Mighty Ndebele: The cyborg girl of gold

Aidan Bennetts tells us why he nominated this sculpture for Most Beautiful Object in South Africa 2018.

Merging completely contrasting elements of African and Western culture can yield beautiful results, says interior design guru Aidan Bennetts. He’s talking about the DNA of Mighty Ndebele, the handmade sculpture of South African artist Justine Mahony, that he nominated for Most Beautiful Object In South Africa.

It is a static sculpture of clay cast in gold. All about representing powerful women through art, Mahony imagined a powerful woman of the Ndebele tribe who carries qualities of science fiction in her character. The sculpture’s joints are rounded like large bubbles grouped together and its space-age smooth texture is offset with gritty imperfections left behind deliberately by Mahony. Bold, disc-like ears serve as a nod to Mickey Mouse, one of the most iconic characters of Western animation.

The creator of the golden sculpture went to great lengths to conceptualise Mighty Ndebele’s place on Earth. The glistening figure, about one and a half foot in stature, acts as a symbol of our ongoing hunt for fortune and self-actualisation. Mighty Ndebele’s story is that she forages for shiny metals, unaware of the fact that she is made of gold herself.

“She is a cyborg who wades through mine dumps in search of gold. She does not know she’s made of it. She’s from Wonderboom, Pretoria, where her people await her return with riches for her tribe. They do not know the riches they already have,” says Mahony.

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