Celebrating the achievements of women

Portia Zvavahera

Portia Zvavahera

The National Gallery of Zimbabwe will be joining the rest of the world in commemorating the International Women’s Day through its exhibition, “Out of Darkness”.

The exhibition will run from March 21 to April 20.

“Out of Darkness” is an exhibition which seeks to interrogate the role the woman has played in our society and why nowadays the women are generally viewed as weak and unworthy of respect.

In keeping with the worldwide theme, “Make it Happen”, the NGZ also has its sub-theme for this day, “Celebrating the achievements of women whose role has been overlooked for centuries throughout the world.”

This exhibition explores the rites of passage for Zimbabwean women by bringing women’s history and gender issues into the centre of contemporary art. This is a flourishing field of inquiry and has attracted a lot of attention worldwide.

Women have fought to protect their homes, their children, womanhood, and their sexual integrity and they should be celebrated.

Society and state have worsened woman’s lot with marked divisions of home, families and property.

Arguably nationalist ideology set woman up as victim and goddess simultaneously making woman the allegory for the failure to coordinate the political and historical within an undivided individual capacity.

The exhibition seeks to provide an opportunity for the women artists to tell their story using different mediums; sculpture, painting, photography, new media and installation.

“Women artists are known to work in a variety of media and their narratives have been able to reveal important aspects of the female situation sometimes as actors and at others as observers,” said the NGZ executive director, Doreen Sibanda on the first edition of this exhibition in 2014.

“Many female artists confine themselves to these broad narratives made colourful by their life experiences, though at times, some choose to explore what it might be like to be the others.”

By speaking, women reveal the complexity that is woman located in the multiplicities of economic deprivation, tribe, colour, familial and gender relations; a multiplicity that is importantly located in the physical and social conditions of everyday life that women experience.

Today the identity of women is fluid, often seeming incomplete and Out of Darkness exhibition is an exhibition to question the state of womanhood.

The stereotypical views of women propagated by the patriarchal hegemony ignored the women who have been strong and leaders in their own right; women who have led movements and nations.

These include women like Mbuya Nehanda, Nefertiti, Queen Nzinga, Cleopatra, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Angela Davis, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and a whole lot of unacknowledged heroines of the constant fight to better the plight of women.

“Although the show cannot claim to be totally representative of the diverse voices of the women of Zimbabwe, it largely presents the female artists that take themselves seriously and are currently active in pursuit of their expressions in different parts of the country, Sibanda said.

“It is our fervent hope that this show would become an annual platform as its mere existence has already encouraged many female artists to come forward and be seen.”

Each year International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8. The first International Women’s Day was held in 1911.

Thousands of events occur to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Organisations, governments, charities, educational institutions, women’s groups, corporations and the media join hands to celebrate the day.

To date Zimbabwe has produced many successful women artists. These include top woman stone sculptor Agnes Nyanhongo, Locardai Ndandarika and the late Coleen Madamombe.

In painting two young women artists are making waves all around the world with their feminist centred works that have recently been received in South Africa, South America, France, London and New York. These are Portia Zvavahera and Virginia Chihota.

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