February 24 2024, 3:00 pm - 3:45 pm

Premier Artist Talk: Buhlebezwe Siwani

Melbourne Art Fair
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, 2A Clarendon St, South Wharf, VIC, 3006

Exhibition Door 1 Nearest MCEC entrance: Clarendon Street Closest MCEC carpark doors: 2, 3, 4, 5

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International artist Buhlebezwe Siwani joins Tamsin Hong, VIDEO Curator and Exhibitors Curator at the Serpentine in London, to talk about her pioneering practice that encompasses themes of black womanhood and spirituality, and her video work Umntuntu presented by Galeria Madragoa (Lisbon) in VIDEO presented by VICE.

Umntuntu explores Siwani’s research on Nongqawuse, delving into the myths and stories surrounding the Xhosa prophet, including the split between the amaXhosa people into believers and non believers, those who believed in traditional methods of healing and those who believed in Christianity. Umntuntu is an ode to all these stories: the people appearing from the water represent various life stages, conveying aspects of past, present, and future, as well as the liminal and ethereal. The child serves as an intercessor, departing with purity, echoing the Nongqawuse myth, and ghostly bodies emerge from water, calling others made from it. The woven basket, “Umntuntu”, symbolizes King Hintsa’s head (the Xhosa king, assassinated by the British settlers and buried without his head), hinting at a return of that which was taken. 

This talk will take place in the CONVERSATIONS space at Melbourne Art Fair.

Tamsin Hong, Exhibitions Curator, Serpentine London

Tamsin Hong is a contemporary international art curator based in London. Hong’s research interests include women’s knowledge systems and embodied practices. Born on unceded Ngunnawal Country, Hong is Exhibitions Curator at Serpentine working on the upcoming exhibition Georg Baselitz: Sculptures 2011-2015. She was formerly Assistant Curator of International Art at Tate, specialising in performance and working on African and Australian acquisitions. While at Tate Modern, Hong co-curated the land-rights exhibition, A Year in Art: Australia 1992 and performances including Lee Mingwei’s Our Labyrinth, Ei Arakawa’s Mega Please Draw Freely and the 2020 Live Exhibition, Our Bodies, Our Archives.

Buhlebezwe Siwani, Artist

Buhlebezwe Siwani works with performance, photography, sculpture and installation. Siwani’s work interrogates the patriarchal framing of the black female body and black female experience within the South African context. As an initiated Sangoma, a spiritual healer that works within the space of the death and the living, Siwani focused her artistic practice into rituality and the relationship between Christianity and African spirituality. Central to her work is her own body, which operates in multiple registers as subject, object, form, medium, material, language and site. Her work can be described, although not literally, as the documentation of a diverse set of performances, which are rendered through video, photography, sculpture, installation and works on paper. Each of her projects deals with the relationship between ancestral rituals and modern life, touching social and political topics, such as the female body, black communities, histories of colonization and the paradoxes of our contemporary society, all seen through the filter of the artist’s own biography and experience.

Buhlebezwe Siwani was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1987 and currently lives and works between Cape Town and  Amsterdam. She completed her BAFA at the Wits School of Arts in Johannesburg in 2011 and her MFA at the Michealis School of Fine Arts in 2015. Buhlebezwe Siwani was the winner of the 2021 Standard Bank Young Artists Awards in the category of Visual Arts.

To attend this talk, purchase your ticket to Melbourne Art Fair here.

Premier Artist Talk: Buhlebezwe Siwani

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the place now called Victoria, and all First Peoples living and working on this land. We recognise and celebrate the cultural heritage, creative contributions, and stories of the First Peoples of Victoria. We pay respect to Elders of today, emerging Elders of tomorrow and Elders of the past.

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