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Exploring Discoloured Margins affecting women in arts

Tandazani Dhlakama one of the curators of the Dis(colored) Margins exhibition PIC: COURESTY OF STLAWU.EDU

Female artists bemoaned oppression and under-representation not only in contemporary art but in historical art during a discussion held at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe around the current exhibition, ‘Discoloured Margins’.

Speaking at the discussion, female panelists who are also taking part in the exhibition blamed the continued under-representation of women in depicted art for the perpetuation of male dominance within the society.

“When you have the minds of the world coming into a conference hall planning what a nation looks like, women are not in those spaces and that feeds into other areas such as art and art history were women will continue being back benchers,” said South African visual artist, Sethembile Msezane.

Msezane whose displays portray and critique female underrepresentation in public commemorations also said until the whole narrative had been changed in public spaces where statues are erected to remember male heroes, female heroes will always go unnoticed.

“I realised a trend in South Africa in which on public commemorations they only talk about male heroes, but in any struggle females take part too and art has to depict and also celebrate that,” she added.

Her sentiments come at a time in which Zimbabwean critics are arguing that history and art has not fully glorified female liberation heroes in the likes of Mbuya Nehanda.

Also speaking at the discussion was renowned female photographer Annie Mpalume who attributed continued underrepresentation of women within the arts to females themselves who continue looking down upon themselves and their artistic work.

“Let’s go back to the basics, the camera itself was invented by a man and most photojournalists are men and hence they can charge more for pictures and as a female photographer I will be afraid to do so because somehow I think I am not worth that much. We continue to undervalue ourselves,” she said.

Meanwhile, assistant curator at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Fadzai Muchemwa called on female artists to change the whole narrative by also representing their female counterparts and recording history of glorious things done by women.

“The women who are there in our history were never painted or photographed by women but by other men, so as long as it remains like this, the inequalities in terms of representation will always continue,” she said.

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Tinotenda Munyukwi
Tinotenda Munyukwi is an investigative journalist who is passionate about research and social analysis. His big dream is to make a major contribution to the global media sector.
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