iQhiya, the Black Female Collective from South Africa

[Image description: Art gallery scene. In the background a group of visitors watch a performance. In the middle and foreground, four black women dressed in white stand by red empty bottle cases laid on the floor (one of the women is standing on the case). Two of the women hold in their hands a bottle with a piece of cloth coming out of its neck.]


Tired of being under represented in the South African art world, young female black artists are taking matters in their own hands. 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, the iQhiya collective has just recently presented their first performance piece at the Art Week Cape Town, which began on March 9th.

Iqhiya is the name given to the cloth women use on their heads to support water vessels that they carry, a powerful symbol of black women in the country. Determined to break the art industry monopoly in a culture that favors white male owned galleries and black male artists, the iQhiya collective uses collaborative work to assert their presence in the most important art venues in South Africa. Because united they stand… a much better chance.

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