Tshiamo Naledi Letlhogonolo Pinky Mayeng – R.I.P

Pinky-04
  • 23/08/17

The staff and students of the Michaelis School of Fine Art wish to express their condolences to the family and friends of Pinky Mayeng, who passed away tragically last week. It is with great sadness that we were informed of the death of one of our recent students, Tshiamo Naledi Letlhogonolo Pinky Mayeng. Pinky, as she was known to many, passed away tragically and far to early, at the age of 23. Many staff members have taught and assisted her while she was a student here, particularly in the Print media section. She was also a friend to many of our students.

“Ke Motlhaping wa ga Molehe o mokwere. Batho ba khiba

e ntsho ya ha mmaditlhong e makgantsetse. Batho ba go

tshaba tshaba tlhware e bolaiwa ke basedi ka tadi e amusa

sethoboloko”

Hey friend,

we never met someone whose sense of time and space

moved so mysterious

so independent of the chaos of this planet

Pinky, you moved around this place completely un-warped

by the constraints that distract the rest of us from the real

work- the work of painfully unravelling ourselves from a

system that measures us in such crude and cruel terms.

Your gentle but constant refusal to take part in the brutal

pace of everything meant that you let people completely

share themselves with you. Your approaches in handling

the motions of time and movement across space remain

revolutionary – your spirit is one of the most radical,

creative, patient and kind that we will have the privilege of

remembering.

With all of our love.

Letlhogonolo Tshiamo Naledi Pinky Mayeng was born on

the 18th of April 1993, and she passed away quietly on the

13th of August 2017. It was easy to locate the unmistakeable

nature of Pinky in everything she did, as she moved about

her daily life between languages of creative resistance,

whether in easy conversation, collaborative activism, her

own art practice, or her wise and calm presence in her

family.

Pinky Matriculated at Sans Souci Girls’ High School in 2011,

and continued her creative path at Inscape Design School

for a year, thereafter enrolling at the Michaelis School of

Fine Art in 2013. Her fierce determination to pursue her art

career was never disrupted by stumbling blocks that came

her way. Between 2013 and 2017 she studied and worked,

having at times to take a leave of absence for full time

work in order to fund her art education.

Umhlangano, the small FeesMustFall community at UCT’s

Art and Drama Campus was fortunate enough to share

space with Pinky during the 2016 protests, where she found

the kind of love and joy that we are convinced helped move

her towards the peacefulness that she radiated so firmly

over the last couple of months of her life. Although having

experienced many periods of difficulty and pain in the

years following high school, it was so clear that her search

for an embodied space in which her creative approach,

spirituality, and sense of fun could cohabit comfortably

yielded in recent times the most glowing, happy, and atease

Pinky we had yet known.

The body of work she leaves behind is characaterised by

intimate engagement with her own image and body, as

a vehicle through which to consider the political weight

of her and other’s positions in African society. Over the

past few years, Pinky’s hair, and its various styles became

the material focal point for much of her practice. Her

unstoppable experimental curiosity drove her own image

to become a constantly unravelling site of thoughtful and

spiritual reflection on race and gender.

Of one of her last works, Ditoro, she recently wrote on

Facebook:

Ditoro

I hold this video so close to my heart. As things unfold in

my life I’ve realized how much I fortold in this performance.

Pieces of me remain in Ditoro II, a story is left behind. Gape

ka moriri. I’ve never been this vulnerable in my work…

Botaki. Art. Creating. Expressing. Is so therapeutic. One

thing I am so grateful still remains. Through art I remain

myself.

Kelobogile.

It is this sense of self-knowledge which characterizes

Pinky, from her five-year-old self, whom her father recalls

absorbed in reading the newspaper, and with interest in

music, poetry and writing. She moved through life, relating

to and charming people from all corners and backgrounds.

While she described a slight reserved-ness about her

character, she never failed to open herself up for honest,

hilarious conversations, and was quite possibly the least

judgmental person any of us have ever met.

When Pinky fell into the same comfort that she readily

offered to anyone she encountered, she moved slow

and with ease, touching everyone with her contagious

“Mayeng” effect, that reached its height on the dancefloor.

iQhiya remembers Pinky’s openness, her support as a

friend and co-conspirator, her curious creative urges, and

her absolute litness, and ability to launch anyone. It is

going to be hard for us to dance without Mayeng. It is

going to be hard to be two hours into a meeting, and miss

the huge smile accompanied by

‘sorry I’m late guys. I’ll catch up’,

before squishing herself in between two of us amongst the

mutters of ‘ayy Mayeng’, and multiple head shakes and

supressed laughter.

I think Pinky knew all of everyone’s secrets, our most

precious ideas and tentative wild dreams because

wherever she was, sharing was in practice, whether on

the dance floor, in our studios, at workshops, or late night

sleepy chats. I am convinced that we will continue to find

you moving against popular conceptions of order and being

lead by learning and love.

Our hearts are broken for what we have lost in you as

a friend and a healer in our art community. We had the

pleasure of sharing Cape Town with you for your last few

years, and our thoughts and prayers are with your mother

Lizzy, father Bani, brothers Thabo and Khanyi, sisters

Neo and Nwabi, as well as much-loved family members

you leave behind, so soon after the passing of your

grandmother.