Shaik Spear by Nanda Soobben.

WITH a team of 20 artists participating in the KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts’ After 20 Years exhibition, there is bound to be an array of diverse and beautiful artworks on display.

Initiated by the society, the exhibition is supported by the National Lotteries Distribution Fund as part of the society’s Social Art Programme 2014/15.

The organisers say critically engaged, socially relevant contem-porary artmaking is at the core of this innovative programme. The After 20 Years exhibition is the first in the society’s 2014/15 Social Art line-up. The exhibition operates within the context of the anniversary of 20 years of constitutional democracy in South Africa.

The participants include Nanda Soobben, Jeremy Wafer, Peter McKenzie, Andrew Nair, Wesley van Eeden, Mbongeni Buthelezi, Grace Kotze, the Woza Moya crafters team and more.

In an interview with Tonight, photographer and videographer McKenzie explained the underlying importance of his work in the exhibition: “There was a lot of struggle in the apartheid era of South Africa and it was socially imperative to talk about what was going on. I had a vision of what the possibilities for photography, more importantly documentary photography, could be.

“My work looks at hope and possibility and looks at Cato Manor as the place that symbolises historical sites of influx of change in transformation. So we looked at it and thought the visual possibilities that speak to us about change and what’s the notion of possibility of hope for a better change.

“My work looks at structures, ideological and structural. What possibility does it hold and how we think of the idea of the home and the house. And transforming South Africa.”

The After 20 Years project aims to reassess these methodologies with the objective of presenting contemporary artmaking paradigms that offer a more layered, inquisitive and investigative approach to artistic content and its relevance to the here and now.

In terms of his creative process, McKenzie shares: “The inspiration lies in this – it’s what I feel about the country I love and the way I see the possibilities, coming from an activist background continuously questioning the status quo and how my work can contribute to a better life.

“I want to bring a dimension of exposing, which is what photography should do and how we as artists see the world and how it can conform policies about initiatives that are meant to uplift peoples lives. I focus on the reality of life in South Africa.

“The realities of what art means in 2014, what are the new languages of social art and how we engage with it, are there new genres of art, and speaking of the realities.

“The exhibition is about what we as artists feel about changes, lack of changes and transformations of the last 20 years in our democracy and exploring new languages. We have a broad area of arts from video installations, cartoons, abstract art to the reality of photography.

“There’s a diverse range of artworks and collectively we want people to go away pondering the role of art in 2014.”

• The exhibition runs until May 11 at the KZNSA Gallery. For info, call 031 277 1705.