Representations of the "other" in selected artworks : re-membering the black male body.
Nyoni, Vulindlela Philani Elliot.
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The depiction of blackness in the visual arts is located in the complex discourse of representation. Blackness within western visual art has been, and continues to be viewed as oppositional to representations of whiteness, and is constantly perceived as other. This dissertation analyses the process of othering and the impact of such a process on the production of artwork in southern Africa, where the representation of the black male, in particular has been subjected to racist ideology, supported by its props, stereotype, generalization and the homogenization of black experience. Using poststructuralist theories of identity construction and power, I analyse stereotype, racism and masculinity in the colonial and postcolonial periods, focussing especially on the internalization of white constructions of blackness within black visual culture. I discuss the work of Baines as representative of colonial constructions of black masculinity, the work of Bhengu, Mapplethorpe and Makhoba as illustrative of the internalization of stereotypic identities, and the work of Voyiya, Harris and Nyoni as representative of resistant discourses of representation of the black male body. I situate the latter within the contemporary debate on questions of subjectivity and agency within the Foucauldian concept of power. I have deliberately chosen works by two American artists (Mapplethorpe and Harris) in order to situate discourses of blackness within a wider context.