Mzoxolo Mayongo, MTOTO WA KIKE II, 2018. Courtesy of Julie Miller Art Investment Institute.

Demystifying the Phallus of Man

South African artist and activist Mzoxolo Mayongo will be exhibiting his first solo show today aimed at revisioning the masculine identity

Through his provocative and engaging work, Johannesburg-based artist Mzoxolo Mayongo, is forging a new vision for the masculine identity. During a time where the idea of femininity, masculinity and sexual orientation is in flux and these notions are being dissected and scrutinised from varying perspectives, Mayongo’s work is a personal response to his own unforgiving insecurities as a man living in South Africa today.

“I use my body as a tool to explore and interrogate human conditions, exposing the ills and sickness that exist in society. In so doing, I hope my work will offer healing and reform,” he says.

 

Mzoxolo Mayongo, NDUNGUSI KAKATI I, 2018. Courtesy of Julie Miller Art Investment Institute.Mzoxolo Mayongo, NDUNGUSI KAKATI I, 2018. Courtesy of Julie Miller Art Investment Institute.

 

Gender-based violence is a recurring theme in the South African narrative with the country’s femicide rate being four times that of the global average. Entrenched values of patriarchy and systematic gender-inequality remain global issues the world is only recently grappling with. In light of this, Mayongo challenges and explores the ingrained ideas surrounding manhood and masculinity, an exploration that he hopes will become an entry point that could potentially heal humanity.

In his first solo exhibition opening today at the Julie Miller Investment Art Institute at the Mall of Africa, Mayongo hopes to open dialogue confronting the old-fashioned, preconceived ideas surrounding gender by exposing and welcoming its flexibility.

“I have found that masculinity and femininity are just aspects of a whole identity. I believe that one cannot exist without the other,” he says.

 

Mzoxolo Mayongo, MTOTO WA KIKE II, 2018. Courtesy of Julie Miller Art Investment Institute.Mzoxolo Mayongo, MTOTO WA KIKE II, 2018. Courtesy of Julie Miller Art Investment Institute.

The exhibition entitled ‘“Ubukho be Ndoda” Demystifying the Phallus of Man’ is part of a larger movement Mayongo advocates for. As an activist his practise extends into social-justice programs and includes a platform called TalkingMEN. The initiative creates a space that facilitates discussion surrounding what it means to be a “man” in current day South Africa.

“My art has prompted me to take charge and use my artistic voice to become an advocate for social activism and justice.,” he says.

Amy Gibbings is a writer on ART AFRICA‘s editorial team.

‘“Ubukho be Ndoda” Demystifying the Phallus of Man’ is opening tonight 7 June 2018 at the Julie Miller Art Investment Institute located at the Mall of Africa.