“She is like family”
“Sy was soos ‘n ma vir my”
“Sy’s nader aan my as ‘n suster”
A phrase that at once brings you into one’s close and intimate circle and in the same instance sets you apart…
Ena Jansen, acclaimed author, takes an interdisciplinary look at the history of domestic workers in South African literature and the visual arts, as explored in this exhibition. Soos Familie – Stedelike huiswerkers in Suid-Afrikaanse tekste, was published in 2015. The theme struck a chord with the international broader community. In 2016 it was translated to Dutch under the title, Bijna Familie.
Wits University Press recently published Like Family in 2019.
To be at once endeared and overlooked, the thread of iconic female figures present in Jansen’s book are celebrated by NAME. In the disciplines of visual arts, illustration and poetry this exhibition highlights the work of artists Penny Siopis, Marlene Dumas, Huw Morris, Claudette Schreuders, Senzeni Marasela, Irma Stern, Sandra Kriel, Ingrid Winterbach, David Goldblatt, Mary Sibande, William Kentridge, Madam & Eve creators and Antjie Krog.
In the author’s own words Soos Familie / Like Family is a blend of sociology, history and literary analysis of an array of fictional and nonfictional stories. In a sense, the book may be regarded as a biography of domestic workers (women and labour). Recent South African produced screenplays like Krotoa and Die swerfjare van Poppie Nongena, global movements like #MeToo #ImStaying all unpack and question long raised contentious issues that surfaces in the narrative of the featured artwork, and in the same breath evokes nostalgic feelings regarding the interpersonal relationships and bonds formed through the presence of these iconic figures.
This exhibition was in collaboration with TOYOTA US Woordfees 2020 and formed part of the Writers Festival Programme with author Ena Jansen. It was made possible with generous loans from Goodman Gallery, Irma Stern Museum and Trust, Iziko South African National Gallery, Madam & Eve Creators, Pretoria Art Museum, SMAC Art Gallery, Southern Art Collection, Private and Artist Collections.