Redressing Vogue seeks to uncover and expose the sexist and racist ideologies and practices that informed the making of this 1955 Vogue supplement. On the surface this 1955 Vogue supplement is an innocent representation of glamour, however, the world it depicts is populated solely by white people, a manifestation of apartheid’s ideological goals – that leisure and luxury be reserved for them. In its failure to reflect a larger, and more diverse South African context, it denies both the existence of black bodies, and their participation in, and contributions to fashion.
This exhibition creates connections between the content, and gaps, of the 1955 Vogue and fragments of South African history and the South African present. In so doing, inserting the stories and bodies of the many silenced and ignored by ‘white’ spaces such as Vogue. Whilst this 1955 Vogue supplement was entering circulation in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Salisbury (now Harare), the community of Sophiatown was being forcibly removed to Meadowlands, the first of many communities to experience the horrors of the Group Areas Act.
As part of a generation that has encountered this history through inherited memory, storytelling and an ongoing societal debris, I have engaged both the form and strategy of collage with the aim of addressing the fragmentary nature of identities and histories that, often, fail to tell the nuanced and complicated stories of the marginalized. The redressed Vogue, presented here, is now filled with fragments of popular culture, political history and contemporary art and fashion. Ultimately, by considering the erasure of black bodies in this magazine and the erasure of black bodies through forced removals, the brutality of the latter becomes evident and visible in the former.
With thanks to Professor Fritha Langerman | Dr Erica de Greef | Professor Pippa Skotnes | Professor Siona O’Connell | Niek de Greef | Nina Liebenberg | Clement Jansen | Mogola Segoaa | Queezy | Kevin Nair | Dawn Chetty | Priscilla David| Fazlin van der Schyff