Cape Town

16 March - 4 May 2024
Farhana Jacobs
Farhana Jacobs

Homecoming, 2024, installation view

For the fifth iteration of STAGE, Stevenson is pleased to present Homecoming by Farhana Jacobs.

Jacobs explores archetypes of womanhood, parallel to and embedded in natural landscapes, reimagining a symbiotic relationship between the body and land, and producing terrains that hold new ways of remembering and being.

Working with three archetypes of womanhood: the maiden, the rebel and the crone, Jacobs unearths the women in her family who have been bound by these paradigms, which hold their own associations of innocence, defiance and empathy. The artist indicates that these narratives are fluid and can be accessed and called upon at different points, reflecting her understanding of womanhood as constantly in flux. Inspired by the writing of Ruth Ozeki who asks, ‘what does your face look like before your parents were born?’, she embarks on a journey of memory and questioning. Across Homecoming, Jacobs traces her own positionality among and through these women she considers ancestors and the phases they embody.

Alongside the body, Jacobs fabricates nature as an entity that exists with these symbolic frameworks. Rolling mountains become the curve or shadow of a body, and figures situated in landscapes allow for the interweaving of womanhood with nature. In Wiet jy wie is jy (‘do you know who you are?’ in Afrikaans), the figure poses as the wise overseer; milk from her breast pours into the ground beneath, creating a river surrounding her.

As the figures flow in and out of the phases of womanhood - from the naivety of the maiden, to the noncompliance of the rebel, or the sage oversight of the crone, and even as they become ancestors - nature is consistently part of these transitions.

In the work titled Salawaat (a prayer), three figures enclosed in an oval frame form a council of women that look onto the viewer at a moment of transition – when the bride pictured must leave her family to join another and begin a new life. The artist writes:

Salawaat in this context is the recitation of a prayer for a bride and groom as they leave their wedding reception and make their way to their new lives. It’s usually quite a poignant moment in the wedding process where the bride says goodbye to her parents and goes home with a new family. Many tears are shed, and her family throw a dark brown fur coat or shawl over her shoulders – for protection – and all the while this prayer is recited.

Jacobs positions the role of ‘bride’, which the women in her family were required to play, within the archetype of the maiden who is defined by this optimistic point in her life. However, the artist also sees this moment as one charged with internal processes of change and re-examination. Jacobs writes, ‘She’s the maiden and whether she knows it or not, the launching pad of marriage is really her invitation to letting all hell break loose – in terms of the catalyst for her to get to know herself and spiral deeper downward into herself to find out who truly lives there. She’s on the tipping point of meeting all the other archetypes – or if she already has, the marriage contract will inspire the idea that all three are contained in her.’

Farhana Jacobs was born in Durban in 1986 and lives in Johannesburg. She studied Social Anthropology at the University in Cape Town. She previously had a solo exhibition at Gallery 2, Johannesburg (2023), and featured in group exhibitions at Bubblegum Gallery, Johannesburg (2022) and The Point of Order, Johannesburg (2019).

Earlier iterations of STAGE, our platform for younger, unrepresented artists, featured Thato Toeba, Lebogang Mogul Mabusela, Mack Magagane and Khanyisile Mawhayi.

Jacobs shows concurrently with Wim Botha. The exhibition opens Saturday 16 March, 10am to 1pm.