2019 08 27 15 45 20

Culture, a semiotic cultural psychology. We are born in this paradigm that is defined from the viewpoint of cultivation, the meaning manufacture process that give meaning to the world, interesting. Most say individuals are not simply a process machine in an empty world, there are both external outcomes of meaning making as well as the collective influence on the cultivating process. One must look at these external influences that catalyze future cultivation processes. By examining the power of the external and group-internal (myths, morals). Is this what we experiencing in the contemporary setting? Culture should instinctively benefit both gender, male and female, right? How do I say I am a cultural man, when I am benefiting from an agent of so called culture, women? We are born in an environment that is deceiving in the name of culture, Mosadi tia! (Women toughen up), Mosadi wa mamella lenyalong! (A women must be strong in marriage regardless) Mosadi o hlokomela monna wa hae hore a kgotsofale! (A woman takes care of her husband till his satisfied), Monna ha botswe otswa kae bosio! (A man can’t be questioned his whereabouts at night or where is from), I guess these are attributes of culture that every women should be born with? Uneven equilibrium. My exploration started from a young age when I lost my mother to toxic a cultural norms. My grandmother used to say to my mother, “Kgohlella, phumula dikeledi o mosadi wa Mosotho, o sefatlheho sa motse, batho batlareng when you cry? (Wipe your tears, you’re a Sotho women and the face of your family, what will people say). I was a young boy confused and questioning myself, Should my mother die in the hands of my father? Do you sort out your wife if she doesn’t agrees with you? Is this Culture? Unfortunately I am still confused at this present dispensation by traditional cultural practices and beliefs, some of which are beneficial to all members, while others have become harmful to a specific group, such as women. These harmful traditional practices include early and forced marriages (Ukuthwala as practised currently), virginity testing, widow’s rituals, ‘u ku ngena’ (levirate and sororate unions), female genital mutilation (FGM), breast sweeping/ironing, the primogeniture rule, practices such as ‘cleansing’ after male circumcision, and witch-hunting. Despite their harmful nature and their violation of national and international human rights laws, such practices persist because they are not questioned or challenged and therefore take on an aura of morality in the eyes of those practising them and because it’s “culture”.


I am still exploring morals, identity, stereotypes, gender and all characteristics that determines culture using recycled ceiling board with charcoal, pastels, tipex, pencil and anything that can make a mark to ease out my confusion and continue exploring…My artistry explores the concept that brings back goosebumps of everyday scenery involving females falling victim to men owned culturally paradigm. I explore the attribute of sexual display or should I say private display. Every man culturally is acceptable to display any body part but comes to a woman, it’s seductive, it’s inappropriate, it’s inhumane to the public, it’s too good not to touch it, It’s bitchy, it’s adultery, it’s a disvaluing of self…With my current work titled: If you didn’t show undress, I wouldn’t have to… 2019, I seek to explore how the balance of power in culture works, and how the less fortunate feel or looks like. My exploration continues, and everyday question myself how it feels to be in her shoes. Who has the most power to write and declare right and wrong, women of men


With my portraiture concept I reflect on the outer image and the inner image of myself. I go beyond the surface to try and find my own identity and question my everyday existence. I question what it is that make us who we are. In my recent work, ke Mohumagadi? (Am I the Empress?) I seek to re-construct portraiture art using deconstructed memories of my mother. What I eventually find in the blended memories is that I am them but they are not me.
I create to learn more about myself and the world I live in. I seek answers from my work, although usually the questions that I set out to answer only find more questions. My work is inspired by the desire to learn, discover and explore. I use recycling to create. Mostly, I work with chalk, burned wood, pastels etc. My process begins with thought through meditation, then research and writing before it begins to take form as a visual project. I follow an idea or concept where it leads me, and often end up somewhere quite unexpected. During my childhood in school, before I came to Johannesburg. My hair being the biggest issue, I was always “messy” they say, even though I tried so hard to comb it, it turned out to be the same. The worst part of it was that it always changed colour, from black to browny red and grew very coarse, nappy, and coiled. My teachers always took it upon themselves to shave it off whenever it grew out as they believed that it was ugly and it needed to look like the other learners hair in the class. This made me feel uncomfortable as it felt like they were removing part of my identity. Every boy and girl I attended school with looked similar. They had the same hair styles: chemical straightening of girl’s hair and clean shaved heads of boys. I couldn’t manage to keep up with this. I had to lose a sense of myself to fit in.


The battles I faced with my hair in school was one of the issues I had to learn to overcome. If you are always fighting to maintain what you are not, you will always lose the battle, but if you are fighting to maintain self, you can always expect to be victorious. When I was going to university, this was one of the teachings that lead me to grow my locks. Because my hair was already locking itself naturally, I decided to nurture them. Unfortunately this brought about a different form of discrimination against my hair. Now I became associated with negative connotations. I was classified as drug dealer, “lebaida” (a beggar), “ngaka ya ditaola e loyang” (a witch doctor) and “legodu” (a thief).


In this contemporary society hair is everything. People pay thousands of rands and other currencies to maintain hair, even go on a path to buy natural hair itself. As anyone who’s gotten a really good or bad haircut knows, hair is so much more than just a look: it can be a reflection and reinforcement of who you are. Sometimes your hair speaks for you, even when you don’t say a thing. It’s intensely personal, but it’s also totally public. We can change it so easily in ways that we can’t change any other part of our body. It becomes a reflection of who that person is, and a sign of our identity. My interest in drawing portraits of people rocking natural hair in any form and style, with a modern/contemporary look is influenced by old Rastafarianism movement versus the modern version. The pride in it, is how Rastafarians emancipated from the past and constructed unshakable barrier of negative connotation towards the movement. I am also pride to engage with the contemporary concept of hair across South Africans and worldwide imagery.


Ras Silas Motse


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