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By - Rachel van Blydenstein




In the newly opened exhibition in JAG’s Nando’s project Room, audiences are introduced to the sensual, ambiguous, slightly androgynous and faintly unsettling works of bondage in Musha Nelvheni’s exhibition entitled Vantage.

At first glance Neluheni’s photographs appear to be oddly comforting in their familiarity. Once one steps into the space, however, it is close to impossible to ignore the deja vu quality that these large photographs of corseted subjects project.

This sense of the familiar does not last long though, as the artist’s works begins tugging at the intended, implied, and understood usage of corsets. It is at this point that all preconceived notions surrounding corsets begin to unravel.

The viewers’ understanding (or misunderstanding) of the concept of corsets being used as a tool by women to enhanced notions of beauty is inverted by Neluheni. The first clue to this remix of notions surrounding corsets comes when one takes a closer look at her models, which, at best, can only be described as suspect. Her models while shot in ambiguous poses (no personal identities are declared) or, their apparent soft looking skin can easily reinforce the preconceived ideals surrounding corsets and those who wear them.

This sense of security begins to unravel when her ribbon clad models reveal themselves to have masculine qualities such as muscular biceps and pulsating veins. Before long the initial attraction of the works metamorphose from that of sensual titillation to that of sensual, androganistic unease.

Musha Neluheni’s works are layered with paradoxes and contractions that force one to grapple with notions of control, freedom, male, female, sight and gaze.

Catch this engaging exhibit before its close on Sunday, 27 September.

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