Introspective photographic series wins Sasol New Signatures merit award

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Introspective photographic series wins Sasol New Signatures merit award

Freedom of expression has become a universal human right and through this freedom, art has become a language of impact that connects the past with current events. 

One artist who has a unique way of expressing her thoughts on the most controversial conditions in South Africa, is KwaZulu-Natal born Sethembile Msezane, winner of this year’s Sasol New Signatures art competition merit award and a R10 000 cash prize. 

Msezane’s entry interrogates issues of identity through the mind of a millennial South African born in the 1990s. 

Her living artwork, “Untitled (Youth Day)”, highlights the significance of black women within South Africa’s political landscape. In the photographic piece – which forms part of her Public Holiday Series – she positions her own body in public spaces as a living sculpture, through the process of temporary monumentalisation. 

“The Public Holiday Series contrasts historic events with current issues in an exercise of memory. For example, Human Rights Day can be closely aligned with the massacre in Marikana,” she explained. 

“The characters I have created engage the significance of these holidays combined with similar western histories through iconic imagery.”

Through this project she maps out how popular culture informs the construction of history and mythmaking, ultimately addressing the absence of the (black) female body in the monumentalisation of public spaces.

Msezane holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and is currently studying towards a Masters in Fine Art at the University of Cape Town. 

Her devotion and daring style of sharing what she strongly feels has not only won her a merit in the Sasol New Signatures art competition but has also led her to many great opportunities. 

She was invited by the Open Stoep Residency to the AVA gallery as well as the Vrystraat Kunstefees Festival to perform her piece “Love in the Time of Afrophobia”. Recently, Sethembile was featured in Elle Magazine’s Women in Society feature and her Chapungu - The Day Rhodes Fell piece was featured in The Guardian’s “That’s me in the Picture” digital series.

Msezane’s work will be exhibited alongside 110 Sasol New Signatures finalists at the Pretoria Art Museum from 3 September to 4 October 2015. The exhibition also includes a solo exhibition titled “Auguries of Innocence by the 2014 Sasol New Signatures winner, Elizabeth Balcomb. 

For more information visit or contact Nandi Hilliard from the Association of Arts Pretoria on 012 346 3100 or