Senzeni Marasela

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Senzeni Marasela
Senzeni Marasela self-portrait.jpg
Born(1977-02-11)11 February 1977
Occupation(s)Artist, Author
Years active1997–present
Notable workIjermani Lam (2013-2019)

Senzeni Marasela (11 February 1977) is a South African visual artist born in Thokoza who works across different media, combining performance, photography, video, prints, textiles and embroidery in mixed-medium installations. She obtained a BA in Fine Arts at the Wits School of Arts, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg in 1998. Her work is exhibited in South Africa, Europe and the United States, and part of local and international collections, including Museum of Modern Art or the Newark Museum and is referenced in numerous academic papers, theses journal and book publications.[1][2][3][4][5]


Marasela's work explores the experiences of black South African women across a range of media, including photography, video, prints, and mixed-medium installations involving textiles and embroidery. In her work, she translates memories of struggle and urbanization through the use of material culture and narratives, such as the use of the colour red which refers to cultural memories around the time of the "Red Dust" which refers to a period of drought in the early 1930s in South Africa. Her performances interweave these elements and multi-media works, making visible the dimension of the everyday[6] through objects and clothes.[7] She is known for her six-year performance work Ijermani Lam which "materialises the condition of waiting"[8] by wearing the same red dress every day from the 1st of October 2013 to the 1st of October 2019. The original dresses were part of the group the exhibition "Made Visible. Contemporary South African Fashion and Identity" at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (February–May 2019).[9] Her work taps into cultural memories using printing archival materials such as newspapers and photographs on colonial textiles. It tells stories of black women in South Africa, such as Sarah Baartman or her mother Theodorah Mpofukazi Marasela through series such as Covering Sarah Baartman (2011), Sarah, Senzeni and Theodorah come to Joburg (2011), Theodorah, (2005),[10] Waiting for Gebane (2017), Izithombe Zendawo Esizithandayo (2017) and builds an "intimate archive",[11] giving voice to experiences of Black women.

Early career[edit]

Senzeni Marasela went to St Dominic's School for Girls in Boksburg where she matriculated in 1994. Her mother's collection of doilies and Victorian lace works which were handed down in her family over generations influenced her artistic practice. During a one-day trip in 1992 to the University of the Witwatersrand [12] she decided to enroll there. She developed her multimedia and performative practice at the Wits School of Arts where she graduated in 1998.


Marasela's work is regularly shown since the Martienssen Prize Exhibition in 1997. She was taken up by the Goodman Gallery after being part of the group exhibition Not Quite a Christmas Exhibition. She had a first solo exhibition at the Iziko South African National Gallery's Fresh exhibition series in 2000 which was part of a residency programme. In 2003, she started a long-term performance entitled Theodorah comes to Johannesburg in which is based on stories her mother told about her 11-hour travel from Mvenyane to Johannesburg.(ref)

In 2011 Marasela decided to work as a full-time artist and was part of the Johannesburg Pavilion at 56th Venice Biennale in 2015.



Senzeni Marasela, Waiting for Gebane. Dolly Parton, Toffee Gallery, Darling, South Africa


Sarah, Theodora and Senzeni in Johannesburg. Art On Paper, Johannesburg, South Africa


Senzeni Marasela. Beyond Booty: Covering Sarah Baartman and other Tales. Axis Gallery, New York and New Jersey in association with submerged art, USA


Witness. Art on Paper, Johannesburg, South Africa

Oh my God you look like shit. Who let you out of the house looking like that?, Solo performance, Sternersen Museum, Oslo, Norway

JONGA – Look at Me! A Museum of Women, Dolls and Memories. Devon Arts residency, Devon, Scotland


Theodorah and Other Women. Art on Paper, Johannesburg, South Africa


Three Women, Three Voices. Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa


Upstream Public Art Project. Amsterdam, the Netherlands


Fresh. South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa

Group Exhibitions


I am… Contemporary Women Artists of Africa. Smithsonian National African Museum, Washington, USA

2018 – 2019

Soft Power. Transpalette, Bourges, France


1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair. AFRONOVA, Somerset House, London, UK

Ravelled Threads. Sean Kelly Gallery, New York, USA

1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair. AFRONOVA, Pioneer Works, New York, USA

Investec Cape Town Art Fair. Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town, South Africa


Africa. Raccontare un Mondo. PAC, Milan, Italy

1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair. AFRONOVA, Pioneer Works, New York, USA


1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair. AFRONOVA, Somerset House, London, UK

KIN, HANGAR. Centro de Investigação Artística, Lisbon, Portugal


Ik Beem Afrikander. Johannesburg, South Africa

Contemporary South African Art Exhibition. Yale University, New Haven, USA

Nomad Bodies. Royal Academy of Fine Art, Antwerp, Belgium – Fried Contemporary, Pretoria, South Africa


Weather Report. University of Potchefstroom, North-West Province, South Africa

Africa curating Africa. ABSA Contemporary, Johannesburg, South Africa, (Travelling Exhibition)


Ongoing. Present Tense: Arts of Contemporary Africa. Newark Museum, New Jersey, USA

Red. 5 Pieces Gallery, Berne, Switzerland

ME1. Fried Contemporary, Pretoria, South Africa


New traditions: Louise McCagg & Senzeni Marasela. Collaboration at A.I.R. Gallery, in Association with Axis Gallery and Alma-on-Dobbin, New York, USA

Impressions from South Africa: Printed Art/1965 to Now. The Paul J. Sachs Prints and Illustrated Books Galleries, MoMA, New York, USA

2010 – 2013

Translations into Jewellery. Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa – Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa

2009 – 2011

DARKROOM: South African Photography and New Media 1950 – Present. Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, USA – Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama, USA


Dystopia. Unisa Art Gallery, Pretoria, South Africa – Museum Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa – Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Mangaung, Bloemfontein, South Africa – Jan Colle Galerij, Ghent, Belgium.

Beauty and Pleasure. The Stenersen Museum, Oslo, Norway

Unbounded: New Art for a New Century. Newark Museum, New Jersey, USA

Developing Democracy: A New Focus on South African Photography. Kyle Kauffman, Gallery, New York, USA


Thami Mnyele and Medu Art Ensemble Retrospective Exhibition, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa

Black Womanwood: Icons, Images and Ideologies of the African Body. Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, USA- Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College, Wellesley, USA – San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, USA


Jive Soweto. Hector Petersen Museum, Soweto, South Africa


Ranjith Kally, Senzeni Marasela and Ruth Seopedi Motau at Goodman Gallery[13]


Erase Me from Who I Am. Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain


Click. Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa


Ten Voices, Ten Years of Democracy. Public Art project of the City of Rome, Italy

Public Private. Auckland Public Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand


The Body and the Archive. Artists' Space, New York, USA


Aids in Africa. Wellesley College, Wellesley, USA


Sample E.C. Gertrude Posel Gallery, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Open House Exhibition. Umea Art Academy, Umea, Sweden


Margins in the Mainstream. Namibian National Gallery, Windhoek, Namibia

Translation/Seduction/Displacement: Post-Conceptual and Photographic Work. South African Artists, White Box, New York, USA

Portrait Afrika. Haus der Kulturen Der Welt, Berlin, Germany

Art Region End of Africa. Listafen Reykjavikur Kjarvalsstadir, Reyjavik, Iceland


Market Photo Workshop Exhibition. Rembrandt van Rijn Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa

Postcards from South Africa. Axis Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa

Truth Veils. Getrude Posel Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa


Family Ties. Sandton Civic Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa

Democracy's Images. Bildmusset, Umea, Sweden

Women's Voices. Mercedes Benz Museum, Stuttgart, Germany


Not Quite a Christmas Exhibition. Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa

Martienseen Prize Exhibition. Gertrude Posel Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa



Beijing Biennale, South African Representative, Beijing, China


  1. ^ Clarke, Christa (2017). Hodgson, D. (ed.). Art, Identity, and Autobiography. Senzeni Marasela and Lalla Essaydi. Oklahoma: University of California Press. pp. 221–236. ISBN 9780520287365.
  2. ^ Hudson, Heidi (2015). de Jesus, Angela (ed.). Representations of Otherness and Resistance in Africa. Representations of Otherness and Resistance. Bloemfontein: Johannes Stegman Art Gallery. pp. 4–14. ISBN 978-0-86886-830-1.
  3. ^ Crawshay-Hall, Jayne (2013). Trans-Africa. Africa curating Africa. Johannesburg: Absa Art Gallery. pp. 14–15, 52–53.
  4. ^ Gordon-Chipembere, Natasha (2011). Gordon-Chipembere, Natasha (ed.). Under Cuvier's Microscope: The Dissection of Michelle Obama in the Twenty-First Century. Representation and Black Womanhood. The Legacy of Sarah Baartman. New York: Palgrave MacMillan. pp. 165–180. ISBN 9780230117792.
  5. ^ Richards, Colin (2004). Perryer, Sophie (ed.). Senzeni Marasela. 10 Years 100 Artists. Art in a democratic South Africa. Cape Town: Bell-Roberts. pp. 230–233. ISBN 9781868729876.
  6. ^ Ndebele, Njabulo S. (1984). "Turkish Tales". Staffrider. 6:1: 24–48 – via South African History Online.
  7. ^ Marasela, Senzeni (26 April 2018). "Creative dialogue with Senzeni Marasela". Art on our Mind (Interview). Interviewed by Dr Sharlene Khan. Grahamstown/Makhanda, Eastern Cape, South Africa: Art on our Mind. 00:18:25.
  8. ^ Mwaura, Denis (7 June 2019). "South African Fashion and Identity". AFRICANAH.ORG. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Made Visible". Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  10. ^ "Senzeni Marasela | MoMA". The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  11. ^ Bystrom, Kerry; Nuttall, Sarah (2013). "Private lives and public cultures in South Africa". Cultural Studies. 27:3: 307–332. doi:10.1080/09502386.2013.777295.
  12. ^ Marasela, Senzeni (26 April 2018). "Creative dialogue with Senzeni Marasela". Art on our Mind (Interview). Interviewed by Dr Sharlene Khan. Grahamstown/Makhanda, Eastern Cape, South Africa: Art on our Mind. 00:04:05-00:04:51.
  13. ^ "A R T T H R O B _ R E V I E W S _ G A U T E N G". Retrieved 10 November 2019.