70 Juta Street, Braamfontein
Every First Thursdays
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Initiation rituals feature often in the African narrative. As we see every year, boys in some South African tribes go to initiation schools to become men. In some tribes in the Limpopo Province, women also go to initiation schools, but this doesn’t really feature in popular discourse. Neo Mahlangu, with her latest body of work Bogaleng , comments on this by suggesting that there is a shared rite of passage that women from all tribes experience - Pain.
In South Africa, in 2018, our digital media landscape is saturated with stories of women beaten and even killed by their male partners. And we, as an audience, have become desensitised to the domestic violence and murders that girls must endure in order to become women. Pain has become a gender norm for women, the thing that they need to receive in exchange for womanhood. It has become the initiation ritual that women share, regardless of their cultural background. It is the rite of passage into womanhood.
Sometimes pain is subtle, other times it becomes too extreme to tolerate. From a young age, women are taught to bear being antagonised. A young girl is told that when a boy makes fun of her, he is really showing interest in her. Emotional pain in exchange for attention is groomed. This develops into a married woman learning to “ go kgotlhella” (to endure any pain that they experience from the husband). Emotional pain in exchange for commitment is accepted. Beauty is given in return for pain. Women are conditioned to meet the standards of the male gaze, which can only be achieved through pain, like when high heels are worn even though it systematically disfigures the female body. It has become a norm for women to experience pain.
Neo Mahlangu is a fine artist who lives and works in Johannesburg. She was born in Ga-Rankuwa, a township that is north of Pretoria. She aims to create work that inspires self-reflection and introspection with regards with how technology defines relationships. Her striking bodies of work is created using digital illustrations and charcoal, often experimenting with social media as an additional medium.
Come celebrate the start of Women's Month at our August edition of Umuzi First Thursdays in Braamfontein. The conversation is a necessity in order to heal our society.
68 Juta Street
142 Jan Smuts Avenue
163 Jan Smuts Avenue
Corner of Bertha & Jorissen Streets
138 Jan Smuts Avenue
90 De Korte Street
119 Jan Smuts Avenue
Corner of Juta of De Beer Streets