Mbali Dhlamini
Untitled – Sénégal, Femme Pourougne , 2017

  • Digital print on textured FineArt rag
  • 100 x 71 cm
  • Acquired in 2021

In the photographs of Mbali Dhlamini, female figures emerge from the blackness of unrecognizable spaces into the foreground, identifiable only by their traditional, indigo-colored garments and by the titles of the images as women from various West African communities. Their skin merges with the darkness of the pictures’ backgrounds; any cultural or personal specificity is dissolved into a no-place of racist connotations. Stereotypical descriptions, like those used in ethnic photographic documents from the colonial era—such as Femme Djallonké, Fille Soussou or Femme Pourogne—withdraw definitively a basic sense of lived individuality from the persons whom we are nonetheless unable to stop seeking in Mbali Dhlamini’s photographs. Dhlamini realizes her critical examination of the erasure of Black individuality and history by means of digitally processing original documentary images.

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