Natalie Paneng is awkward, complex, and has a quirk to her expression. Residing in Johannesburg and in the cyber village called the Internet.
Natalie PNG (born in 1996, Johannesburg, South Africa) is a digital artist who completed a BADA(Hons) from the University of Witwatersrand in 2018. Majoring in Production Design (Set and Costume Design) as well as Art Management. Natalie makes use of both her self taught digital skills and her theatre background to create multidisciplinary digital art.
Natalie PNG work has been exhibited at Hazard Gallery through the Bubblegumclub Future 76 Residency in 2018. In 2019 she was part of Design Indaba’s Class of 2019 Emerging Creatives and was also a finalist for Bokeh Film Festivals Emerging Talent Category. Along with this Natalie participated in two residencies, Floating Reverie’s online residency as well as Faku’Gesi’s Digital.
Innovation Residency. She later exhibited at BKHz through her work from the Faku’gesi residency. In 2020 Natalie has exhibited with TMRW Gallery, The National Arts Festival, Blank Projects and Michaelis School of Fine Art. Natalie also published creative research through Ellipses Journal and Artist Research Africa as well as being a 2020 Fellow with Institute of Creative Arts and UCT.
Through her work she explores what it means to have an online presence, the persona’s we develop online and how the Internet and its algorithms control and influence us and our perceived reality. Her videos and art become a way for her to interrogate as well as share how she manifests and navigates the world she lives in and creates for herself. The internet is MTV and she welcomes you to her crib.
Coming from a theatre background Natalie Paneng has always needed to ensure she understands the idea and act of world- building: story, context and set. Although theatre was her first love and first entry point to the art world, she always wanted to learn more, particularly about the digital world. She wanted to find ways to interact with both while combining and isolating the elements of both disciplines.
Performance plays a big role in the manner in which she presents her work and herself. Using performance as a tool that attempts to break the idea of the black female archetype. Dismantling assumptions about what an African woman looks like and acts like. Doing this through embodying multiple alter-ego’s who live in imagined ‘dreamworlds’. Using the Internet as a platform to present these characters and their worlds.
Natalie PNG see’s what she does in digital art as a step to creating new narratives. Theatre’s platform is the stage and I take that same spirit of performativity and uses it in her video work and digital collage. Natalie presents worlds, characters and captivating stories through her work.
The theme’s Natalie explore’s in her work are mostly centred around the idea of being watched and engaged with by viewers and audiences through the digital screen. Sharing the gaze and the narrative of a “awkward” and “alternative” black girl. Along with this a growing theme in her work is observing and taking ownership of online spaces and dissecting the rules of engagement such as where we stand in relation to algorithms and online systems. There is a big digital presence and acknowledgement of digital and technological influence, either through the character, style, sound or imagined world.
There is a constant act of placing herself in different contexts, creating her own worlds and watching how she engages and how the world reacts to her.
Imagination plays a big role in her work. She translates imagined worlds and characters and presents them to an online audience using digital mediums. The internet has offered her a platform to perform her work and given it a space to exist. Therefore giving her imagination a space to exist.