Emerging in the mid 1990s, Belinda Blignaut (b.1968) was one of the group of young Johannesburg-based conceptual artists whose work served as a commentary on the social and political uncertainty of South Africa, often in antagonistic or, at the very least, critical terms. Antibody, her first solo show, was held at Everard Read Contemporary in 1993. Subsequently, she exhibited at the 1994 Sao Paulo and 1995 Africus Johannesburg Biennales. After an hiatus of almost fifteen years, Blignaut returned to the art scene in 2009 and participated in a few local projects as well as two important international exhibitions, No Government No Cry (2011) and Newtopia: The State of Human Rights (2012). In 2010 the installation Stealing the Words slowly inhabited the Young Blackman space during the days leading up to the opening. In 2012 she also curated the group show, A Shot To The Arse, at the Michaelis Galleries in Cape Town.
Twenty years after her first, blank projects hosted BLOWN, the much awaited second solo exhibition by Belinda Blignaut. That she began practicing again, for the first time since the beginnings of this country’s democracy, suggests that there is a revived urgency for protest.
Through a varied series of works and actions created and documented over several years, Belinda Blignaut has been processing issues around social constraint and transformation, with the body at the centre of all; an emotional response to a political world.
Adapting available materials and processing immediate surroundings, she hopes to translate the ways we cope. Her work is often body canvas, a quiet visceral investigation into violence through action and documentation.
Surfacing in all she does is a desire to resist the effects of institutionalized culture and the constructs of sophistication we have become – how good we are at concealing messiness, the natural body, intuition and raw expression.
In her own words, “I’ve come to believe we have one story to tell and keep finding different ways of telling it.”