Sethembile Msezane, South African, b. 1991
Sethembile Msezane is a South African artist living and working in Cape Town. Working in performance, photography, and sculpture, Msezane maps out how the process of commemorative practice informs constructions of history, mythmaking, and ultimately addresses the absence of the black female body in the monumentalisation of public spaces.
By examining past and present representations of black women in South African public and private domains, Msezane focuses on the omission of iconic black women in history and mythology. She employs strategies of creating self-definition that are deeply rooted in looking at her own past, be it through spirituality or relearning South African history and its alternate narratives. In her practice this has been a process of connecting and acknowledging her ancestry, as well as seeking out the stories of other women on this continent, as a millennial contributing to an archive of their histories.
Sethembile Msezane had her first solo exhibition with Gallery MOMO, Kwasuka Sukela, in February 2017. Selected group shows include Re[as]sisting Narratives at Framer Framed, Amsterdam (2016), Women’s Work and The Art of Disruptions at the Iziko South African National Gallery (2016), Dance, if you want to enter my country!/ Global Citizen at GoetheOnMain, Johannesburg (2016), Nothing Personal at SMAC Gallery, Cape Town, #theopening at Greatmore Studios, Cape Town (2016), Translations at Emergent Art Space and Reed College, Portland, Oregon (2015), Anywhere the Wind Blows at Brundyn+ (2014), and Camouflage at Circa, Johannesburg (2013). Msezane is a TAF & Sylt Emerging Artist Residency Award winner (2016). She is the first recipient of the Rising Light award at the 5th edition of the Mbokodo Awards (2016), a Barclays L’Atelier Top 10 Finalist (2016), and a Sasol New Signatures Merit Award winner (2015). Msezane’s work is in the collection of the Iziko South African National Gallery and the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa.
Zimbabwe, South Africa and Germany share a common story about the soapstone birds that were taken from Great Zimbabwe. After Zimbabwe gained its independence all the birds, except one, were returned to the monument. ‘Falling’ (2017) is a short film that explores the remaining bird and the mythological belief that there will be unrest until the remaining bird is returned.