Sacrificial bodies as corporeal articulations of violence in the work of South African female artists

  • Leana van der Merwe Part-time lecturer, Department of Visual Arts, University of Pretoria.
Keywords: South African artists, female artists, feminist art, sacrifice, Bataille, Girard violence, murder


This article investigates the multiple occurrence of the sacrificial body as a visual device employed by female South African artists against a backdrop of genderbased violence and patriarchal discourse. The theories of René Girard (1972), George Bataille (1962) and Julia Kristeva (1982) are used to scrutinise this phenomenon, specifically with regard to the relationship of sacrifice with suicide, murder and martyrdom. It is shown how the sacrificial device is used by female artists as a feminist intervention through the dismantling of Cartesian dualisms and how visual art actively works as social action in this regard.