Dorothea’s Rache (Dorothea’s Revenge) - Peter Fleischmann - 1974
ok…this is a penis
…what is this supposed to symbolize?
Mary Sibande is one of South Africa’s most talented young artists. For several years, her work has nearly exclusively revolved around Sophie, a servant character created from her personal genealogy (her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother were maids). Sophie’s dark silky skin and her majestic eye-catching blue Victorian dresses turn her into a queen whose eyes close on reality (but only a little, as only artists can do) to open on a world of celebrational fantasy exploring South Africa’s identity. - meetheartist
1. Her Majesty, Queen Sophie
2 - 6. Lovers in tango **
7. Wish you were here
8. I’m a Lady
9. All is not lost
10. Living Memory
11. I put a spell on me
The faces of the mannequins are a cast of Sibande’s own face and the figures are clothed in an elaborate hybrid of a ‘maids’ uniform and Victorian dresses. According to the artist’s statement, ‘the body… and particularly the skin, and clothing is the site where history is contested and fantasies are played out’. The histories being played out here are the ‘stereotypical depictions of women, particularly black women in our society’. One cannot deny that the figure of `the maid’ is one of South Africa’s most common stereotypes.
Stereotypes are contradictory in the sense that on the one hand they stand in for a group in the most generalised and recognisable way, but on the other hand are also invisible through the process of generalisation. The `servant’ traditionally is conceived of as an invisible, sightless, deaf and mute figure to those she serves. She has no individuality, and one of the ways this is realised is through the uniform. The uniform literally covers the body but at the same time covers the clothing of the `maid’ that might identify her as an individual who has made particular sartorial decisions.
Sibande’s ‘maids’ uniforms, however, have been extended and remodelled into lavish and voluptuous dresses. Sibande has used masses of tulle to create the over-feminised costume of the Victorian `lady’ as in I’m a Lady, (2009). The extravagance of the dresses disables the figures from easy movement, let alone to be able to perform the work of a `maid’. This inability to perform tasks, ironically, becomes a marker of status: a figure dressed as such would have to be waited on, her inaction indicating her position in the hierarchy. -artthrob
"The Black woman is art; a perfect expression of pain, struggle, strength, and beauty."