Liona Robyn Nyariri


Scavett  2014

Scavett 2014

  • performance
  • video projection on foil
  • photographic print on glass, bolts


Liona Robyn Nyariri performs between an antique cabinet (her past) and a large sheet of aluminum foil screening a projection (the future). Taking on the persona of a fictional character, the artist imagines herself in the year 2070. The performance does not expect the viewer's attention, as the artist detaches from the physical and convincingly repeats the same motion, walking tirelessly between the two spaces - distancing herself from the present. When she finally settles in one spot, her body is commanded only by the music, mimicking the 'future' performed on the foil projection. It is clear that the artist is no longer present.

The camera acts a means to bridge time while the foil distorts and reflects, combining past and present on its futuristic surface. 

Artist Statement

This installation takes the form of a science fiction narrative. It explores the fictional story of a character known as Scavett from the year 7020 A.D . Scavett is from a land called Karacat and it is described as a dystopia. In the story, Scavett discovers a harrowing truth about her life and who she is. She also discovers that her destiny is set and has been written for her. Her mother is the only family that she has and it is she who ultimately becomes responsible for Scavett’s fate.

At its core, the story explores questions of mortality and immortality - of fate and the control we have over our lives. It is also an exploration of my personal desire for immortality and my wish to see the world continued, centuries from now. It is a question of death and of the unknown… the fear of the unknown.

The work draws on key moments within the story that I have chosen to visualize through video, photography and performance. Video and images drift in and out of Scavett’s consciousness as she has a vision of her destiny. In the performance, I take on the character of Scavett and show her fears and anxieties about the future she is destined for.

The science fiction genre allows me to look into the future and convey to the audience what I envision it to be like; I have dissected my own imagination to create this fictional narrative and fictional space in the hope that it will begin a broader conversation around the future of humanity.

About the artist

Liona Nyariri is a Zimbabwean born visual artist. She completed her BA Fine Arts at the University of Cape Town in 2013. She is currently completing an MFA in Fine Arts at Parsons The New School in New York. At the core of her practice is a deep interest into notions of history, construction, and narrative. Through her formal investigations of materiality, she is interested in the becoming of objects that carry certain weight or baggage/histories. Through the abstraction of these objects, how do they begin to perform as things onto which ideas are projected onto – how do they create meaning and how do they implicate the viewer? These are the questions that she contemplates and is interested in investigating.      

Previously creating performative photographic works that challenged stereotypes, Nyariri explored the origin, influence and validity of these constructions as passed down through history (both social and personal, oral and written). Exploring the past to establish an understanding, she reclaimed a personal authority by virtue of her apparent dismissal of imposed limitations. More recently the artist has shifted focus toward the future, allowing fantasy to dominate her creative pursuits.

Noteable achievements:

Nominated for the Tierney Fellowship, New York (2013)

Finalist in Sasol New Signatures Exhibition, Pretoria (2013)

 Winner of the Absa Art for Life Award (2012)



Beyond The Obvious – 25 East Gallery,Parsons The New School, New York 2015                                Art Meets Camera: Visionaries - The Rockwell, Cape Town, 2014
Heritage: Constructions and Abstractions – Young Blood Gallery, Cape Town, 2013
Greatest Hits: If The Walls Could Talk – AVA Gallery, Cape Town, 2013
Speke Photographic Show – Circa Gallery, Johannesburg, 2012
Cape Town Month Of Photography (MOP5) – The Castle, Cape Town 2012
Mistakes, Cape Town, 2012
The Women’s Show – Strand Towers, Cape Town, 2012


#lookatmydickybird – Culture Urban + Contemporary Gallery, Cape Town 2013

Beyond The Obvious – 25 East Gallery, Parsons The New School, New York 2015