changes, and transforms itself according to a specific message or statement, essentially expressing gender in a society who approaches the topic of homosexuality/queerness in a violent and hostile manner. For Ugo, creating this work is personal reflection on his own background, with the aim of building a collective and political story.
A special thank you to the IFAS - Institut Français d'Afrique du Sud for their support of this residency.
"Here to plug the in between seams" is the culmination of this collaboration.