iQhiya Collective

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iQhiya Collective is a network of young black female artists based in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa. They specialise in a broad range of artistic disciplines including performance art, video, photography, sculpture and other mediums.[1]

iQhiya is an isiXhosa word for the cloth women use on their heads to carry water vessels. This is meant to represent "unshakable power" and an infinite love for the collective.[2]


The collective was originally formed by Asemahle Ntonti, Bronwyn Katz, Buhlebezwe Siwani, Bonolo Kavula, Charity Kelapile, Lungiswa Gqunta, Matlhogonolo Kelapile, Sethembile Msezane, Sisipho Ngodwana, Thandiwe Msebenzi, and Thuli Gamedze.[3]

Bronwyn Katz[edit]

Multi-disciplinary artist, Bronwyn Katz completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2015, receiving the Simon Gerson Prize for a distinctive body of work related to collective history and memory linked to the spaces and objects around them.[4] She has since exhibited throughout the globe, participating in shows such as Dak'Art (2016) in Senegal; the Kunsthale Kade, Netherlands (2017- 2018), as well as the Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2018). A Silent Line, Lives Here (curated by Marie-Ann Yemsi) is the result of a 6-month sponsored SAM Arts Project residency at the International des Arts in Paris and will be on show from 22 June to 9 September 2018. She is represented by Blank Projects.[5]

Buhlebezwe Siwani[edit]

Buhlebezwe Kamohelo Siwani is a visual artist living and working in Cape Town with a focus on performance, photography, sculpture and installation. She completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honors) at the Wits School of Arts in Johannesburg in 2011 and her Masters in Fine Arts at the University of Cape Town Michaelis School of Fine Arts in 2015.[6]

Thematically Siwani's work interrogates the patriarchal framing of the black female body and black female experience within the South African context, along with issues of spirituality and religion, femininity and colonialism. As an initiated sangoma, Siwani has also used her artistic practice to delve into religious subjects and the often-perplexing relationship between Christianity and African spirituality.[7]

Thandiwe Msebenzi[edit]

Born in 1991, Thandiwe Msebenzi is a photographic artist who uses her images as a way to communicate her own experiences as a woman, and to connect this to larger conversations about how women are treated. In 2014 she graduated from Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town. She grew up in Nyanga, Cape Town and matriculated in 2010. That year she was selected to participate at the Iziko National Gallery. In 2013 she received an award for social involvement in photography for her third year work. In her fourth year (2014), she became the recipient of the Tierney Photography Fellowship Award.[8]

Artistic Approach[edit]

The iQhiya collective is an art collective which wants to challenge the South African art monopoly that favours white, male owned galleries and black, male artists through collaborative work asserting their presence in important art venues in South Africa.[3] The collective was formed in June 2015 in Cape Town as a response to young black female artists voices being marginalized, thus forming a collective that can magnify their voices.[9] It aims to create a safe space where female artists can share their concepts and ideas, and forms a network of women that can continuously display works of art as a collective and support each other's individual careers. They seek to contest and transform invisible institutional lines that consciously or unconsciously continue to marginalize black female voices in the art world.[2]

The iQhiya collective has been connected to black feminist theory by recognizing mainstream feminism as a movement that previously tend to excluded the works of black females. Simultaneously, some members of iQhiya speak of black feminism and the importance of narrating black female stories.[2]


  1. ^ "iQhiya: The black female artist collective taking on the art world". Between 10 and 5. Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  2. ^ a b c "BLACK FEMALE ARTISTS WHO REFUSE TO BE HISTORY'S SIDE CHICKS, AND DEMAND TO BE SEEN AND HEARD: "There is strength in women coming together"". Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  3. ^ a b "iQhiya, the Black Female Collective from South Africa". Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  4. ^ "Bronwyn Katz - A Silent Line, Lives Here". Palais de Tokyo EN. 2018-05-25. Retrieved 2018-07-17.
  5. ^ "Bronwyn Katz". Retrieved 2018-07-17.
  6. ^ "Buhlebezwe Kamohelo Siwani". Michaelis School of Fine Art. Retrieved 2018-07-17.
  7. ^ "Everything you need to know about Buhlebezwe Siwani's exhibition in Cape Town". Channel. Retrieved 2018-07-17.
  8. ^ "Thandiwe Msebenzi". Design Indaba. Retrieved 2018-07-17.
  9. ^ "Cast in Colour: Towards an Inclusive South African Art - Revisions". Retrieved 2016-04-09.