Exhibition explores gender equality

The Sunday Mail

Andrew Moyo

INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day might have come and gone, but that has not stopped the National Gallery of Zimbabwe from commemorating it with an exhibition.

Running under the theme, “Balance for Better with Redesigning a Woman’s Space” – the ongoing exhibition opened on April 4.

It celebrates a woman’s strength, grace, triumphs and struggles while encouraging attention to well-being and heritage issues.

The show is about building a more gender-balanced world where everyone has a role to play while focusing on the poise required in a woman’s life for her to evenly distribute her multiple roles.

The exhibition showcases the work of 29 women who are at different places in their artistic journeys, with some of them already established in the industry while others are still on the rise.

Artworks ranging from sculptures to paintings that make up this exuberant showpiece, tell different stories which are in line with the theme.

The exhibition explores and queries of whether there exist an ideal space for a woman in society.

Although women are working extremely hard to redefine their role in society, majority are experiencing difficulties in achieving this, a notion elaborated in Alison Barker’s work, “You Couldn’t Claim my Soul”.

Marina Gruber’s “Passing Limitations”, interrogates the boundaries, dangers and the vulnerability a woman undergoes while keeping up appearances.

Another interesting piece is the “Pink Portraits”, a collaborative effort between Alex Gwaze and make-up artistes Yolanda Chikwenhere, Merit Ndethi Ncube and Mandisa Ndebele.

“Pink Portraits” features mugshots, poems and quotes, which do not attempt to re-enact scenes of gender-based violence in graphic realistic detail, but instead celebrates survivors and victims whose stories, testimonials and accounts add emotional colour.”

The exhibition is being curated by National Gallery of Zimbabwe’s executive director Doreen Sibanda and the gallery’s assistant curator Valerie Sithole.

In an interview, Sibanda said the exhibition offers a platform for female artistes to explore various topics that affect them.

“Every year we try to do a women’s exhibition, which is essentially an opportunity for them to examine societal factors that affect them. This is generally a women’s show that we have been doing for the past few years where we explore things from a historical, political and gender perspective, encouraging women to consider certain things.

“This one is redesigning the space, which can be physically or psychologically interpreted as in, ‘who designs the space?’. Do you design it yourself as women? Is somebody else going to design it or you just step into what has already been designed for you?” said Sibanda.

She said she was pleased with the outcome – consisting of varied artworks ranging from sculptures to installations.

Meanwhile, Sibanda was recently at the Art Basel Hong Kong where she contributed to a global art discussion.

The event, which is held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre is a premier platform connecting collectors, galleries, and artistes.

“Hong Kong was an eye-opener because it was my first time to have gone there. It was very insightful. The international art world was there. It is a commercial event where the arts from all over the world are presented through their galleries. It’s mainly a private sector driven affair and that is where artworks are exchanged and sold. This is more of a commercial event.”

She added that with over 200 galleries from all over the world, it was a global representation of arts where one got to see what people were doing in variuous countries.

“We were invited to go and participate in panel discussions about different things and I was talking about art institutions and Mr Chikukwa was on a panel that was talking about curating globally.

“It is a big deal just to be invited and then the information that you gather is of great benefit as you get to know how other people are doing things in their countries.”