Open until May 21, 2022, artist Mary Sibande‘s latest solo exhibition in Cape Town is at the SMAC Gallery.
The South African artist allows through « A Red Flight of Fancy » the discovery of the colonized races, these captives of the present times, agitated. They know that this obvious indiscretion alone can lead them away from the abuses of colonization, as another type of relationship is established. For her, the underdeveloped human groups are trying to break their chains and, interestingly, they are succeeding. One could very well argue that in these long stretches of sputniks, it is ridiculous to go from starvation to death; however, for the colonized masses, the thesis is more rational.
Mary Sibande will forever be linked to the personality of Sophie, her alter ego that she created. Sophie, in her blue Zionist-Victorian outfits, gradually unravels the space of whiteness by taking into account the bodies of individuals of color in these spaces, but at this point plunging into the depths of this seemingly serene Sophie as she repairs the hero’s ensemble.
Mary Sibande showed us that inside Sophie was a whole universe rich with dreams, aspirations, and goals-that the limitations imposed by racial epidermization did not prevent someone from diving deep into themselves and their networks to support their full humanity. Sophie’s fantasies of opportunity came in the form of « The Purple », a move of her battle to emerge from the shadows and weight of racial segregation in order to rise up, breaking through the established roofs for women.
Mary Sibande achieved this through an exploitation of the nadirs of self – dark spaces where light cannot be found – and what she found in that space was beyond anything we could imagine. In the compartment of cover and lowering – where the radiance of reason is absent – we observe a quiet immersion that occurs. She renounces The Blue and establishes a good foundation for herself in a rhizomatic trap with what has come before and what is coming. Like a person who jumps back in time, The Purple is the fantasy of The Blue and deals with the past while imagining a terrible future, and in doing so, dreams that The Red exists.
Who is this red warrior? The garment brings to mind an Akira Kurosawa film and its seven samurai who protect the victims of mistreatment and abuse.
Is Red the eighth samurai we’ve been waiting for, or a descendant of the incredible African samurai Yasuke?
Why is the Present afraid of the future? Mary Sibande tells us that this series was born when she was pregnant. She kept staring at the television and paying attention to the 702 radio and she began to fear the news, to feel the slowdown and the gloom that was invading the country day after day.
She could hear the annoyance of some South Africans, and while she could identify with them, she also needed to appreciate the South African spirit and the levels of indignation that led to some of the most bitter struggles and destruction of structures that refused similar networks.
« The Red Shepherd » became a representation of this inquiry, balancing the province of South Africa, the individuals and the activities that brought us here. Mary Sibande relates the saying that when someone is angry, they become a « red dog ».
Every woman has an arsenal of indignation that can be useful against the abuses, individual and institutional, that have created this resentment. Focused with precision, it can become a powerful source of energy in the service of progress and change, and it is through this that Mary Sibande‘s « The Red Shepherd » provides insight into how individual influence intersects with the body politic or Mary Sibande seems to represent the indignation of the Prophetess.
In « Clothed in the Skin of Righteousness » Mary Sibande uses what Fanon would consider a noble outrage by putting a sheep’s head on the four red canines – the Chosen Ones’ honesty delegated dogs and their resentment.
The shades of the sheep’s clothing appear to have been drawn from the rainbow banner that describes the once new country-state, as the alarmed and led canines, having accepted their orders, prepare to do what?
Blood orange spheres crown the scenes. Is it a ridiculous moon stained with the lives that have dripped into the earth we are completely fed on, or rather a red sunrise noticing the carnage that seems inevitable for kingdoms to fall and others to rise?
In the midst of it all, there is an expectation that will not pass in this state of mind of what our identity is, what we can be.
Indignation, Mary Sibande acknowledges, is tiring and restrictive, traveling through her art, one leaves adolescence and goes towards adulthood, along with the transmission of imperceptible links and skills of endurance, of desires. Indeed, even if things are self-destructing and we are plunged further into Sophie’s fantasies, we are not without confidence in this state of mind of « I am ».
The exhibition « A Red Flight of Fancy » at SMAC Gallery is open until May 21, 2022.