Minnette Vári

° 1968

Born in Pretoria (ZA).

Minnette Vári (°1968) lives and works as a white artist in Johannesburg. That in itself is not terribly significant, were it not for the fact that Vári often explicitly incorporates this racial reality in her photographs and videos. In her earliest work, during the first half of the nineties, she used images of black women, but decapitated them and topped their bodies with her own head. This act made it possible for Vári to place herself in a different ethnic and social guise.

By situating herself among black women, she seeks to convince the viewer that her desire is to be identified with the black community and show off her positive outlook on an interracial community. Nonetheless, this act also contains a reference to South African history: in order to replace a black woman, she must first decapitate her.

The black women and men are extras in documentaries on South Africa, which Minnette Vári records directly from the television screen. These images are then edited into new videos with the artist playing the lead role. The television images used show events in South Africa as of 1994 and provide Vári with a means for rediscovering herself in the subjects of global communications and visual culture. For her, this is key, because in her understanding, the cornerstone of our visual culture is the perpetual interpretation and rewriting of reality.

Since the end of the nineties, Vári's habit has been to appear nude in various digitally created scenarios, no longer using any other bodies in her work. Nevertheless, she still continues to use images taken from media, selecting them based on their symbolic significance to her, such as a coat of arms, representative of both power and oppression. Her existence as a woman is also of tremendous importance in her work. Themes such as identity in relation to external characteristics are therefore inextricably bound up in their meaning within South Africa's socio-political context.

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