And she was
wearing trousers:
a call to our heroines

Sethembile Msezane

ISIMO (2020)

ISIMO is a short film that takes place against the backdrop of Hoerikwaggo, commonly known as Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. An ancestral matriarchal figure feels and holds the pain of the living in her womb. She diagnoses the world as we know it as being ill, disconnected from nature and in need of healing. The work acknowledges that the world struggled with physical, mental or spiritual wellness before the current pandemic. It also recognises the adverse effects of colonialism that pervades and continues to haunt society.
A dark room with lit wooden vitrine, green bench, and a large projection of a women sitting within a burnt tree environment.
Through a curriculum of ancient indigenous knowledge that is informed by ideas of the late prophet, sangoma and author Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa, the ancestral matriarch reminds us that even in adversity we need to continue to live. Even through the socio-political adversities located internationally and in Africa, she suggests that the remedy is to filter through the noise and continue to exist in that which is fulfilling.
A dark room with lit vitrines, one with books, one with fabric. A projection in background shows an African women wearing white followed by children walking towards stairs in an outdoor environment.

Film. Dimensions 4.27m x 2.4m. Duration: 16:19.

Installation views of ISIMO at Arts House, 2022.

A black and white portrait of an African woman, wearing a pleated cropped top with a collar and large earrings. Her hair is tied up as she looks towards the right, with her hands by her hips on her skirt..

Sethembile Msezane was born in 1991 in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. She lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa. She was awarded a Masters in Fine Arts in 2017 from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. Msezane’s work has been widely exhibited across South Africa and internationally. Using interdisciplinary practice encompassing performance, photography, film, sculpture and drawing, Msezane creates commanding works heavy with spiritual and political symbolism. The artist explores issues around spirituality, commemoration and African knowledge systems. She processes her dreams as a medium through a lens of the plurality of existence across space and time, asking questions about the remembrance of ancestry. Part of her work has examined the processes of mythmaking which are used to construct history, calling attention to the absence of the black female body in both the narratives and physical spaces of historical commemoration.