Thandiwe Msebenzi

Utata Undiphotha Inwele – My Father Plaits My Hair

The work explores my experiences of growing up in a strong matriarchal family, where women took agency and constantly resisted against forms of oppression of any kind against them. In the same setting of my upbringing I was surrounded by soft men who were trying to navigate their sense of self, in a society that encouraged them to engage in violent ways to validate their masculinities. One of my fondest memories of child-hood, is having my father plait my hair in the evenings before I went to school. He did this so I would not have to comb my hair in the morning. While my grand mother went to work every morning with a weapon in her bag for self defense, also a single mother and bread winner of five children. The work renders these experiences and memories by exploring unpopular alternative genders roles that people around me were consistently negotiating, often always at the expense of being marginalised. I also look at games we played as young children were young girls negotiated their agency, the teasing that would happen, which would further perpetuate societies rigid gender norms when girls or boys crossed over to participate in each others games.

About the Artist

Artist Website

Thandiwe Msebenzi a graduate of the University of Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Fine Art, Thandiwe received the prestigious Tierney Photography Fellowship Award in 2014. In 2015 she became a founding member of the iQhiya collective, exhibiting with the group at the AVA Gallery, FNB Joburg Art Fair and Documenta 14 in Greece and Germany. In 2016 Thandiwe was selected for the ABSA L’Atelier top ten, completing a four month residency at the Cape Town School of Photography which led to her first solo exhibition titled Awundiboni (You Don’t See Me). This exhibit used a series of evocative self-portratis to address the ways in which violence against women pervades both public and intimate private spaces. In 2017 Thandiwe took the stage as a speaker at Cape Town’s Design Indaba and at the Dutch Design Week. In 2018 she was chosen for the prestigious Magnum Foundation Photography and Social Justice fellowship. In 2019 she took part in the World press Photo Joot swart master class. In 2020 she is part of the Regeneration exhibition. Thandiwe was at Greatmore Studios in Woodstock for three years. Her work has been featured in the Bubblegum Club, Between 10 and 5, Lens Scratch and Culture Trip among other publications.