From the Mail & Guardian:

Nandipha Mntambo‘s The Beginning of Forever is more difficult to pin down. She has moulded two cowhides using taxidermy to resemble the outlines of women’s bodies.

“I’m trying to uncover how we feel about attraction and repulsion and how we feel about the thin boundary between the animal and the human,” she says. “The boundary between what makes us attracted to something, and what makes us repulsed.”

She speaks of “a fascination with hair or hairlessness” she experienced as a teenager. “This idea that it makes one more attractive if you don’t have body hair.” The work is a play on this and imagining what a hairy female form might look like.

“I’m interested in the blurring of the animal and the human. The fact that every civilisation in the world has some kind of connection to the cow – whether it’s eating it, wearing it, having it as currency.

“And within these different histories there have been these myths of animals merging with human beings, or this interchangeable life of one day being able to be an animal, the next being a human,” she says.

“I think that more than anything, the work that I make is about understanding the sameness that we have, regardless of where you come from, regardless of what age you are.”

There has been some discussion around the fact that she is the only black woman in the South African Pavilion. “One would hope that my artwork helps people to think beyond that,” she says, adding that “it is a bit of a problem if you’re the only [black] female in a show”.

The Beginning of Forever