I ÁM NOTOTHER DO NOT EXOTICISE ME BECAUSE I AMBLACK.
‘It started as a social experiment because everyone in my third-year art class thought I was doing some sort of prolonged performance while I was going through my training,’ says performance artist Buhlebezwe Siwani of how her career started. The youngest and only black student to complete her Master of Fine Art at Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town in 2015, Buhlebezwe soon discovered that the local art world had high expectations for the artist and sangoma – and she delivered.
Today, her performance pieces and installations featuring photo stills and videos are far more considered and multilayered than during her time as a student. She is interested in physical and spiritual journeys, and navigating what is showcased and sacred. Her photographic performance series on water, UThengisa unokrwece elunxwemene (2015), is the most memorable body of work to her, both personally and professionally. ‘It is intrinsic in the way that I think about life and my spiritual beliefs,’ she says. ‘It speaks to the many conversations we need to have about water, spirituality and human life.’
It seems Buhlebezwe isn’t the only one to whom her work speaks. As well as making waves in South Africa, the artist has captured the attention of those in the know abroad, resulting in her being offered a residency in the Netherlands, an exhibition at Galeria Madragoa in Portugal and back-to-back commissions at home and internationally. I’d love to work with Iranian performance artist Sorour Darabi.
buhlebezwesiwani.com Buhlebezwe tells us about the artists who inspire her at houseandleisure.co.za.