digital video, 13’01”
Courtesy of the artist and Madragoa, Lisbon
Courtesy of Marval Collection
Through her artistic practice and work as a Sangoma, or traditional healer, Buhlebezwe Siwani addresses forms of spiritual knowledge in relation to place and land that have been maintained and transmitted in defiance of Christian missionization, colonial displacement and violence in southern Africa. The video AmaHubo, whose title is taken from the Zulu word for the Psalms chapter of the Bible, creates a ritual and narrative space that recounts, through performative and bodily languages, the dispossession from land and cultural practices to which local communities have been subjected. In 1895 in what was then Cape Colony, a witchcraft suppression act (based on that applied in England 160 years before) was imposed to enable missionaries working with the government to force people to relinquish their practices. The installation also features the sculpture Ibutho, which takes the form of a woollen belt worn by spiritual leaders and also resembles an umbilical cord, evoking the practice of burying this in a significant location when a child is born, and the strength that comes from a sense of place. In these works, the artist brings into a space of visibility the resilient forms of knowledge and spirituality communally cultivated by women in her homeland.