Artist’s Bio

For many years, my work has focused on the notion of

feminine energy and the creation of alternative identities for women within current patriarchal systems. This has most often been inspired by the position of the Hindu goddess Kali, who represents a fierce and ferocious form of the female within my production. This goddess has been my most immediate reference to the idea of a mythological powerful female that resonates with the conceptual framing of this show.

While the interest in mythology and use of Kali as a point of departure has not changed in my work, this show offered a progression from the artist’s earlier thinking about these positions of the female. The Two talking Yonis aimed to present a set of questions that addressed the idea of re- looking, re-examining and re-investigating this position of the female. This was achieved through installation of a series of works that took place in three different venues. Those being: Constitution Hill (Women’s Jail), Room Gallery, and Kalashnikovv Gallery.

All of these shows explored different symbolic elements of goddess energy such as the tongue and vagina or yoni, depictions and explorations of Kali’s portrait through the artist’s eyes, and the mythology of Kali in relation to issues of identity, by referencing classical Indian dance. Working with the curator Nontobeko Ntombela, this show worked as a platform for discussing issues related to my obsession with Kali as a form of female defiance. Ntombela’s interest in my work is premised on the complex questions about the forms of representation of ‘this female energy’. As the title of the exhibition The Two Talking Yonis suggests, over a

period of a year Chhiba and Ntombela were engaged in

discussions about the work that was produced during that time. In turn this shaped the manner in which the project evolved and manifested.

These discussions were also centred around the yoni as a creative space, not just as a space of birth, rather as a space of power and defiance. These spaces, as we considered them, were spaces of complexity that spoke to the yoni as a metaphor and an abstract idea. In that moment the yoni became a space of criticality, protest, mockery, battle and femininity. This obsession and regurgitation of the yoni was and is a reaffirmation of femininity that talks about a mass identity, the global yoni and thus a global femininity, power and defiance. Performance is a constant thread in my visual art aesthetic; that which can be traced through the process of sewing  into the sari, dance used to interpret the different manifestations of Kali, and the making of the yoni. These processes thus set up a conversation between tradition  and contemporary, mythology and reality, feminine and masculine, black and Indian, artist and curator, as some of the main concerns that this show addressed. The show also dealt with critiquing exhibition practices in relation to role of the curator and the artist. It aimed to challenge the task of curating a solo show, working with a singular artistic concept, yet allowing for a space of negotiation,

disagreements and exchange of ideas.



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