From May 11 to June 10, 2017, Gallery Momo will present Dress Code by Australian artist Ceil Ann, Mozambican artist Lizette Chirrime, South African artists Rory Emmett, Francois Knoetze, Lesiba Mabitsela, Siwa Mgoboza, Sethembile Msezane and Mary Sibande, African artist Ayana V. Jackson, Congolese artist Maurice Mbikayi and Lucy Robson. The exhibition explores the use of costume in contemporary art. Dress Code features the work of well-established and new emerging artists, working in a variety of disciplines through the medium of costume.
Getting dressed is an essential activity of everyday life. We dress to accommodate social and environmental factors while indicating meaningful messages by way of what we wear. This signifying language of dress reads through the adornment of costume, asserting the identity of the wearer through the performativity of the coded attire. As a result, costume becomes the indicating factor that instructs perceptions of class, gender, and culture, influencing the way we interact with each other even before we meet.
Artists who work with the medium of costume seek to utilise, subvert, and critique its imposing character. As the nature of costume lends itself to performativity, many artists employ the medium of costume as a tool for social commentary. By linking what we wear to the complexities of representation and identity, Dress Code looks at ways in which costume becomes an evocative voice within contemporary art practice.
Exploring the medium’s collective and individual function, Dress Code looks to costume for signalling cultural belonging, aversion, and individual expression. This exhibition showcases the work of artists who employ particular technique and materials, adding multiple layers of meaning, coding and decoding perceptions of dress. However complex the didactics of costume and the performativity of dress, consistent in Dress Code’s exploration of the discipline is a commitment to celebrating costume and its role in contemporary art.
Lizette Chirrime was born in 1973 in Maputo, Mozambique. She attended several workshops and is self-taught. Her large-scale textile works on canvas, consists of abstract forms rendered in a collage of printed fabrics from Tshwe-tshwe to other so-called African prints associated with dress on the continent. Chirrime has featured in several exhibitions including Sombres, Movimentos e Sonhos, American Cultural Centre, Maputo (2013); In Print / In Focus, Michaelis Gallery, University of Cape Town (2015); Beyond Binaries Essence Festival, Durban (2016) and A Sinfonia da Alma Liberta II (Sounds of a Free Soul), World Art gallery, Cape Town (2016).
Sethembile Msezane was born 1991 in South Africa. She holds a Masters degree in Fine Art at the University of Cape Town. Her work displays how the process of commemorative practice informs constructions of history, mythmaking, and ultimately addresses the absence of the black female body in the monumentalisation of public spaces. Msezane’s work has featured in several exhibitions including Nothing Personal, SMAC Gallery, Cape Town; Camouflage at Circa, Johannesburg (2013); Anywhere the Wind Blows, Brundyn+ (2014); Translations at Emergent Art Space and Reed college, Portland, Oregon (2015); Women’s Work and The Art of Disruptions, Iziko South African National Gallery (2016); and Dance, if you want to enter my country!/ Global Citizen, GoetheOnMain, Johannesburg (2016).
Mary Sibande was born 1982 in Barberton, South Africa. She holds a diploma in fine arts at the Witwatersrand Technikon and a bachelors degree in Biotechnology from the University of Johannesburg. Sibande activates the human form through photography and sculpture and explores the construction of identity in a post-colonial South African context. Her work has featured internationally, including at the Venice Biennale, South African pavilion (2010); and the Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne, Paris (2013). She received the Standard Bank Young Artist award in 2013 and is currently represented by Gallery Momo.
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