“This work is about honouring and celebrating the beauty of Indian women, specifically their hair, something many Western people fetishise. I can't tell you how often I would find a random stranger with their hands in my hair, as if their admiration of it justified the invasion of my personal space. People make comments about how I should sell my hair, make a weave out of it, or tell me their hair (meaning their wig or implants) are the same as my hair. Another strange thing is how many Western people feel they have authority over what I do with my hair; often scolding me if I mention wanting to cut it. One woman cried after I cut my hair and donated it to cancer because she wanted it to make extensions. It's all very uncomfortable. Regardless, I am proud of my thick, bushy hair - it's my heritage and a huge signifier of my genes and roots. I wanted to articulate this celebration despite the aforementioned uncomfortability around it created by exoticism. So in the work, we see Indian women bathing, grooming and tending to their hair and thus themselves, whilst in the peripheries these almost monstrous figures try to grab at their beauty...I've also subtly incorporated the idea of whitewashing, where the 'monsters' arms extend; there's an effect on the space, but it does not affect these proud women.”
henna and found bindis on Fabriano Rosapina | 70 x 100cm | unique
Taking as thematic keystone the Desi Durban culture in which she was raised, Tyra Naidoo’s practice offers a personal reflection on South African Indian heritage and womanhood. “Using combinations of fragile and aggressive materials and processes, I articulate a dialogue of the subtle violences experienced as a marginalised body,” she writes. “I attempt to create progressive information and spaces to achieve safety, security, and belonging for myself and my community.” Born in KwaZulu-Natal, Tyra now lives and works in Cape Town. She is a graduate of the Michaelis School of Fine Art.