Unongayindoda (One Who Almost Looks Like a Woman), 2005-2006, Installation: dress, handbag and boots , organza, rubber and ribbon,
260 x 600 x 330 cm, courtesy of Alexander Rhomberg Collection, Austria and Michael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town
South African artist Nicholas Hlobo designs unwearable dresses out of inner tires gathered at Johannesburg tire shops. Working from a perspective that combines queer themes and postcolonial cultural criticism, he creates installations and sculptures that are directly related to his South African roots, and which raise questions concerning ritual ceremonies and social norms. In the work Unongayindoda, which means "one who almost looks like a woman," the bodiless figure appears to be hovering between earth and sky. The gender ambiguity that characterizes most of Hlobo's works is noticeable here as well: the black rubber and crude stitches bespeak a "masculine" quality (cars, industrialization, condoms and sex toys), while the corset's lace trim, the pink ribbon, the soft folds and the diaphanous fabric constitute a "celebration of femininity," in the artist's own words.
Born in Cape Town, 1975; lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa