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UBUNTU BAMI (article first published : 2000-12-27)

Running at the BAT Centre’s Menzi Mcunu Gallery from December 19 to mid-January is Ubuntu Bami (My Identity), a fascinating exhibition which deals with female and male identities. On show are photographs, beadwork, mixed media and installations by third-year Technikon Natal students.

Thando Mama's enormous oil paintings and installations speak of black masculinity and South Africa's attitudes towards young, black men. Using canvas, plastic beads, ink, carbon powder, white clay, chalk pastel, tape and sewing thread, his installation For Those of Us Who Are in Exile, include the works What are four things you can't give a black man?, Are you man enough/kaffir, boys don't cry/boys do cry and to kill a black man's pride.

"What is marked upon my body reflects where I come from, giving me a desire to search for my lost self, to see whiteness in black, and blackness in white, which resides underneath my skin," says Mama in his exhibition statement. His works are on sale for the duration of the exhibition.

Through her life-sized photographs and beadwork installations, Zama Dunywa aims to question people's perceptions of what it means to be a woman, saying "I can't control what people think of me, but I can challenge what they think". Adorned with beadwork tops and loin cloths bearing the words “Uthini Ngam’?” or “Ufanani Kimi”, the women in the photographs are self-confident and arresting – almost confronting Thando Mama’s prone male figures placed on the opposite wall.




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