BUHLEBEZWE SIWANI - 2021 STANDARD BANK YOUNG ARTIST FOR VISUAL ART
Buhlebezwe Siwani completed her postgraduate degrees with distinction at the Wits School of Arts (BAFA Honours) and the Michaelis School of Fine Arts (MAFA). Following residencies in Switzerland, the Netherlands and France, her work has been exhibited from Europe to Asia and Australia to America. She has also published two books, Imfihlo (2015) and Qab’Imbola (2018). In recent years she has lived between Amsterdam, Cape Town and the Eastern Cape.
Siwani works in a variety of media, focusing on embodied performance, installation, photography and video, but also exploring the creative possibilities of paper and sculpture. The National Arts Festival Artistic Committee affirms that, “Because she works across film, the body, and more typical gallery presentations, she has a versatility which is especially notable in Covid-19 times.”
For Siwani, everything performs: “Objects perform, paper performs … As an artist, it’s my job to blur the line, to see a piece of paper becoming something else – a carpet, a chair – and to make this believable, to allow the object to transcend the initial physical limitations that we place on it.” Artists thus have the ability and the responsibility to shift the way that a given object is seen.
Siwani believes that a work of art should tell its own story through its own medium – the medium that, in effect, it chooses for itself. This approach complements her emphasis on urgency , spirit and healing.