Mary Sibande – I Came Apart at the Seams

Mary Sibande, A Terrible Beauty Is Born (Long Live the Dead Queen Series), 2013. © Copyright of the artist

In her first solo exhibition in the UK, at Somerset House and in partnership with 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Mary Sibande presents a series of photographic and sculptural works exploring the power of imagination and constructive anger in shaping identities and personal narratives in a post-colonial world.

Mary Sibande, I Put A Spell On Me, 2009. © Copyright of the artist

I Came Apart at the Seams follows the transformative journey of Sibande’s avatar, Sophie. Taking form as a series of colourful human-scale sculptures modelled on Sibande herself, Sophie transgresses from her humble beginnings as a domestic housemaid into myriad empowered characters, transcending racial bias and marginalisation. Iterations of these striking installations are also captured in vibrant large-scale photography, documenting Sophie’s journey.

Through these works, Sibande pays homage to the generations of women in her family who worked as domestic labourers. In sharing their previously untold stories, Sibande challenges stereotypical depictions of Black women in post-apartheid South Africa throughout history and today.


Mary Sibande – I Came Apart at the Seams
3 October – 5 January 2020
Somerset House

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