/ 4 February 2022

Lebogang Mabusela: Gunz and Makoti bridal technologies

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Lebogang Mabusela, Crown

When I make art, and I have an idea I ask myself: What is the most appropriate medium or practice I can use to articulate this?  Using a variety of formats and methodologies, I have always explored and interrogated gender norms, race and class through the lived experiences/lens of a young black feminist. In 2017 I started a fake bridal outlet that sells weapons.

Makoti: A bridal gifts shop puts my practice in the realm of performance, sculpture/installation and printmaking. In this practice, I am the designer and manufacturer for this bridal shop that sells guns that womxn can use to dismantle patriarchy or rightfully stir some shit, thus making me the inventor for Makoti Technologies™ and director of Makoti: A bridal gifts shop. 

This practice extends to making monotype prints that explore the logic of the black womxn and femininity, through the use of lace and doilies. The monotype prints act as a backdrop for the bridal shop. My thoughts stem from the gender norms perpetuated by Sepedi-Setswana proverbs and realised in stories collected from childhood memory and experiences. Makoti gunz are made from paper, accompanied by a user manual of the breakdown of the gun itself in a humorous tone. The interrogation of such themes has recently been explored further through printmaking and figure drawing/portraiture in the form of monotypes that depict cat-calling in Johannesburg, something I’ve experienced while navigating the city. The series is titled JohannesburgWords.

Lebogang Mabusela, Thunya

This iconic city of Johannesburg allows you the decency to walk everywhere, it gives you the privilege to walk 40 minutes from home, to work, to school or anywhere else, every single day. It is an experience to be enjoyed by the everyday woman, a femme, who does not typically get to enjoy raving about the beauty of Johannesburg. 

It contradicts the reality of navigating within misogynoir, a dangerous space filled with obstacles, sexist roadblocks and patriarchal potholes. This body of work depicts voyeurism and the male gaze expressed through portraiture and text.

In 2020, with the aim of seriously furthering my printmaking skills and solidifying myself as a true monotypebabe, I launched a crowdfunding campaign to buy small manageable printmaking equipment, an E200 etching press that prints works smaller than A4. This is where is started to work on the series Johannesburg Words. The acquisition of the printing equipment also propelled me to collaborate with various artists in challenging them to use an unfamiliar medium and techniques and to also work on a small scale. The project is called The Monotypebabe Curatorial, and I have since collaborated with 21 artists and have curated shows at The Bag Factory artists’ studios, August House artists’ studios and at the Turbine Art Fair