Expats Heidi Chisholm and Sharon Lombard tap into their shared history as South Africans living in America in their upcoming joint show called Mr Somebody & Mr Nobody at  the Amelia Hyde Gallery in San Francisco.

Together, the artists they create a fictional world, with real world implications, populated by chickens, fast cars, crocodiles, Ndebele airplanes, magical monkeys, flying lions, six fingers and Santa in a devil suit. In this fictional realm, their memories of home and African folk tales blend with Western insights to create new playful narratives.

The exhibition title is based on an isiZulu proverb “He arrives Mr. Somebody and leaves Mr. Nobody”, referencing complicated questions regarding transition, change, making a home, and learning to have faith despite the certain uncertainties of life. The desire to fit in is universal and the process complicated, but  Chisholm and Lombard aren’t waiting for a reception, they’re extending the first hand and hoisting their own flag in a space that is “Neither Here, Nor There.”

“We are putting together a little souvenir stand of some of our experiences and memories, a market stall which will reflect our lives as South African immigrants,” Lombard explains. “We have invented a borderless country for this market, an explorer’s flag to be planted, and we have been designing and producing goods to sell in our installation stall, our Afro pop up shop.”


Mr Somebody & Mr Nobody opens at the Amelia Hyde Gallery in San Francisco on 23 April 2011.