/ 9 July 2021

The Portfolio: Stories of our Soil explores womanhood, nature and exploitation

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‘Spell of the Sensuous’: Ruzy Rusike in a performance piece by Bongi Bengu and Monique Mrazek. Photo: The Melrose Gallery

Stories of Our Soil is a collection of artworks showing at The Melrose Gallery during Womxn’s Month, August 2021. This collection is an amalgamation of womxnhood, nature, our place within it, and how both have been exploited by our society. From an inner space, each of these artists has created raw portrayals of the problems that a colonial, capitalist-structured society has placed on our shoulders but, importantly, each also conveys a message of hope on how to overcome these societal ills. 

Both womxn and nature have been viewed as tools and objects to be used in the pursuit of fame, fortune, money and power. Our consent is discarded; our intimacy violated. Our rights are up for debate in public forums. We are told to stay in our lanes, to accept the roles that society has bestowed upon us, not to rock the boat, not to question authority, to buy the newest products, and to accept with meek passivity the colonial echoes that continue to affect us down the ages. 

We hear this incessant chatter, born from a history of colonial capitalism that has percolated through time, but we have missed out on listening to our human spirit in favour of the clamouring tintinnabulation of capitalist greed, racial disparity, and individualistic fame and glory. 

Our role as womxn has been dictated. Our planet has been poisoned. And our bodies have been used. We must confront the subjugated role that we have been allotted by society. We want to take this coming Womxn’s Month to explore our shared humanity — that which connects each of us through both time and space — and examine how we can rectify how it has gone wrong. Womxn’s Month was intended as a starting point for reflection; we must take the time to reflect on the stories of our soil through texts, images and history.

We must be the harbingers of change in our world, but none of us can do it alone. Nature is in constant flux: it is ever-changing — growing, mutating, decaying and regrowing. We must do the same. Once we have borne the trauma of what has happened to us, we must decide to begin again and change ourselves. This show is itself a portrayal of how to overcome societal constraints. It is a coming together of artists who want to reject the paths that society has chosen for them; it is an inwardly focused exploration of the deepest parts of our souls; and it is an acknowledgement of the elements that tie us together as a collective, rather than separate us as individuals. 

The month-long programme will include an exhibition of artworks across genres and will also be presented online. For more information, go to themelrosegallery.com.