Artwork Title: Untitled - Artist Name: Marieke Swart


Marieke Swart, 2016

The symbol of the Afrikaner woman used to be a central focal point of the Afrikaner Culture in the 19th century. Out of this feministic view, the construct of the “Volksmoeder” was created. She represented a historically based role model of what it meant to be a true Afrikaner, namely in the sense of religion, bravery and a love for freedom. Based on the image of idealised womanhood in the 19th century, her most important attributes were her ability and willingness to suffer and sacrifice for her nation, husband and children. This ideology stood in contrast against gender stereotypes of the woman being passive and decorative. Today this construct has been replaced by Christian-Afrikaans feminism. It is the artists aim to explore and expose the ways in which Afrikaner women are accepted in a normative construction of Christian-Afrikaans femininity whereby gender identities of modern Christian-Afrikaans women are regulated and restricted. She explores the Sarie magazines’ representation of women and the influence on identity construction over the years. Sarie magazine exposes normative patriarchal myths of femininity, the ideal held up by modern Christian-Afrikaans discourse. The modern woman is seen as a super woman. Fashion prescribes that a woman should be a home-maker, a mother for her children, bring money in and still be seductive to her husband. The artist use sponge as a medium as a representation of the role of women in the household. Sponge has minimal aesthetic qualities and is used in household items like in the stuffing in pillows, upholstery, mattresses and items used to clean. When examining the women featured on the covers of Sarie, there is a clear contrast with women on the cover of the Cosmopolitan magazine, which indicates a visual illustration of a seductive, self-assumed and destructive woman. The myth of the prim and proper Christian-Afrikaans woman suggests prudishness, innocence, purity and dignity. In other words, the Christian-Afrikaans woman contrasts starkly with the sensual, sexually liberal, feminine ideal provided on the Cosmopolitan cover. I specifically referred to Cosmopolitan covers which features Afrikaans women. The most dominant figure used by Cosmo is that of miss SA 2012 Melinda Bam. Sponges are sown to a mannequin like tattooed skin.
embroidery on sponge

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