Phenomenology of A Black Woman
In the early 20th century, the field of phenomenology – the study of phenomena or the way people experience things was founded as a philosophical movement. This exhibition emerges as a study of the phenomenology of black women, which considers the lived experiences of four black female artists by describing the structures of experience, in particular, consciousness, imagination, interaction, relationships, and the situatedness of the human subject in society and history. In phenomenology, the ultimate source of all meaning and value is the experience of human beings.
Bringing together an international and multigenerational group of artists, Phenomenology of Black Women provides the viewer an untainted lens through which they can gain an understanding of the interrelationship of race, class, gender, and stratification from the perspectives and the existence of four black female artists living and working in South Africa and Nigeria. The artworks explore the basic internal structure of consciousness and other forms of experience by delivering a platform for black women to look more deeply into their reality and, from that sharing in growing consciousness, a consciousness not only for themselves but the viewers as well.
Drawing from the inspiration and groundbreaking work of Barbara Smith, a black feminist luminary and other Black feminist visionaries of the Combahee River Collective such as Beverly Smith, Demita Frazer, Cheryl Clarke, Akasha Hull, Margo Okazawa-Rey, Chirlane McCray, and Audre Lorde, this exhibition reiterates their famous slogan, “Until Black Women Are Free, None of Us Will Be Free”. This comes from their far-sighted understanding that if Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would be free since the freedom of black women will necessitate the destruction of all systems of oppression, from political-economic systems of capitalism and imperialism as well as the patriarchy.
Lesego Seoketsa is a multidisciplinary artist from Springs, South Africa. Her work focuses on the themes of identity politics, intersectionality in feminism, and social systemic issues. Her inspiration comes from black liberation as well as social equality in post-modernity. Through her work and practice she engages her critical thinking on postmodernist theory, and what living in a postmodernist world means for equality and liberation among Africans, particularly black women. She addresses these themes, both from a theoretical perspective and a deeply personal one too.
Muofhe Manavhela is a multi-disciplinary visual artist based in Johannesburg. She uses her art as a medium for social commentary that explores the positioning of Black women in a world that perpetually underestimates them. Her artworks deconstruct negative narratives surrounding black women through visually articulating themes of sexuality, gender, race, and the body. She draws inspiration from her positionality and embodied experiences as a black woman by proactively reconstructing our perceptions about black womanhood.
Damilola Onosowobo Marcus is a Nigerian artist and designer. Her work reveals questions bordering on perceptions of reality and lived experiences. Her practice pulls together artistic configurations and reconceptualizes them within a modern cultural setting. Inspired by artists such as Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Anders Zorn, she does not see realism as an opportunity to imitate reality, rather she sees it as a vehicle to interpret her experiences.
Claire Idera is a multidisciplinary artist based in Lagos, Nigeria. In her works, she explores notions of self in both our physical, and spiritual dimensions, while focusing on creating delicate representations of the African woman in a constant state of introspection. She is fascinated by the idea of identity and the role growth plays in discovering it. She attempts to juxtapose physical and mental metamorphosis about the female being, sometimes dark and melancholic; other times bright and tinged with notes of sweetness, elegance, and wonder.