Mbali
Dhlamini

MY DESIRE TO UNLEARN AND RELEARN STIMULATES MY WORK.

Mbali Dhlamini - (b.1990) Johannesburg. Currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

A multidisciplinary artist and visual researcher, Mbali is interested in the decolonisation of contemporary African identity making. She works in pastel, charcoal drawings, printmaking and performance art to investigate the relationships between indigenous cultural practices, spirituality, language, colour and the beliefs around each of these themes.

She performs visual, tactile and discursive investigations into current indigenous cultural practices with a view towards decolonising these practices in contemporary culture. Her work is in constant conversation with her past and present, working to maintain a state of unlearning and relearning.

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Mbali completed a two-year printmaking programme at Artist Proof Studio and a National Diploma and BTech in Visual Arts at the University of Johannesburg. She holds an MA from the University of the Witwatersrand.

In 2013, Dhlamini released her first collection, Bomma ba Seaparo, which translates to “mothers of the church”. The installation of reconstructed translucent dresses, a video installation and digital prints explored the relationship between the pre-colonial body and Seaparo (Church garments). It was exhibited at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.

In 2015, her exhibition tilted, Non-Promised Land was featured at Constitution Hill, Johannesburg. Here she explored how colour use within spiritual movements shifted from white colonial and pre-colonial missionary garments to a rainbow of colours as the concept of identity within South African communities become decolonised.

I am inspired by Puo (language), its etymology and how language influences culture, I am also interested in politics of representation, unspoken languages in relation to visual culture. My desire to know more, unlearn and relearn stimulates my work.