As we celebrate creative women this women’s month with female artist from difference disciplines we have chosen 10 of which we think are quite awesome. The first who we would link to celebrate is Mary Sibande who was born 1982 in Barbeton.

The work of South African artist Mary Sibande tells the tale of her alter-ego Sophie, a domestic worker who finds refuge in dreams where she emancipates herself from the ghoulish realism of an ordinary existence, cleaning other people’s homes.

The young visual artist Mary Sibande also used her own body in her work. She molded her alter-ego life size sculpture Sophie after her own body. Sophie is a domestic worker with a lot of dreams and fantasies. Her work relates to the harsh realities for black domestic workers in South Africa today. Sophie represents a lot of women who work as servants their whole lives and are often in inferior positions towards their employer. Here race and class relations play an important role. The fact that so many households have domestic workers is also a reflection of the current socio-economic reality in South Africa.

Exploring the construction of identity within post-apartheid South Africa, Sibande’s work probes the stereotypical contextualisation of the black female body. In Sibande’s practice as an artist, she activates the human form through photography and sculpture. These mediums help her explore the construction of identity in a post-colonial South African context. In addition to this, Sibande critiques stereotypical depictions of women, particularly African women in our society.

Sibande’s practice as an artist, underlines how privileged ideals of beauty and femininity aspired to by black women discipline their body through rituals of imitation and reproduction. She inverts the social power indexed by Victorian costumes by reconfiguring it as a domestic worker’s “uniform” elaborating on the colonial relationship between “slave” and “master” as seen in a post-apartheid context.

The fabric that Sibande uses to dress her characters, be it sculptures or photographs, is instantly recognizable (within a South African framework), as it is the same that is used for domestic workers’ uniforms. By using this archetypal reference Sibande applies it to Victorian dresses, through this she attempts to comment on the history of subjection as it relates to the present in terms of domestic relationships.

Her work has featured in several public and private exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale and Paris Photo in 2011. Mary Sibande is represented by Gallery Momo.