Mary Sibande’s Sculptures Create a Connection Between Domestic Servant and the Sublime

Mary Sibande’s Sculptures Create a Connection Between Domestic Servant and the Sublime

 

Usually, I think of the sublime as a feeling of awe prompted by a vastness or an eternal existence, like landscapes or empty spaces. But there’s another kind, one that turns up unexpectedly, when the mundane is presented in an almost worshipful way.

Such is the work of Mary Sibande, a South African sculptor using fabric, photography, and molds of her own body to create a beautiful and, yes, sublime portrait of domestic servitude that transcends the idea of both occupation and the word, “service.” The trappings are there, but the images and traditions are both transformed into something more.

In her own words, which are much better than mine, she explains the origin of her recent work.

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