Now and forever

Victorian lady or South African house maid? Mary Sibande's mixing of the two results is powerful social commentary.
Posted 2 Oct 10 By Design Indaba Creative Work / Design News Comments

The deconstruction of identity is always a tough subject. It’s even harder when that identity is black, female and defined within the domestic realm of a postcolonial South African context. Mary Sibande is an artist who is not afraid to challenge and critique stereotypes, especially not where the black women in our society are concerned.

Her series of works titled “Long Live the Dead Queen” was recently featured as large photographic murals on the sides of buildings and other structures in Johannesburg.

The works, which started out as sculptures, feature black women wearing dramatic Victorian costumes, reconfigured from what is understood to traditionally be the domestic worker’s “uniform”. This blurring of lines between domestic uniform and Victorian haute couture comments on the colonial relationship between “slave” and “master”.