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Artist goes international breaking through Black women stereotypes

Part of the Social History Centre
Part of the Social History Centre
iziko museums of South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA: home to eleven official languages, wide variety of cultures and languages, and religions. At eleven official languages South Africa is said to be just one of the countries to have the highest number of different languages spoken in just one country alone. Such a high number of spoken languages in one country alone can be very intimidating to many, but in South Africa the English language is commonly used publicly and commercially, and is actually the fourth most-spoken language in South Africa, therefore the country is English-friendly. Now that the possible tension of being uncomfortable in a foreign country is out the way, you can now enjoy what South Africa has to offer.

South Africa’s architecture is just as diverse with a vast majority of it mirroring the country’s ethnic and cultural diversity that it’s known for, along with South Africa’s historical colonial period having played a large role in shaping the architectural landscape to create the illustrious and distinguished architecture that you see today. Much of its landscape is populated by Black African architecture, and about 80 percent of South Africans being of Black African ancestry, only separated by eclectic different ethnic groups speaking various Bantu languages (nine of which do have official status), the Black African-inspired architecture throughout most of the country brings people from all over the world to tour the country. The addition of Asians and Indians also bring a certain flair to the already cultured country, and make for an interesting array of art and culture.

With a plethora of great museums to choose from you can surely spend many hours or days enjoying each museum, and with the permanent collection of any art museum being central to a museum’s mission and existence, the iziko museums of South Africa make it a mission to have a collection worth your dollars.

With reams of various collections due to the extensive museums that make-up the iziko museums, the South African National Gallery was added to the South African museum from November 28, 2013 to January 15, 2014 to showcase an exhibition by Mary Sibande. The winner of the Standard Bank Young Artist (Visual Art) of the Year 2013, Sibande and her work are both celebrated for her deliverance on employing the human form as a vehicle, through painting and sculpture, in order to explore the construction of identity in a post-colonial South African context.

Her drive behind the art pieces is to critique stereotypical depictions of (particularly Black) women in society. Her work mainly analyzes or looks at the generational disempowerment of Black women, and challenges the misconceptions and stereotypes of one particular group. Where historical psycho-dramas play out and post-colonial theory directs the work, she can’t go wrong with staging an intriguing and creative but yet truthful pieces of work that tell a story that needs to be expressed and told.

To further her work, Sibande explores another focus of interest: how ideals of beauty and femininity inspired Black women to discipline their body through rituals of imitation and reproduction. Her ability to invert the social power indexed by Victorian costumes by reconfiguring it as a domestic worker’s uniform- which added much complex notions to the colonial relationship between “slave” and “master” in a post-apartheid context.

In her work, the fabric is even analyzed to invite you into a wider experience about all the facets of the issues. She goes into the fabric being used to produce uniforms for domestic workers that was instantly a recognizable sight in domestic spaces in South Africa. Yes, its purpose may have been to make it recognizable or to differentiate between “slave” and “master” but the idea of applying it to Victorian dress symbolizes a deeper problem- which stems from trying to purposely establish a so-called grand difference of elitism by creating the room to compare the dress style. Sibande attempts to make a point about the history of servitude as it relates to the present, and shows a lot of artistic flair as she does it.

To get a glimpse of this wondrous woman’s art work and pieces, and renowned exhibit you’ll want to click here, to visit iziko museums of South Africa which is the host to many museums.

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