International Women’s Day exhibition champions inclusion

Photos: Contributed

Women wear cultural identity in the folds of their traditional dress, they are the guardians of Namibia’s natural heritage and exist intersectionally in ‘All In’, an European Union Delegation to Namibia exhibition to mark International Women’s Day currently on display at the Franco-Namibian Cultural Centre.

Curated by The Project Room and supported by Rand Merchant Bank, ‘All In’ opened on 6 March and is presented as an exploration of the theme ‘Inspire Inclusion’.

From artist Nicole Schaller’s striking embroidered portraits honouring Damara women’s cultural attire, to Ina-Maria Shikongo’s bold textile banners calling for interventions to save the Okavango Delta, the exhibition underscores the wonderful diversity of thought, age and technique within the local visual art landscape with a focus on its female artists.

In a series of offbeat collages by artist and activist Anne Lacheiner-Kuhn, issues of queer identity, the importance of trans women’s lives and of sexual consent come to the fore, while non-binary rights advocate Jo Rogge’s sublime acrylic paintings are scene-stealing towards the back wall.

“Through my art, I seek to foster dialogue, promote empathy and advocate for inclusivity recognising the importance of intersectionality in our struggles for equality and liberation,” says Lacheiner-Kuhn in a brief artist’s statement beside her works. “By centring queer identities in my work, I strive to contribute to a more diverse and inclusive narrative of Namibian society.”

Also featuring a collection of plastic tapestries recalling rest in the Zambezi region by Lynette Musukubili, striking, sandstone sculptures by Dörte Berner, as well as a selection of somewhat mythical portraits by Foibe Amundaba, ‘All In’ is a focused and impressive cross-section of contemporary Namibian visual art.

With a number of the artists working in bold colours and at a large scale, the exhibition leaves one with the impression that these are women and non-binary artists who are determined to take up space and shine light on communities that are often portrayed negatively, as damaging stereotypes or not at all.

“By sharing stories of Damara cultural attire, it highlights and re-introduces forgotten or unknown cultures,” says Schaller. “People must feel valued, included and heard.”

Reflecting on the initiative as a whole, Amundaba is appreciative of the opportunity to showcase her work.

“As a woman and an artist, to be granted this opportunity to showcase my visions and creations shows that we, as a world, are diversifying and there is visible positive progress in including diversified voices,” says Amundaba. “This, to me, is inclusiveness.”

–; Martha Mukaiwa on Twitter and Instagram;

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