Chhiba, R. (2017) The two talking yonis : the use of Hindu iconography in conversations of race, identity, politics and womanhood within contemporary South African art. Nidan : International Journal for Indian Studies, Volume 2 Number 2, pp. 44 – 60
This article looks at the use of Hindu iconography within South African visual art practice and its relation to race, identity, politics and womanhood in the work of Reshma Chhiba. It draws primarily on work from the 2013 exhibition entitled The Two Talking Yonis: Reshma Chhiba in conversation with Nontobeko Ntombela, and discusses Chhiba’s use of the image of the goddess Kali, the concept of yoni, the use of Bharatanatyam and understandings of feminine energy in relation to womanhood. It also threads a narrative of Chhiba’s ancestry through a poetic description of her grandmother’s journey from India to South Africa, and the embodiment of Kali as a form of defiance not only in her work, but also in her grandmother. https://journals.co.za/content/journal/10520/EJC-c195dbc56
Bharatanatyam Choreography and Performance by/with Reshma Chhiba
SHrEe: I am more than just my body
8 October 2017, Gandhi Hall, Lenasia, Johannesburg
“SHrEe, the latest production by Sarvavidya Natyaalaya (SVN) is an unravelling nnd narrative thread of current social issues faced by women in contemporary South Africa. With the sub-theme of I am more than just my body, SHrEe takes its audience back to the time of the Mahabharata and the infamous moment of the disrobing of Draupadi. Threading into this narrative it moves to the present moment, and uses spoken word and contemporary dance movement to retell stories of violence and violation against women. The production slowly unpacks the various emotional stages that women, who have experienced some form of violation or abuse, go through. SHrEe aims to reveal the primal force within these women, the goddess in various stages of being, in various stages of womanhood. From the ferocious rage of the violated woman (Kali), to collective teaching, learning and fighting, where words and voice are weapons (Saraswati), to the ironies of how society treats women, whether married or widowed (Lakshmi) and finally it moves to the claiming back of space, of goddess/woman in a state of equilibrium, who is neither less nor greater than her male counterpart (Ardhanareswara). ShrEe gives space to female voices who claim their emotional, physical and spiritual power back. “In a country where femicide and rape culture are so rife that it has become a norm, this production aims to bring these narratives and discussions into the public domain through the use of dance” (Chhiba, 2017). Abuse and violation should never be acceptable, therefore I am more than just my body speaks to many variations of abuse but also allows for empowered voices to be heard.”
Listen to the the Audio Tour here.
Zeitz MOCAA presents a solo show with the South African artist Senzeni Marasela. The exhibition traces significant themes in her practice, particularly in relation to the persona and alter ego of the artist, Theodorah. Inspired by, and in femage to her mother, Marasela has over the last sixteen years explored the role of black working women in South Africa, subjected to the devastating effects of migration, patriarchy, and apartheid. Through printmaking, drawing, performance, and mixed-media installations involving textiles and embroidery, Marasela’s work unpacks history, memory, and personal narrative, emphasising historical gaps and overlooked figures.