House and Leisure (South Africa) - - View Heads Up - BUHLEBEZWE SIWANI THE PER­FORMER

‘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.

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