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Nontsikelelo Mutiti

Presented in Season 2 2022

Window Commission
Presented by Arts House

Curated as part of:
And she was wearing trousers: a call to our heroines

Thursday 30 June – Sunday 18 September, 2022
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Arts House
North Melbourne Town Hall
521 Queensberry St,
North Melbourne

Visual Rating 100%
Wheelchair Accessible

Memeza presents the power of gesture and female strength, celebrating the legacies of Southern African Black women.

South African singer, songwriter and activist Brenda Fassie was sometimes known as “the Madonna of the Townships”, “the Queen of African Pop,” and “Ma Brr”.

Artist and educator Nonstikelelo Mutiti now presents Memeza, a stunning visual work inspired by Fassie’s song of the same name.

Images of Fassie’s hands are taken from album covers, posters, music video stills and press photographs, representing iconic gestures of the Black female icon: pointing, praying, punching the air, grasping, clapping and caressing these gestures evoke both Memeza’s lyrical passion and Fassie’s dedication to her people.

The work also features Mutiti’s own graphic typography, with elements built out of letterforms that can be tiled and interchained to produce characters, symbols and patterns with motifs of cornrows, hair braids or plaits. 

This work is presented as part of And she was wearing trousers: a call to our heroines, curated by Roberta Joy Rich and Naomi Velaphi.


Artist Statement

Nontsikelelo Mutiti’s practice traverses the boundaries of fine art, design and public engagement. Works on paper and those rendered as time-based audiovisual explorations incorporate the digital through hand rendered techniques, as well as computer aided and photographic processes. The artist has a keen interest in time-based mediums such as moving image and sound, and thinks through ideas of editing, frequency and volume even as they explore physical forms such as publication design and installation. Mutiti is also preoccupied with traditional practices such as African hair braiding. A major concern of her research is how to speak about such modes of production as technologies. Mutiti’s long term research project RUKA (to knit/ to braid/ to weave) draws parallels between African hair braiding practices and digital image making processes.

About the Artist

Nontsikelelo Mutiti is a Zimbabwean-born visual artist and educator. She is invested in elevating the work and practices of Black peoples past, present, and future through a conceptual approach to design, publishing, archiving practices, and institution building. Mutiti holds a diploma in multimedia from the Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts (ZIVA) and an MFA from the Yale School of Art, with a concentration in graphic design.

And she was wearing trousers: a call to our heroines full program here:

Exhibition – 30 June – 6 August, 2022 

Public Program – 16 July – 23 July

Banner image credit: Detail of Memeza by Nontsikelelo Mutiti
Photography credit: Jody Haines

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And she was wearing trousers: a call to our heroines