Yonela Makoba (1993-)

Artwork by Yonela Makoba


Yonela Makoba is a multi-disciplinary artist who was born and raised in the Eastern Cape.

Makoba creates work that speaks to her lived experiences, and works with sculpture, photography and performance art, while bringing attention to the intersectional nature of her existence.

Makoba’s exploration of the body as a site of experience, investigates the ‘situation’ of her existence, focusing particularly on the black femme and queer body in South Africa. In her work, she uses the body to physically slow down time by exploring through a healing trance, the unknotting of memory and trauma held in the body.

Makoba’s ‘girl’ body was a site of scrutiny, picked apart to be compared to her sisters. This comparison leading to seeds of self-loathing and dissatisfaction with her particular configuration of body parts and features. The ongoing theme of the violence inflicted on the body, is something Makoba was faced with since early childhood.

She draws from the often unspoken sexual experiences of a developing body and mind. From Makoba’s first sexual encounter, the unuttered blurred lines of non-consensual sex, and the exploration of self pleasure, thereby expanding her experience of the body. The works are an offering, an honest revealing of self, for forgiveness of self above all.

In 2016, Makoba graduated with Bsc in Environmental Science from the University of Cape Town, and since graduating pursued her artistic career. In 2017, Makoba participated in two Michealis Galleries’ curatorial graduate shows as a contributing artist and collaborator. In 2019 Makoba showed, along other visual artists in an independent group show at the Cosmopolitian Gallery titled Poropompompom. Makoba’s first solo exhibition was in February 2020, titled Kwantlandlolo at Orms in the completion of her residency program. Makoba participated in Latitudes Visual Art Fair, 2020 virtual representation.

 Solo Exhibitions

2020   ‘Kwantlandlolo’ curated by Anelisa Mangcu, Form by Orms, Cape Town, South Africa

Selected Group Exhibitions

2020   African Galleries Now Online Exhibition, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa

2020  ‘FEMINIST UTOPIA’ curated by Anelisa Mangcu, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa

2020   PAST PRESENT CURRENTS, Latitudes Visual Art Fair, Virtual presentation

2019    Porompompom, Independent presentation, Cosmopolitan Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa

2017    Conversations, Michealis Galleries, Cape Town, South Africa

2017    Unravelled, Michealis Galleries, Cape Town, South Africa

2017    The Studio One, Independent, Cape Town, South Africa

Grants & Awards

2018      Anybody Zine Movement Residency

2019      ORMS Circle Residency

2020      Visiting Artists in Residency at the National Gallery in Bulawayo (NGB)


2016     Bsc in Environmental and geographic science, University of Cape Town, South Africa


Maesela. N. (2020, February). Johannesburg: Yonela Makoba proclaims the body as holy. From City Press: https://www.news24.com/citypress/trending/yonela-makobas-proclaims-the-body-as-holy-20200216


2020: African Galleries Now: Photography and photo-based work