Buhlebezwe Siwani. Picture: Supplied
Buhlebezwe Siwani. Picture: Supplied

Standard Bank Young Artist winner Buhlebezwe Siwani explores spirituality through art

By Kedibone Modise Time of article published Oct 16, 2021

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The 2021 Standard Bank Young Artist winner for Visual Art, Buhlebezwe Siwani has established herself as a multidisciplinary artist who aims to preserve the history and culture of the African people.

Siwani’s work is predominantly in the medium of performance and installation, incorporating still pictures and videos in her performances.

Through her work, Siwani interrogates issues of femininity and spirituality.

As a sangoma (traditional healer), she continues to study and question the foundations of the world around her.

“I try to make sure that our history is not completely lost and that our stories are also told by us.

“I would like to control my own narrative, our history and our people are complex, so I try to tell those stories through my own personal journey and mostly through my own body,” explains Siwana.

The Cape Town-based artist says she draws inspiration from various aspects of life including the "black female body".

“When it comes to artists, I was, and am influenced by Black female writers, artists and curators, every single one is an influence, whether consciously or subconsciously... I’m also inspired by the history of the country, the different cultures, and spirituality,” she adds.

She went on to say that winning the coveted Standard Bank Young Artist award allows her to tell more authentic stories to a larger audience.

“I am one of a few black women who have won the award, and for me that means a lot. There is a lot to live up to, as the expectations are high.

“I am certainly not interested in awards.

“I am interested in the work and who it speaks to and what stories are told, so I am happy that our stories will have a wider reach.

“And by the time the announcement was made I already had been told, but that does not mean that I was still not in shock... I am still digesting it as it is quite overwhelming,” she reveals.

Monica Newton, CEO of the National Arts Festival adds: “After all these years the SBYA Award is still an award that artists aspire to, and one that the public recognises as a major endorsement.”

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