afronova gallery dimakatso mathopa

Born in Mpumalanga in 1995. Lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Mathopa obtained her at the University of Johannesburg in 2019.

Mathopa’s interest in the printmaking techniques such as Van Dyke Brown or Silkscreen made her discover the Cyanotype process, an old monochrome photographic printing process which gives a cyan-blue print. Mathopa has been transforming her concept- photographs into cyanotype prints and began her recent ongoing series, Individual Beings Relocated. With this body of work Mathopa questions how colonialism has influenced the representations of  black women and unpacks the historical portrayals as well as the stereotypes that have instigated the narratives within a South African context. Mathopa has always been concerned with the depiction of the black body within photography and that’s how she started to perform an alter ego named Diana. Diana is inspired by her late grandmother.

 » My grandmother told me the story of how my grandfather inherited land from a white man during apartheid in the mid-80s. The white man didn’t know much about the area of Free State, so my grandfather was the one that would help him and take care of the land. He grew very fond of my grandfather and when he relocated to the Netherlands he gave my grandfather the land as a gift. That household was so colonial, my grandmother told me how she felt she did not fit in that space. As a black woman at that time, it was foreign to have such a lot of land and occupy such a colonial setting. Yet, she was forced to be the matriarch of that household.

My grandmother’s battle with occupying space related to my interest in how the black subject has been historically portrayed in art, society, and media. Colonialism and imperialism are the reasons why black people were perceived in a certain way. Looking at women from a historical context, such as Saartije Baartman, and how she was subjected to becoming an object on display – simply because her physique was different from European women. I want to subvert the historical narrative of black subjects and objects in my work in the context of contemporary society.

I began visiting a historical colonial open house in Oakland Park as the setting for my work. I went into that space alone and occupied it to the fullest. I had to put on the persona of my grandmother and my late mother, while at the same time subverting their personas by making myself look as if I really was the matriarch of that space. »

These cyanotype/ self portraits subvert the colonial gaze and emphasize on the importance of the black subject occupying space, regardless of it’s societal representation.