The Parable of Re-Stitching: The Production of the Subdued Black Female Body

Dimpho Selepe

M1

Parish Priests:

Tuliza Sindi, Muhammad Dawjee

Parish:

19 - The Act of Service

“Manual: as opposed to automatic, as opposed to starting or functioning by itself and for itself... as in need for direction...Hands no longer yours, contracted, owned, and directed by another, like a tool or object” (Hartman 2019, 78).

The work approaches the South African black female body as an extension of the public realm and a site of public habitation by men. It approaches the author’s private home as the space where her body is educated to belong no longer to her private self, but to communities of men. In that education, clothing is used as scaffold, shelter, programme, skin, façade and typology, to constrain, conceal and tame the growing female assets for the male gaze. The proposed manual reveals these body-part-specific clothing items introduced as a rite-of-passage into womanhood, and catalogues how they reconfigure the body’s form both superficially and structurally.

The author proposes a series of installations that become extensions of her body, to be installed across the home, in the spaces where those body parts are deemed to ‘belong’ in their states of domestication. The author performs across these installations as a way to piece the body back together.

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