We acknowledge that our stories, dialogues and experiences take place on the lands of the Wurundjeri Woiwurrung and Boonwurrung peoples of the Kulin Nation, and acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded; we benefit and live upon stolen lands.

And she was wearing trousers: a call to our heroines brings into focus some of the many women who defined, defied or described Southern African culture from the seventeenth century to today through a series of premieres and new commissions. Installations, film, performance and conversations unearth often-forgotten feminists, exploring ideas of identity, connection, distance and self. The forms of inquiry taken here are as diverse as the experiences of the women behind them. Working from archives across independent publishers, oral histories, public and private, the academy and the internet, the women Brenda Fassie, Dorothy Masuka, Krotoa, Thenjiwe Lesabe, Queen Lozikeyi and figures alike have served as catalysts into an imagined world by which hope, loss, love and determination are explored.

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A PDF of the exhibition catalogue can be downloaded here.


Call and Response: Dialogues and making across continents, Roberta Joy Rich in conversation with artists blk banaana, Rara Zulu, Jabu Nadia Newman and Kirsty Marillier

16 July, 5:30pm, AEST


Join co-curator Roberta Joy Rich in conversation with local and international artists Rara Zulu, Kirsty Marillier, Jabu Nadia Newman and blk banaana, reflecting and sharing about their creative process across shores. A curatorial theme within the exhibition, ‘Call and Response’ endeavours to engage in cross continent dialogues between African diaspora and African artists of the southern region. At the genesis of And she was wearing trousers, Roberta and co-curator Naomi Velaphi initiated research of southern African heroines and their legacies as a platform for inquiry into art making. African continent based artists, Jabu Nadia Newman and blk banaana respond to the works of Kirsty Marillier and Rara Zulu. Call and Response: Dialogues and making across continents delves deeper into process, relationships to heroines and the significance of connecting community across shores.

When art meets the music: Reflections on Black archiving, Samira Farah and Zara Julius in conversation

20 July 6:00pm AEST


Join local broadcaster and curator Samira Farah with South African based artist and selector Zara Julius in conversation about the impact of southern African women in music and working within such archives. Beginning with Nontsikelelo Mutiti’s work Memeza that employs archives of Brenda Fassie images, to the title of the exhibition And she was wearing trousers, a lyric from a Dorothy Masuka song, Samira and Zara converse together about their experiences navigating African sound archives. Both known for their practices with sound archives, the two traverse archives that are often held in monolithic institutions, compromised by colonial methodologies, or research alternative frameworks, seeing past media and reductive narratives to find and unearth the strength and spirit of African histories. Samira and Zara discuss how such archives not only allow artists an opportunity to reanimate and create new work, but are integral for access to such knowledge for the descendents of their respective and relative communities.  

Matriarchs and knowledge systems: Past, present and future, Naomi Velaphi in conversation with Sethembile Msezane and Tariro Mavondo

20 July, 5:30pm, AEST


Join co-curator Naomi Velaphi in conversation with local artist Tariro Mavondo and South Africa based artist Sethembile Msezane discuss the significance and presence of African women and African knowledges that motivated the creation of their works presented within And she was wearing trousers. As artists both influenced by performance practice and matriarchal figures they will unpack how traditional knowledge, artmaking and power intersect. What voices are centered through this process and what are the challenges of presenting feminist work as Bla(c)k women?