Zeitz MOCAA Benefit Auction

Live Virtual Auction, 11 February 2024

Zeitz MOCAA 2024 Gala Benefit Auction

Sold for

ZAR 50 000
Lot 1
  • Mary Evans; Please Do Not Bend 39
  • Mary Evans; Please Do Not Bend 39

Lot Estimate
ZAR 10 000 - 15 000
Selling Price
ZAR 50 000

About this Item

Nigerian 1963-
Please Do Not Bend 39

accompanied by a Tiwani Contemporary digital certificate of authenticity signed, dated 02/02/2024 by the artist and gallery manager, dated 2015-ongoing, inscribed with the title and medium

manilla envelopes, watercolour paper and ink
32 by 23cm excluding frame; 41 by 31 by 3,5cm including frame


Kindly donated by the artist.

Image courtesy of the artist and Tiwani Contemporary.

The director of UCL Slade School of Art and celebrated artist Mary Evans uses brown paper and other disposable materials to consider sites and narratives about place and belonging. Raised in England, Evans uses the socio-political and historical frameworks of diaspora, migration, and global exchange to reflect on narratives of Black resilience. She has received numerous commissions, awards, and residencies, including a Smithsonian Artists Research Fellowship at the National Museum of African Art, Washington D.C. in 2010, the Arts Residency at the Rockefeller Foundation in 2014, and a 2022 installation at the Meta offices in London. Her work was featured in the 2016 edition of the EVA International Biennale, curated by Koyo Kouoh in Limerick, Ireland. Her principal motif is the silhouette, a well-known European visual device, reappropriated to make the black body visible as a site for historical and contemporary narratives of resilience, mobility, geography, and memory.

The first and only time that Nigerian-British Mary Evans has used text in her iconographic practice, this ongoing series of brown envelopes, titled Please Do Not Bend is made with manilla, one of the most resilient natural fibres in the world. Named for the capital city of the Philippines where manilla rope is manufactured for use on large cargo ships, the material is closely tied to one of Evans’ key thematic interests: the history of imperialism and its ongoing impact on the lives of Black people across the globe. The form of the envelope further invokes mobility and
migration, and the literal shipping of Black bodies across the sea, the issue at the centre of Zeitz MOCAA’s 2023 survey of Evans’ practice, titled GILT.

For the exhibition’s accompanying monograph, published by Zeitz MOCAA, Johannesburg based writer and artist Thulile Gamedze penned the essay Another Body Is Possible, offering the following about these charged artworks:

"The instruction, running up the envelope’s outer edge, is accompanied by central silhouetted heads in profile, filled with watercolour-painted patterns, reminiscent of those found on Dutch wax-print cloth. These heads, unlike [Evans’ typical] cut-outs, are produced negatively, shaped and then removed from the surface of the envelopes, with the watercolour layered in from behind the cut. … Implicating systems of bureaucracy (thus nation, citizenship, and race) through the object of the manila envelope, Please Do Not Bend describes both a practical measure of administrative care, and an impossible, yet still pressing, request for the recognition of value in Black life. … Please Do Not Bend is a repeated mantra and a resistant cry: both an internal request, shared in spaces of safety and solidarity, and a clarion call, cried out, perhaps in vain, to an institutional culture premised on Black misrecognition and distortion."

View all Mary Evans lots for sale in this auction

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