A Reverse Retrogress: Scene 1 (2013)

Mary Sibande
A Reverse Retrogress: Scene 1
Fibreglass mannequins and cotton textile with suspended installation of creatures (polyester fibrefill stuffing and cotton fabric)
Dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist


Mary Sibande engages counter- historical narratives and the language of dress to animate the stories of South African women and critique western imperialist depictions of their lives. A Reverse Retrogress: Scene 1 (2013) features her alter ego, Sophie, whose many incarnations speak to Sibande’s mother’s and grandmother’s experiences under apartheid. In this work, Sophie takes on the cultural role of a maid while facing a purple figure surrounded by a cloud of embryonic beings, the colour signifying the 1989 Purple Rain anti-apartheid protest in Cape Town. The assemblage reveals the tension between a colonial past and postcolonial present.