WOMEN PAVING THE WAY IN VISUAL ART
Written by: Xolisani Khumalo
Visual arts seem to be on par with gender equality in Durban.
According to a research done by popular news network, eNews Channel Africa (eNCA) on whether the state is doing enough to empower women in South Africa, 47% women strongly disagreed, 15% disagreed, 14% agreed and 22% strongly agreed.
Although some people would assume that women are the mostly disadvantaged group in most disciplines, this is not the case in the Durban visual arts space.
Carol Brown, renowned curator and former director of Durban Art Gallery expressed that she has not experienced much gender related difficulties.
“I have never encountered any gender related difficulties. This may be as, in the arts, there is less discrimination than in other sectors,” Brown told Journalismiziko.
Brown also revealed that in her many years in the industry she has seen much recognition being given to women although, the same can’t be said for black female artists.
“In South Africa, female artists have been respected. However, historically, this has not been the case for black female artists,” added Brown.
She further explained why some people might think there aren’t enough women in the visual arts space.
“It could be that in several workshops/training centres females were considered as crafters rather than artists. White females were treated differently and currently we have many successful women artists in South Africa,” explained Brown.
Brown was visual arts adviser to the French/South Africa season in 2012 and 2013, and is currently working in partnership with the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) to curate and produce a large exhibition called ‘Through Positive Eyes’ which is timed to coincide with the International ids Conference opening in Durban in July.
Leevi Arrikum, a third year fine art student at the Durban University of Technology, argues that although it is a normal thing to see women having to put extra effort for recognition, he has had the chance to see his female peers blossom.
“I am a year behind Snethemba who just graduated with the Dean’s Merit (Award), and she is a female. She found her in-service in a heartbeat and this goes to show that we are in an era where women are respected as much,” said Arrikum.
“Your gender and race does not matters, I would say,” he added.
Zinhle Khumalo is a Durban creative who holds a degree in Fine Art, from the Durban University of Technology. She told Journalismiziko that she finds herself in the 22% that agrees that the state is doing enough to empower women.
“Female artists that have been afforded a platform are highly praised and celebrated. The biggest issue for all artists, whether male or female in Durban, is the lack of space and lack of support,” said Khumalo.
She added that perhaps it could be explained that not enough women pursue a career in art.
“But also fact is the male artist does have many more doors open for him than that of the woman artist,” expressed Khumalo.
Khumalo is the official local producer for a photography workshop to be conducted by world-renowned photographer Gideon Mendel also in connection to the AIDS conference. She will also be curating an exhibition show for the KZNSA Gallery about the youth of Durban in August 2016.