Contemporary Female Identities in the Global South

Contemporary Female Identities in the Global South presents five leading contemporary artists whose work engages with complex questions of identity in the 21st century. The exhibition explores new ways of representing the body by women artists from the Global South.

The exhibition posits a realm in which the female subject is free to explore worlds of her own choosing: real, imagined, symbolic or concrete. Most importantly, the figures and images produce a new understanding of the agency of women in the Global South.


Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, the Joburg Contemporary Art Foundation has made a decision to postpone the public opening of the exhibition until further notice. This is a precautionary measure to support the health of our community, partners and staff. We are closely monitoring developments and will reschedule the opening of the exhibition when appropriate. We will continue to keep you informed via our website and social media. In the meantime, we encourage everyone to take precautions and stay healthy.

Bharti Kher

Bharti Kher is based in New Delhi. Her work explores cultural misinterpretations, social codification and hybridity. She has come to be known for the use of the bindi as a central motif in her work, which often explores the link between tradition and modernity and is deeply concerned with the role, experiences and conceptualisations of women in India.

Bharti Kher, Warrior with cloak and shield (2008). © Bharti Kher. Image courtesy the artist. Photo Guillaume Ziccarelli

Nandipha Mntambo

Nandipha Mntambo lives and works in Johannesburg. Working in photography, sculpture, video and mixed media, she explores the interconnectedness of human and animal, feminine and masculine, and attraction and repulsion. Her work tests and challenges perceived antitheses, while also exploring female experiences in and of the body.

Nandipha Mntambo, What Remains (2019). © Nandipha Mntambo. Image courtesy Stevenson, Johannesburg and Cape Town

Wangechi Mutu

Wangechi Mutu lives and works in Nairobi and New York. Her films, sculptures, collages, installations and paintings explore femininity, violence, consumerism and excess, and the intersection of nature and culture, frequently challenging depictions of women and the female body throughout history.

Wangechi Mutu, A Dragon Kiss Always Ends in Ashes (2007). © Wangechi Mutu. Image courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

Shirin Neshat

Shirin Neshat is an Iranian artist based in New York. She works in photography, film and video, on themes such as gender, identity and politics, examining the contrasts between Islam and the West, and the spaces in between.

Shirin Neshat, Soliloquy (1999), film still. © Shirin Neshat. Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

Berni Searle

Berni Searle lives in Cape Town and works in the time-based media of photography, video and film. In her performative narratives, the self is a figure that embodies history, land-memory and place. Often politically and socially engaged, her work also draws on the universal emotions associated with vulnerability, loss and beauty.

Berni Searle, Lament IV (2011). © Berni Searle. Image courtesy the artist