Sirithi: Aura of a Woman
is pleased to present Serithi: The Aura of a Black Woman
, a series of photographs by Johannesburg based contemporary photographer, Manyatsa Monyamane, a selection of which was exhibited in a group exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporean Art [Mocada] in Brooklyn.
Monyamane was included last year in our exhibition, Koloane The Teacher: Post- Movements, Post-Memories. With Serithi: The Aura of a Black Woman, Gallery South amplifies and extends this intergenerational dialogue.
Serithi: The Aura of a Black Woman: When a confident black woman struts through a space, her presence is announced by the energy she exudes. Her gait, attire and sheer elegance precede her, forming unshakable, roaring opinions in the minds of those looking on. Such women would have a certain phrase associated with their characters. In the African culture you may hear someone mutter, ‘Mme o, ona le serithi’, which loosely translated to ‘This woman has a powerful aura’. She jolts you from your sense of comfort and compels you to lean forward and take notice of her, for she exists.
This project seeks to emphasize the erasure of black bodies, specifically black women’s bodies, in modern history and that we are not in an age where women of colour are able to start sculpting their own narratives, voices and images; that women of color have never been encouraged to embrace their beings as freely as should have been the case; and that a hypersexual society discourages the full expression of womanhood, particularly in the case of women of colour.
Each woman who contributes to this series brings forth a different personality whilst maintaining a true sense of self This series embraces the multiplicity of characteristics that make each woman intensely unique in terms of her aptitude to embrace everything that comes with being a black woman.
Serithi: The Aura of a Black Woman is exhibited at Gallery South alongside Monyamane’s award-winning pieces from The Unsung Ones, her 2017 series in which the photographer celebrates the undying spirit of resilience of people who constituted the youth of the 1976 generation student and emphasizes the historical value of a community’s elders.
“These are real people who witnessed and experienced the transition of an entire society towards the birth of a new nation [and] who … defined what it means to be a South African today,” she says. Documenting how they define themselves, their beauty and style half a century later, Monyaname captures their enduring humanity and strength. Through the relationships she fosters and the manifest ease she establishes, Monyamane reveals the human truth that their spirit that sustained the nation through its darkest days continues, in transmogrified ways, to carry communities today.
Monyamane is a powerful story teller who conveys universal truths through specifically African narratives and images. She is deliberately producing a Derridean archive of contemporary, everyday African life and meaning, producing a historical mark through which to highlight and thereby honour subjects and people commonly cast aside. That these subjects of Serithi: The Aura of a Black Woman approached the photographer and requested to be included in her project is testimony to the significance of her project, and the deep respect she has for them and which she inspires in return.
Manyatsa Monyamane holds a Btech in Photography and is currently doing her Masters in Fine Arts at Wits University.
Her cutting edge photography has seen her being a finalist at Pop Cap 2016 and in 2017 Multi & New Media Merit Award Winner for the Thami Mnyele Fine Arts Awards and Merit Award Winner of Absa L’Atelier Art Competition which landed her a residency with the Ampersand Foundation in New York. In 2018 she was announced as a finalist for the International Women Photographers Award with a travelling exhibition in Dubai, New Delhi, Tokyo and Paris; also awarded the 2018 US Woordfees Award for Visual Arts category. Monyamane was part of a group exhibition titled HOME: Where I seek I find Myself on show at Mocada in Brooklyn NY in August 2018 and in September on the Photoville 2018 group show with MFON also in Brooklyn. She was named by World Press Photo as one of the six African talents of the fourth edition of the 6x6 Global Talent Program.