by Christine Dixie
South Africa, 2023

Carved and painted onto wood, the artwork shows an interior scene of a woman giving birth.  The mixed media artwork uses a style that is reminiscent of art from the middle ages and includes reference to objects such as the sextant, used for navigation, or views of ships at the seashore. These references to discourses associated with expedition and discovery underscore the exclusion of women from these historical events and act to reinforce the gendered norms played out in the birth process. The artist juxtaposes the image of the harbour, spaces at which the explorer might arrive before proceeding on a journey to an unmapped interior, with the scene inspired by early modern depictions of labour and childbirth. This contrast highlights the idea that birth represents a journey where the child transitions from the enigmatic and primal interior of the mother's body to the realm of civilisation.

Christine Dixie is an established South African artist who regularly exhibits in her home country, the United States, and Europe. She is known for haunting imagery relating to the construction of masculine and feminine roles, exposing how they have been cultivated via myths and image-making. The colonial history that haunts the town of Makhanda has compelled her preoccupation with Europe’s legacy in Africa. In teasing out both of these thematic interests she relies on archival imagery and in-depth research.

This is Gender (In)Equality 2023