Artist in Residence: Sethembile Msezane
Multidisciplinary South African artist Sethembile Msezane joins the Sainsbury Centre between March and June 2021, as an artist-in-residence and UEA Global Talent Fellow.
Msezane is well known for her embodiment of Chapungu, the Great Zimbabwe bird, during the removal of the statue of Cecil John Rhodes at the University of Cape Town in 2015. Her artistic practice includes performance, photography, sculpture and film to explore ideas of spirituality, memory and African systems of knowledge. Taking as its starting point an ivory snuff spoon in the Sainsbury Centre collection, Msezane’s project will connect historic objects in UK museum collections and the tobacco ban during South Africa’s recent COVID lockdowns. During her fellowship, Msezane will explore the role of snuff and museum objects as ways of connecting with ancestors.
Based predominantly at the Sainsbury Centre, Msezane will develop an intervention towards the end of her residency. Developed together with UEA host researcher, Chris Wingfield, Associate Professor in the Arts of Africa, this fellowship is the first to be hosted collaboratively between the Sainsbury Centre and the Sainsbury Research Unit. It follows the successful residency of Native North American artist, Sonny Assu, in 2019.
Ghislaine Wood, Acting Director of the Sainsbury Centre said: “Msezane will be engaging with objects in the Sainsbury Centre collection and through her work, will challenge us to understand our collection and its objects in new ways.”
Steven Hooper, Director of the Sainsbury Research Unit said: “We are delighted to be working with a talented artist who will contribute to our collaborative work, bringing ideas and dialogue of mutual benefit.”
Sethembile Msezane said: “If the ghosts in the collection decide to speak, I will listen. If they wish for me to relay the message let it be a dope ass track.”
The fellowship is funded through the UEA Global Talent Research Fellowship.
Image: Sethembile Msezane, Water Bodies – Isinqumo I, 2018 © Sethembile Msezane. Courtesy of the artist