Cape Town  –  On 18 December 2020, Zeitz MOCAA presents a long-due institutional focus on the work of Senzeni  Marasela.    

Marasela, who was born in  Thokoza, South Africa,  is an  artist whose mediums include photography, video, prints, textiles and embroidery. Her work deals with history, memory, and personal narrative, and emphasises historical gaps and overlooked  female  figures.  

Titled  Waiting for  Gebane, the exhibition is an overview of the artist’s practice, and centres around Theodorah  Mthetyane,  Marasela’s  fictional alter ego  who was inspired by,  and is a  femage  to  her  mother.  

Theodorah’s story begins when her husband,  Gebane, leaves her behind in a village in the Eastern Cape when he sets off to work in faraway Johannesburg. After many years of waiting, Theodorah leaves the village for the sprawling city streets to look for her partner. In a series of photographs and textile works,  Marasela  wears her mother’s  yellow  ishweshwe  dress to depict Theodorah’s search for  Gebane  while simultaneously honouring her mother.  

In a  later performance of  the character  that blurs the lines between performativity and everyday life,  Marasela  wore for six consecutive years exclusively the same  red  ishweshwe  dress.  Through Theodorah, the artist sought to explore the  conditions of  waiting and  the  stories  of black women  in South Africa,  to make visible their subjectivities.    

In speaking about the performance,  Marasela  says:  “The idea of having multiple dresses throughout my performance work  for  Waiting for  Gebane, was about an attempt to live or to walk in many shoes. Shoes that were sometimes smaller than mine, bigger than mine, wider than mine.    

“But it was an attempt to multiply this experience, this heavy experience of being a black woman on the continent. And when I do re-enact, I re-enact with the aim of changing, of altering, changing until I find a comfortable position to be in as an artist, as a person.”  

Koyo  Kouoh, Executive Director and Chief Curator at Zeitz MOCAA says: “It is an important moment for us at Zeitz MOCAA to celebrate this artist, in presenting her first museum solo exhibition. That it is a first, is almost unfathomable –  Marasela  has been working consistently and steadfastly on one of the most compelling bodies of work on the African continent by a female artist.  

“What fascinates me about  Marasela’s  work is that it addresses and carries out, by way of re-enactments, a characteristic feature of contemporary life in Africa: waiting. She adds complexity to the act of waiting and translates it into an affecting visual language that is charged with political and historical gravity.”    

Waiting for  Gebane  opens to the public on”¯Friday,”¯18″¯December 2020″¯and will be on view until”¯2″¯May”¯2021.”¯The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of public programmes.  


Exhibition”¯title:”¯Waiting for  Gebane  

Artist: Senzeni  Marasela“¯“¯  

On view:  18  December  2020 – 2 May 2021“¯  

Venue:”¯Level  1, Exhibition Galleries”¯“¯  

Curators:”¯Koyo”¯Kouoh, Storm Janse Van Rensburg, Tammy Langtry“¯