Skip to Content
September 9-12, 2021   Javits Center

Mary Sibande

A Reversed Retrogress: Scene 1

Presented by Gallery MOMO,  
Location: Pier 92 Town Square
Back to Platform Exhibitors

Curator's Statement

Sibande debuts in New York her avatar, Sophie, in a face off between her past and future. The blue worn by her grandmothers as oppressed domestic workers cedes to the figure in purple—a reference to the 1989 Purple Rain Protests, when Apartheid protesters seized a police water cannon spraying them with purple dye (to indict them visually) and turned it on their assailants. Sibande marks a generational turn of empowerment, yet with tendrils of more demons to quell.

About the Artist

Mary Sibande (b. 1982 in Barberton, South Africa) lives and works in Johannesburg. Studying visual arts, at the Witwatersrand Technikon and University of Johannesburg, Sibande’s work not only engages as an interrogator of the current intersections of race, gender and labor in South Africa, but continues to actively rewrite her own families legacy of forced domestic work imposed by the then Apartheid State. Sibande employs the human form as a vehicle through photography and sculpture as a focused critique on the stereotypical depictions of women, particularly black women in South Africa. The body, for Sibande, and particularly how we clothe it, is the site where this history is contested and where Sibande’s own fantasies can play out.

Notable exhibitions to date include Long Live the Dead Queen at Gallery MOMO (Johannesburg: 2009); at MAC/VAL Musée d’Art Contemporain di Val-de-Marne (Paris, France: 2013); Mary Sibande and Sophie Ntombikayise Take Central Court at Spencer Museum of Art (University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas: 2013); and The Purple Shall Govern at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival (Grahamstown, South Africa: 2013); at Iziko South African National Gallery (Cape Town: 2014); at the Standard Bank Gallery (Johannesburg: 2014). Select group exhibitions include , Another Antipodes/urban axis 017 (Perth, Australia: 2017); South Africa: The Art of a Nation at the British Museum (London, UK: 2016); Re(as)sisting Narratives at Framer Framed (Amsterdam, Netherlands: 2016); at District Six Museum (Cape Town: 2016); the Lyon Biennale (Lyon, France: 2013); and the 54th Venice Biennale (Venice, Italy: 2011), amongst others.