Art that captivates the present and the future

Boemo Diale is the latest recipient of the Tomorrows/Today Prize for emerging artists.

Johannesburg-based Boemo Diale was awarded the Tomorrows/Today Prize at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair 2024, an award recognising emerging and underrepresented artists, for her Going Home exhibition. 


Mafikeng-born 23-year-old Diale, who grew up between the City of Gold and Rustenberg, interrogates the inner workings of her child self that existed in liminal spaces between rural and urban – particularly her grandmother's home in Phokeng, Rustenberg – and reflects upon ideas of gender, race, culture, identity, mental health and spirituality in a playful, colourful way. 


We spoke to Diale, who was awarded the prize of R80 000, about existing in these liminal spaces and navigating a career in the arts. 


Tell us about your award-winning presentation for Tomorrows/Today.

It was inspired by my grandmother's home. I was especially drawn to the tiles on her stoep. This inspired the floors for the booth. Going Home spoke mostly to a theme of prayer, protection and manifestation. The pot acts as a tool to call upon new realities while also fulfilling its utilitarian purpose as a vessel to hold and carry. This is in many ways how I felt in my grandmother's home. It was a place of shelter but also a place to dream.


Your bio mentions your works interrogate the inner workings of your child self existing in liminal spaces between rural and urban areas. Could you elaborate on this concept and how it manifests in your art?

Growing up between Rustenberg, Mafikeng and the suburbs of Johannesburg, I saw many inequalities that spoke so much to socio-economic realities in South Africa. I was drawn to the fact I was not the only person experiencing these shifts and thought this experience was so nuanced. I also felt like I was living in an in-between. 


Are there any specific artists, movements, or cultural influences that inspire or inform your work?

My biggest inspirations are Kara Walker, Deborah Bell, Frida Khalo, Kerry James Marshall and Irma Stern. Right now I'm definitely fan-girling over Nigerian artist Chidinma Nnoli. 


You also pursued a Bachelor's degree in film and television. How does your academic background influence your artistic career and vice versa?

It has given me the tools and confidence to conceptualise and speak about my work. It has also helped me build a muscle to research and read extensively before starting a new series or body of work. Although this doesn't always feel necessary for me, I do feel anchored when pulling from living references. 


What advice do you have for young South African artists?

Utilise social media to put yourself out there, collaborate with other creatives, intern and job shadow as often as possible!


What else do you have planned for 2024? 

To work on a larger series of ceramics, hopefully to travel and to continue developing my story and practice. 




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