Sethembile Msezane

b. 1991, South Africa

Mam’ Mkhulu, 2015
Oval wooden frame, velvet, lace, ribbon and hair

Image courtesy the artist

Msezane often uses hair in her art to summon the ghostly presence of absent women from history, particularly from colonial times. In performance works and installation pieces these plaited hair pieces are used in quasi ritualistic manner to communicate with their spirits and usher them into the physical realm. In other words, she uses the hair, among other objects, to force audiences/viewers to confront the abuses enacted on black women from other eras.  In this way she views herself and, particularly in the case of performance works, as a sort of medium between the living and the dead.

Her assemblages often include Victorian furniture and objects.

“The furniture became a part of this colonial fabric that was woven into this African locale. These colonial histories are a part of our history and we can’t escape them but at the same time as people we are trying to find our own identities and to be very present,” commented the artist in an interview for the Design Indaba.