by Lungisa Madywabe
The public space is seemingly democratic. The idea is that it can be used by people without the fear of being discriminated against or questioned. The lived reality is different. This exhibition is about the subtle and overt aggressions experienced when people do not perform to normative binary ideas around gender. South African public spaces are inevitably gendered, and women are expected to conform to stereotypical ideas of what defines womanhood, such as being feminine, docile, agreeable, and subservient. Women who are regarded as acting outside the gender norms considered appropriate are met with aggression and violence, oftentimes from men.
South Africa is a patriarchal heteronormative society. My work is a response to the reactions I am met with due to my perceived gender ambiguity. My daily experience of surveillance and interrogation focusses on my sexuality and the assumption that I am a lesbian. Hate crimes in South Africa are ever-increasing with little media coverage and intervention. The crimes that become public are often of violently murdered lesbian women whose bodies are viciously mutilated. This brutality is not taken seriously and at times the violence is justified as lesbian women are often viewed as amoral.The exhibition, Daily Surveillance, is a multimedia production involving sound, video, and printmaking. It is a montage of autographic and audio pieces that aim to replicate these everyday instances of casual violence within the public domain, and to cross-examine what informs these opinions. The viewer is consciously forced to experience these personal moments of discomfort, apprehension, shock, and suspense.