Thania Petersen

Thania Petersen is a multi-disciplinary artist who uses photography, performance and installation to address the intricacies and complexities of her identity in contemporary South Africa. Petersen’s reference points sit largely in Islam and in creating awareness about its religious, cultural and traditional practices. She attempts to unpack contemporary trends of Islamophobia through her analysis of the continuing impact of colonialism, European and American imperialism, and the increasing influence of right-wing ideologies.

Threads in her work include the history of colonialist imperialism in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, as well as the social and cultural impact of westernised consumer culture. Her work is also informed by her Cape Malay heritage, the practice of Sufi Islamic religious ceremonies and the creolisation of cultural practices.

Petersen studied at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art in London and has held three solo exhibitions at the Association for Visual Arts (2016), Everard Read Gallery (2017) and WHATIFTHWORLD Gallery (2019).

Recent international group exhibitions include ‘Present Passing’ (Osage Foundation, Hong Kong), ‘Radical Love’ (Ford Foundation, New York) and the 14th Curitiba Biennial (Brazil). During a recent residency in the Thami Mnyele (Amsterdam) she created a performance that was showcased at the Afrovibes performing arts festival, and was hosted by the Smithsonian Museum Washington as a contributor to the AfricAsia symposium.

Petersen is represented in many public and private collections including IZIKO South African National Gallery, Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), and Yeojoo City Collection, South Korea.

Born, Lives & Works

Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa


Exhibited at

Acknowledgements & Funders

Artisan: Saeed Naqvi
Represented by SMAC gallery, Cape Town