Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Berni Searle

Untitled (From the 'Colour Me' series)

Untitled (From the

Berni Searle. Untitled (From the 'Colour Me' series), 1998.

One of a set of 4 untitled photos from the "Colour Me" series. Edition 10 + 1 AP. "Berni Searle’s 'Colour Me' series (1998−2000) focuses on the colonial history of the artist’s native Cape Town, South Africa, established in the seventeenth century as a refreshment station along the Dutch East India Company’s spice trade route to Indonesia. As a result, large populations of Indian indentured servants were sent to the Cape to work for Dutch settlers. They have formed an integral part of the city’s population and culture ever since. In 'Girl', Searle employs the language of ethnography and anthropology to address racism in South African politics, history, and visual culture. The artist portrays herself in a corpse-like manner, dissected into twelve photographs, thereby transforming her body into a fetishized object for display. The photographs are topped by glass jars with various local spices, such as paprika, turmeric, and brown cloves. 'Girl' speaks to the reality of hybridity created by indentured servitude and the cultural and racial mixing of natives, colonizers, and colonized (African, Dutch, and Indian). The 'Colour Me' series also functions as a direct reference to apartheid and the government’s creation of a third racial category for mixed ethnicities, called “coloured,” in which Searle was/is included. The reinscription of her own body back into this charged history functions conceptually to compound and disband the history of colonial power and relationships." -- Amy Brandt, "Global Feminisms"


photography, spice, skin, identity, body, Global Feminisms, colonialism, postcolonialism, apartheid, South Africa, race, racism, spice trade, ethnography

Snow WhiteOn Either SideFree FallApproachNight Fall (video still)About to Forget (video stills)Untitled (From the

Cape Town/New York, Western Cape/NY
South Africa/USA


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