Sethembile Msezane was born in 1991 in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. She lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa.
She was awarded a Masters in Fine Arts in 2017 from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, where she also completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2012.
Using interdisciplinary practice encompassing performance, photography, film, sculpture and drawing, Msezane creates commanding works heavy with spiritual and political symbolism. The artist explores issues around spirituality, commemoration and African knowledge systems. She processes her dreams as a medium through a lens of the plurality of existence across space and time, asking questions about the remembrance of ancestry. Part of her work has examined the processes of mythmaking which are used to construct history, calling attention to the absence of the black female body in both the narratives and physical spaces of historical commemoration.
Msezane’s work has been widely exhibited across South Africa and internationally, and forms part of South African museum collections such as Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town; the Iziko South African National Gallery,Cape Town; and the University of South Africa (UNISA), Johannesburg. In 2015, during protests by the Rhodes Must Fall Movement, she presented the performance Chapungu – The Day Rhodes Fell at the removal of the Cecil John Rhodes statue at the University of Cape Town.
In 2019, the artist mounted her first UK solo exhibition, Speaking Through Walls, at Tyburn Gallery, and well as presenting her newest performance piece, Signal Her Return III, at New Art Exchange in Nottingham, UK. Recent solo presentations include All Things Being Equal…, Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, South Africa (2017) and Kwasuka Sukela, Gallery MoMo, Cape Town, South Africa (2017).
Recent group exhibitions include Made Visible: Contemporary South African Fashion and Identity, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston MA, USA (2019), Dancing on a Volcano, Lagos Photo Festival, Lagos, Nigeria (2018), L’envol, La Maison Rouge, Paris, France (2018), Not a Single Story, NIROX Foundation, South Africa, and Wanås Konst, Sweden (2018), Cape to Tehran, Gallery MoMo, Cape Town, South Africa (2018); The Winter Sculpture Fair, Nirox Foundation Sculpture Park, Johannesburg, South Africa (2017); Re[as]sisting Narratives, Framer Framed, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2016); Women’s Work, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa (2016); Dance, if you want to enter my country! / Global Citizen, GoetheOnMain, Johannesburg, South Africa (2016) and iQhiya, The AVA Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa (2016).
In 2018, she staged a performance for the ICA Arts Live Festival in Cape Town, as well as performing at the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen, as part of the conference Changing Global Hierarchies of Value? Museums, artifacts, frames, and flows, organized in association with the University of Copenhagen. She also performed at dOCUMENTA 14 in 2017 in both Athens, Greece, and Kassel, Germany, as part of iQhiya Collective. The same year, she was a speaker at the TED Global conference held in Arusha, Tanzania. She has participated residencies including the Sylt Foundation Emerging Artist Residency, Sylt and Künstlerhäuser Worpswede, Germany (2017), and the Situate Arts Lab Residency, Hobart, Australia (2016).