Creative Dialogues and African Feminisms Conference postponed to 2021
The African Feminisms Conferences(Afems) are yearly Humanities and Social Science conferences hosted collaboratively by Rhodes University’s Prof Lynda Gichanda Spencer (and the Urban Connections in African Popular Imaginaries (UCAPI) research project), based at the Department of Literary Studies in English, and Prof Sharlene Khan (with the Art on our Mind research project) at Wits School of the Arts.
We trust this finds you well notwithstanding this moment we collectively find ourselves in. Our breath is now more than ever at the forefront of conversations. Fighting to breathe in the unequal struggle against COVID, protecting our breath as a preventative act for survival, and the recurring screams, “I can’t breathe,” of black bodies fighting for their right to exist in an antiblack world, are foremost in the safeguarding and upholding of black life. We trust that between Zoom meetings, the economic fallout of the pandemic, and all else you deal with in your life you are taking time to breathe deeply because breathing too, is activism and radical healing.
In this moment of collective anguish and activism, Kharnita Mohamed’s ( AFEMS 2019) words resonate: “There is something about this moment, about the intensity and intensification of violence we cannot hide from, we cannot rest from, retreat from. Not that we ever could, not if we were alert to the world.” The coronavirus felt like a collective trauma until we recognized the longstanding social violence that predisposes some to infection and death; until we were crudely reminded that black bodies continue to experience extrajudicial punishment by the police, and that womxn’s bodies continue to be found in ditches or hung on trees.
We invite you to join the AFEMS 2020 virtual community in reflecting on the refusals of this moment and in choosing feminist healing. Our online interventions are inspired by Mmatshilo Motsei when she writes:
“I choose not to throw up my arms in desperation asking the question: Baba senzani na? [ What have we done?]. Instead, I choose to raise my arms in gratitude ready to receive divine […] feminist opportunities ushered in by the era, of the moment.”
1. #AFEMSMoments – July, August, and September 2020:
2. AFEMS Digital Healing Circle – 17th September 2020:
Facilitated by Mmatshilo Motsei, this Zoom event will include a webinar, breakout sessions, a creative performance, and a feminist wine down. We will share registration information for the digital Zoom event on all our platforms by the end of August 2020.
To be Black, to be womxn, to be non-binary in this world is to live in refusal, in resilience, in a state of continuing to claim our breath. What supports your continued breathing through this moment?
We are excited to be in community with you and look forward to your engagement.
Lallitha Jawahirilal (b. 1955, Ladysmith) is a South African visual artist, who enrolled at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts in London in 1984 and graduated with a BA Degree in in 1987. She continued to study at the Royal College of Art London where she graduated with an MA degree in 1989. She collaborated with South African exile writers, musicians, sculptors, painters and photographers in the UK and engaged in fundraising efforts for to support the anti-apartheid movement, and participated in group exhibitions, including the ‘Artists Against Apartheid’ exhibition in the Upper Street Gallery. She held solo exhibitions at the Africa Centre in Stockholm, Gallery 21 in Johannesburg and the Galerie Trapez in Berlin. In 1990, she was awarded a residency by the Delfina Studios Trust in London and won the Discerning Eye Award in 1991, and the Pollack Krasner Award in 1992.
Her work deals with space as a deeply embedded construct in one’s psyche during exile. Jawahirilal fled apartheid South Africa in the 1980s and went into self-imposed exile in London where she then took up her art studies, continuously engaged her contradictory feelings to her home country (and especially her home town of Ladysmith) which wavers between deep loving emotion, on-going conflict and in some senses, a feeling of spiritual entanglement with her place of birth. Using her own poetry, mixed media (painting and collage), Jawahirilal’s Oh South Africa(1980, 2011) series reflects her longing for her home during her time away in London, but also since 2004 when she took up permanent residence in India.
Career Fine Art Lecturer at the University of Durban-Westville, South Africa (1994-2000) Master Degree in Painting at the Royal College of Art, London (1989) Bachelor of Arts, First Class Honours at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, London (1987)
1994 Elizabeth Foundation Award, United States of America [view pdf here] 1992 Pollock Krasner Award, United States of America [view pdf here] 1991 Discerning Eye Award, Mall Galleries, London 1989-90 African Education Trust Award, London
Art on Mind Creative Dialogue with Lallitha Jawahirilal on 10 October 2019 at The Point of Order Project Space, Wits School of the Arts, Wits University, Johannesburg, South Africa (sponsored by the NRF Thutuka Fund and Wits University).
AUDIO: Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with Lallitha Jawahirilal
TRANSCRIPT: Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with Lallitha Jawahirilal
Natasha Becker was born in South Africa and has spent the last sixteen years living and working between New York and Cape Town. An expert in contemporary African and African American art, she has curated a number of exhibitions in collaboration with artists, curators, collectors, galleries, museums, and foundations internationally. She recently co-curated two exhibitions, “Perilous Bodies,” and “Radical Love,” at the distinguished Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice to inaugurate their new art gallery in New York (2019). Her past experience includes curating exhibitions at the Goodman Gallery (South Africa), convening public programs in global art history at the Clark Art Institute, and launching an international video art festival (both Massachusetts, USA). Natasha is one of the co-founders of two collaborative curatorial platforms, ASSEMBLY ROOM (New York) and THE UNDERLINE SHOW (Johannesburg).
Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with South African Curator Natasha Becker and Sharlene Khan on 5 September 2019 at The Point of Order. The event was part of the African Feminisms (Afems) conference 2019: Theorising from the Epicentres of our Agency, at the Wits School of the Arts, Wits University, Johannesburg, South Africa.
AUDIO: Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with Natasha Becker
TRANSCRIPT: Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with Natasha Becker
Mamela Nyamza was born and bred in Gugulethu township, near Cape Town in South Africa. From a tender age of 8 years whilst learning Ballet at the Zama Dance School in Gugulethu, Ms Nyamza, knew from the onset that, her love of body movement will eventually bring both prejudice and prestige to her career as a dance-theatre performing artist. Consistently ridiculed by her childhood peers for her athletic built toned body, to the ultimate rebuke and rejection of her natural body structure by her classical Ballet Teachers at tertiary level, Ms Nyamza inevitably was drawn to the politics of the body.
FORMALLY TRAINED AND QUALIFIED IN DANCE GENRE In the midst of adversity, Ms Nyamza boldly proceeded to graduate from the Tshwane University of Technology with a National Diploma in Ballet in 1994. After acquiring her Diploma in Ballet, Ms Nyamza was awarded a working contract at the State Theatre, in Pretoria. It is during this tenure that Ms Nyamza started to think of radically deconstructing the normative expectations of who qualifies to be a classical Ballerina. In this process, she duly won an audition in 1999 for a prestigious scholarship to study further at the Alvin Ailey International School for Dance in New York, Unites States of America.
CHARTING WAY IN VISIONARY CHOREOGRAPHY The extra experience Ms Nyamza got from the Alvin Ailey School of Dance, soon landed her lead dance roles in many high acclaimed International Musicals such as the Lion King, African Footprint, We Will Rock You. These quality stints as lead dancer, also exposed Ms Nyamza to other forms of dance, such as pantsula and hip-hop dance, providing her with distinct expertise in contemporary dance. Ms Nyamza’s distinction and vast experience in the genre of dance, promptly propelled to revive her initial quest to deconstruct all that is there to norm and expectations of the dance genre.
DANCING THEATRICS FOR JUSTICE IN THE ART Vast accumulated experience in the field of dance became a solid foundation for Ms Nyamza’s distinction in creation, choreography and directing extra-ordinary fresh innovative works. By 2007, Ms Nyamza was already ahead of peers, and she was decisively awarded the Standard Bank National Young Artist for the Dance in 2011, due to her refreshingly innovative choreography and performance in the art of dance. Ms Nyamza’s highly acclaimed “HATCHED”, created in 2008, was her first work to kick-start her art programme of unapologetically demystifying, deconstructing and trampling on the norms and standards of the dance/classics.
VISIONARY ARTIST Ms Nyamza’s immense contribution to dance-theatre and choreography, is now fast becoming legendary in the art of dance-theatre. Her various works since “HATCHED” (against patriarchy), including “THE MEAL” (against elitist ballet), “19-BORN 76-REBELS” (against youth discrimination and poverty), “LAST ATTITUDE” (against gender inequality in the dance), “I STAND CORRECTED” (against homophobia and hate crimes), “WENA MAMELA” (against gate keeping in the arts), “DE- APART-HATE” (against inhumanity and violence in society), and “PHUMA-LANGA” (against cultural domination), are all work-pieces that deal with important political and societal issues of today’s South Africa. Other major works of Nyamza include: “KUTHENI”, “ISIGQALA”, “SHIFT”, and “UMENDI”.
All these works have indeed propelled Ms Nyamza to embody and manifest the words of the Philosopher Allen Kaprow who said: “The line between art and life should be kept as fluid, and perhaps indistinct, as possible”.
In many strokes of genius, Ms Nyamza has put herself in for activism for equity in the arts. Her strong belief that artists have the power to change the world the better, prompted Ms Nyamza to lead a four-women march against an exclusive elitist Theatre Awards Ceremony on 18th March 2017 in Cape Town.
Ms Nyamza’s quest to address the current state of arts in South Africa, which is still exclusive, elitist and fretted with acute patronage, has led her to create a trilogy of works: DE-APART-HATE; PHUMA-LANGA; and ROCK-TO-THE-CORE. With these works, Nyamza has indeed mastered the art of visionary and raw freshness in the field of DANCE. All these three works brilliantly raise pertinent issues of race; tolerance; identity; gate-keeping; equality; and equity audience development in the arts environment. Ms Nyamza’s newest work, BLACK PRIVILEGE, epitomises this trilogy in distinct and focused work of law and spirituality.
Ms Nyamza’s ultimate goal is to propel DANCE into the ultimate theatric and genre of the performance art that conveys body politics on all social issues, and not to just entertain.
Indeed, Ms Nyamza’s fierce critics allege that she is a “non-dancing conceptual” dancer. In her own words, Ms Nyamza counters: “one cannot separate concept from creation and choreography – they all must go hand-in-hand to yield to a complete performing artist”.
NUMEROUS ACCOLADES AND HONOURS
The accolades that Ms Nyamza has received over the years are indeed indicative that the Art Fraternity recognizes her immense contribution to the arts.
Ms Nyamza has just successfully finished her three-year tenure as one of the Advisory Panelist in DANCE for the South African National Arts Council (NAC).
Apart from receiving numerous nominations for awards, such as being nominated for the 2016 and 2017 BroadwayWorld South African Awards for Best Choreography in DE-APART-HATE and ROCK-TO-THE-CORE, Ms Nyamza received the following awards and achievements:
Featured Artist of the Grahamstown Standard Bank National Arts Festival 2018, a first of its kind for the Dance Art Genre. This accolade is definitely one of the highest honor that can be bestowed to any South African artist, for the immense contribution done in the art field of the dance-theatre.
Dance Umbrella Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Dancer in Contemporary Style for “THE DYING SWAN” in 2000.
Standard Bank Young Artist for the DANCE in 2010
Standard Bank Ovation Award for “THE MEAL” in 2012
University of Cape Town Institute of Creative Arts Fellowship Award in 2012
6. OPRAH WINFREY Women of the Year Award in 2013
IMBOKODO Award for DANCE in 2016
Identified by the DAILY REVIEW of Australia as one of the 30 International Artists to track in 2018, that are positively changing the world. “They are out there contributing toward peace, making work in conflict zones, growing understanding and awareness, facing misrepresentation, and organising for social change”: Shawn Lent, January 19, 2018 in http://www.dailyreview.com.au
Ms Nyamza has also travelled extensively, continuously being invited to National and International Arts Festivals, such as the Dance Umbrella, Infecting the City, and Standard Bank Fringe Festivals in South Africa, and many other International Festivals including in Congo, Germany, Mali, Belgium, Senegal, Slovenia, Singapore, and Canada.
Ms Nyamza’s work is currently being studied at various national and international universities, an indication that she is a versatile creator, choreographer and performing artist, who continues to provide relevance to both academia and the practice of arts.
Ms Nyamza’s ultimate vision is to create and direct more work that would reach the most remote areas of South Africa to unearth young, raw talent in the art of Dance in particular and performance arts in general. Ms Nyamza has already started with grass-roots work by providing mentorship workshop sessions.
Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with South African Dancer and Choreographer Mamela Nyamza and Beverley Barry on 6 September 2019 at Wits Theatre. The event was part of the African Feminisms (Afems) conference 2019: Theorising from the Epicentres of our Agency, at the Wits School of the Arts, Wits University, Johannesburg, South Africa.
The event was part of the African Feminisms (Afems) conference 2019: Theorising from the Epicentres of our Agency, at the Wits School of the Arts, Wits University, Johannesburg, South Africa
AUDIO: Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with Mamela Nyamza
TRANSCRIPT: Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with Mamela Nyamza
Lebohang Kganye is an artist living and working in Johannesburg. Kganye received her introduction to photography at the Market Photo Workshop in 2009 and completed the Advanced Photography Programme in 2011. She also completed her Fine Arts studies at the University of Johannesburg in 2016 and forms a new generation of contemporary South African photographers.
Although primarily a photographer, Kganye’s photography often incorporates her interest in sculpture and performance. Over the past seven years she has participated in photography masterclasses and group exhibitions locally and internationally. Kganye was the recipient of the Tierney Fellowship Award in 2012, leading to her exhibition Ke Lefa Laka. She created an animation from the series, which was launched on Mandela Day 2014 in Scotland, entitled Pied Piper’s Voyage. Kganye was then selected as the Featured Artist for the 17th Business and Arts South Africa Awards in 2014. She was also awarded the Jury Prize at the Bamako Encounters Biennale of African Photography in 2015 and the recipient of the CAP Prize 2016 in Basel. Kganye recently received the coveted award for the Sasol New Signatures Competition 2017, leading to a solo show in 2018. Kganye’s work forms part of several private and public collections, most notably the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pennsylvania and the Walther Collection in Ulm.
Lebohang Kganye and Sharlene Khan at The Point of Order, Johannesburg on 9 May 2019.
AUDIO: Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with Lebohang Kganye
Our workshops are open to everyone who is interested to learn about editing Wikipedia, our focus is on increasing the number of Wikipedia entries presenting women-of-colour artists from different fields of creative and cultural production. We are collaborating with experienced Wikipedia editors or representatives of Wikimedia South Africa to facilitate workshops and give recommendations about our work.
Participants will learn how to create and upload new articles or to expand existing entries. We will draw from research generated by the Art on our Mind research project and participants will work together creating and expanding Wikipedia entries on artists and creatives. To prepare, please identify an artist or artist group whose entry you want to create or expand. Please bring your laptop as we will work online, editing and creating entries.
Wikipedia Workshop at Phototool Thursday, 5 March, 10-15h
The Wikipedia workshops at Phototool are run in collaboration with Art on our Mind, aiming to enable participants to upload new articles or to expand on existing entries. Phototool has been running a research project since 2016, entitled “Survey of Photography Training and Learning Initiatives on the African Continent” which plots a map of the photography training and learning initiatives that are currently operating in African coutries. In the workshop, we engaged with the research material which was generated by the project and participants learned how to generate references for Wikipedia entries. Participants also identified photographers/artists/creatives whose entry they helped to create or expand (individually or in group work).
As Wikipedia enters the voting age this year, we will look a bit closer at the online encyclopedia’s accountability and in terms of its race, gender, sexuality and other bias, to inquire what programmes are in place to educate and decolonise this space of global knowledge collection. For this panel, Afems has invited Wikimedia South Africa director Bobby Shabangu and Wiki Loves Women co-founder Isla Haddow-Flood to speak about recent efforts of Wikimedia South Africa to change the way the online spaces frame what is “knowlege” who has access and who owns it.
Bobby Shabangu is Wikimedia ZA director of projects since 2013. His editing activities on Wikipedia focus on the African continent and the Joburgpedia project which involves several institutions. He organises workshops for Wikipedia training and is part of the Community Process Steering Committee for the Wikimedia Foundation working on formulating the 2030 Movement strategy.
Isla Haddow-Flood is a writer, editor and project strategist who is passionate about harnessing communication technology and media platforms for the advancement of open access to knowledge; specifically, knowledge that relates to and enhances the understanding of Africa via the Open Movement (and especially Wikipedia). Since 2011, Isla has been working with members of the WikiAfrica movement to conceptualise and instigate #OpenAfrica, Kumusha Bus and WikiEntrepreneur. She is the co-leader of projects such as Wiki Loves Africa (an annual photographic contest), Kumusha Takes Wiki (citizen journalists in Africa collecting freely-licensed content). In 2016, Isla has co-lead the NGO Wiki In Africa to instigate Wiki Loves Women (content liberation project related to African Women), WikiFundi (an offline editing environment that mimics Wikipedia) and WikiChallenge African Schools (that introduces the next generation of editors to Wikipedia). She also volunteers her time to the Wikimedia Movement’s strategy process by being a Working Group member for Advocacy and is a member of the Wikimedia Foundation’s Annual Plan Grant committee.
Wikipedia edit-a-thon Friday, 23 August 2019, 15h, Wits Writing Centre
Wikimedia Strategy 2030: Capacity Building and Diversity 2 August 2019, 15h, Wits Writing Centre
From the invite: Many people use Wikipedia as their first point of reference for their school research projects and general update on daily subject topics. The Wikimedia Foundation which runs Wikipedia would like to find out from you through a workshops which will be held in Johannesburg and Cape Town, how can they improve Wikipedia’s user interaction and how can they support content contribution so that it represent the diverse people who reads it, it’s a movement strategy which they aim to reach by year 2030 where Wikimedia content represents everyone who consumes and contributes to it. This will not be edit workshops but Salon Strategy where participants will discuss and take a short survey afterwards. So, we would like to invite you to take part in this Salon Strategy Survey. Over the next months Wikipedians around the world will be getting together to be part of this survey, so any ideas you have are very important to us. Come through! Even if you want to listen to how the conversation is going.
Shelley Barrylectures at the Department of Journalism, Film and Television Academic at the University of Johannesburg. Shelley was born and raised in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, and completed graduate studies in English and Drama at the University of Cape Town and University of the Western Cape. She has worked extensively as a disability rights activist, following a shooting in the Cape taxi wars of 1996 that resulted in her being a wheelchair user. She has held positions as Media Manager in the Office on the Status of Disabled Persons in the Presidency and as the National Parliamentary Policy Co-ordinator for Disabled People South Africa. During this time, she co-ordinated Nelson Mandela’s guard of honour for his State of Nation address in 1997. Shelley was awarded Ford Foundation scholarship and graduated with an MFA in Film at Temple University in Philadelphia in 2006. She was a Carnegie scholar at Wits University from 2007-2008 and taught documentary at Big Fish School of Digital Filmmakingand at UWC where she pioneered filmmaking in the Women’s and Gender studies department. Shelley held positions in the FPB South Africa, Mediaworks and currently serves on the board of Street Stories Films. She is associated with Gun Free South Africa and gave a testimony towards ending gun violence at the United Nations in 2006.
Shelley developed and managed the Programming department at Cape Town TV (CTV) 2008- 2010, which offers training workshops in filmmaking. She facilitated filmmaking workshops at The Saartjie Baartman Centre and for the organisation Genderdynamix; the Feroza Adam Legacy Programmemade it possible to run various further filmmaking programmes.Shelley ran the community based film school and production company twotrainingwheelswhich aims to explore new languages in cinema and marginalised voices having access to the craft of filmmaking. She is currently training 15 young women in mobile phone filmmaking in Diepsloot, Johannesburg and is based at The University of Johannesburg where she teaches film. She commences her Creative PhD in film at The University of the Witwatersrand since 2018.
Her films span across genres and are largely experimental in style. She often shoots her own films, exploring the aesthetics of cinematography from the perspective of a wheelchair user. Screenings of her work have been held at major festivals and events around the world and been acquired by television, including MTV, DUTV and WYBE in the U.S and SABC and etv in South Africa. She was selected to be on the SA film delegations to MIPCOM, France, The European Film Market, Berlin, The Rio Content Market, Brazil, Cannes, France and The Tribeca Film Festival, New York. In 2017 she was selected to be the filmmaker of focus for the Mzansi Women’s Film Festival.
Awards include: Audre Lorde scholarship; Distinguished Graduate Student Award (Pennsylvania Association of Graduate schools); best film awards for the experimental documentary titled Whole-A Trinity of Being at international festivals in NYC, Canada, Moscow, San Francisco, Toronto, Philadelphia and New Jersey; best documentary for Where we planted trees(Diamond Screen film festival Philadelphia). Inclinationsmade the top ten best click list on MTN online. etv commissioned Diaries of a Dissident Poet on poet James Matthews, which premiered to a sold-out audience at Encounters in 2014. In 2018, she received the SAFTA award for Outstanding Disability Contributor to the SA Film and Television industry.
The process of reclaiming my body was an exceptionally powerful and liberating experience. I understood desire and sensuality from a completely different perspective. I realized that passion is something that everyone can access (it is not reserved for the young and the able-bodied), and it can suffuse through every aspect of our lives. I recognized the importance of self-love as opposed to requiring af rmation from others in order to love myself.
Shelley Barry (2006) Disability and desire: journey of a Filmmaker. Feminist Africa 6, 65.
Shelley Barry and Beverley Barry in conversation at Rhodes Fine Art Department on 29 September 2018.
VIDEO: Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with Shelley Barry
AUDIO: Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with Shelley Barry
TRANSCRIPT: Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with Shelley Barry
Organised by the Department of Visual Arts, Wits University and the Department of Literary Studies in English, Rhodes University
The third edition of the African Feminisms (Afems) conference occurred from the 5-7 September 2019 at Wits University in Johannesburg, South Africa, in collaboration with the Department of Literary Studies in English, Rhodes University.
The 2019 theme ws based on Nigerian Stiwanist Molara Ogundipe’s conversation in 2002 with South African black feminist Desiree Lewis in which Ogundipe states: For me, social ideas should emerge from a consciousness that thinks of what is beneficial to a human being as a person, not because the ideas occurred or are practiced in Europe or America. We need to overcome our endemic inferiority complex towards Europe and things “white,” successfully implanted since our colonial education and through its curricula. We should think from our epicentres of agency, looking for what is meaningful, progressive and useful to us as Africans, as we enrich ourselves with forerunning ideas from all over the world including Europe and America. … I felt that as concerned African women we needed to focus on our areas of concern, socially and geographically. I am concerned with critical and social transformations of a positive nature in Africa, positive meaning, “being concerned with everything that maximises the quality of life of Africans and their potentials too”.
Kharnita Mohamed lectures in Social Anthropology at the University of Cape Town. She is working on a PhD in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of the Western Cape. She has a Masters in Anthropology from the University of Chicago. Her research is focused on disability, race and gender towards developing a conceptual framework for a decolonial feminist disability studies. She was raised on the Cape Flats and is frequently confounded by the contradictions of inhabiting postapartheid South Africa. Her debut novel Called to Song was published by Kwela in 2018.
Patricia McFadden is a Radical African Eco-feminist who aspires to a life of Freedom and Joy. She is vegan and produces most of her own organic food on a mountain in eastern Swaziland. Her most recent publications are ‘Women’s Freedoms are the Heart Beat of Africa’s future: a Sankarian Imperative’ in A Certain Amount of Madness, the life, politics and legacies of Thomas Sankara, 2018; ‘Contemporarity: sufficiency in a Radical African Feminist Life’, in the journal Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism, 2018.
Lynda Gichanda Spencer is Associate Professor at the Department of Literary Studies in English at Rhodes University and is principal investigator of the UCAPI Research Group, concerned with African popular modes of representation and interpretation, and especially with the ways in which local specificities and global imaginaries are articulated through popular genres. It seeks to engage critically with various knowledge productions that are embedded in local cultural forms.
Sharlene Khan is a visual artist whose multi-media works focus on the socio-political realities of a post-apartheid society and the intersectionality of race-gender-class. She was a recipient of the Rockefeller Bellagio Visual Arts residency (2009), the Canon Collins/Commonwealth Scholarship (2011), the African Humanities Post-doctoral Fellowship (2017), the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences Award for Visual Arts (2018) and was runner-up winner in the Videokunst Preis Bremen video art award (2015). She has published three books on her artwork: What I look like, What I feel like (2009), I Make Art (2017) and When the moon waxes red…(2018). She is co-convenor of the annual African Feminisms (Afems) Conference; and runs the NRF-Thuthuka funded Art on our Mind Research Project; the bi-weekly Black Feminist Killjoy Reading Group and the Decolonial AestheSis Creative Lab. She holds a PhD (Arts) from Goldsmiths, University of London and is currently Associate Professor at the Department of Fine Arts, Wits School of the Arts, Wits University, Johannesburg.
The Art on our Mind experimental lab was facilitated by Prof Bhekizizwe Peterson (South African literature scholar and screen writer); Jon Alpert (American journalist and documentary filmmaker); Laura Andel (Argentine composer ); Vibha Galhotra (Indian visual artist); Sharlene Khan (visual artist) and Fouad Asfour (art writer and editor). 8-14 July2018 School of Fine Arts | Somerset Street Grahamstown, South Africa
Senzeni Marasela is a cross-disciplinary artist who explores photography, video, prints, and mixed-medium installations involving textiles and embroidery. Her work deals with history, memory, and personal narrative, emphasizing historical gaps and overlooked figures. Her work includes embroidery, print and video as well as performance and has been widely exhibited in South Africa, Europe and the US. Her work features in prominent local and international collections, including MoMA, New York. She was recently part of the Johannesburg Pavillion at the last Venice Biennale.
Born in Thokoza, South Africa, Marasela studied at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, where she obtained a BA Fine Arts in 1998. In 2003 she started a project titled Theodorah comes to Johannesburg, a durational performance based on her mother Theodorah’s stories about travels from the rural area of Mvenyane to Johannesburg, a journey of 11 hours. Like many young black women in the city, her mother was traumatised by events that took place in apartheid South Africa during the 1960s. Many black women returned to live in the countryside and many more were forced to undertake journeys into strangeness. Marasela wore a yellow dress that her mother gave her, taking on Theodorah as an alter ego. The artist has always felt that Theodorah’s story was representative of that of many black women in South Africa. The emblematic yellow dress has been translated into drawings, prints and thread works, always with the figure’s back to the audience. The story of Theodorah never left Marasela’s work and has at times been combined with that of Sarah Baartman (who was ‘exhibited’ around nineteenth- century Europe as the ‘Hottentot Venus’) and of the artist herself.
Dr Sharlene Khan and Senzeni Marasela at Rhodes Fine Art Department on 26 April 2018.
VIDEO: Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with Senzeni Marasela
AUDIO: Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with Senzeni Marasela