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Untitled (Red) (from the Colour Me series) (1998)

Berni Searle

LightJet on archival matt paper

Manchester Art Gallery

Untitled (Red) (from the Colour Me series) (1998)

© Berni Searle ©Berni Searle, courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg.





Lightjet print


42 x 50 cm

Accession Number:



Presented by the Contemporary Art Society through Valeria Napoleone XX Contemporary Art Society, 2018/19

Ownership history:

Purchased from Stevenson, South Africa by Valeria Napoleone XX Contemporary Art Society, 8 February 2019; presented to Manchester Art Gallery, 2018/19
Two powerful photographs by South African artist Berni Searle were acquired for Manchester Art Gallery through the Valeria Napoleone XX Contemporary Art Society award, which supports the acquisition of significant works by a living female artist for a museum collection.

Searle works with lens-based media to stage narratives connected to history, memory and place. Using her own body, she addresses racism, the commodification of the female body and its power in myth making. Her work connects to universal emotions of vulnerability, loss and beauty.

Untitled (Red) is a play on the racial classification of ‘coloured’ used under apartheid, the government’s term for mixed ethnicities. Searle covered herself in spices in reference to the Dutch East India Company’s trade. This brought white colonisers into contact with local inhabitants and slaves of the Cape of Good Hope, who consequently had children of multiple cultural heritage. Searle states: ‘I chose to cover myself with various colours – red, yellow, white, brown – in an attempt to resist any definition of identity which is static, or can be placed into neat categories. Placing myself or my body in the work exposes other aspects of my identity, for example, gender.’ In this work Searle’s mouth is covered and, unable to speak; she confronts us directly with her eyes.

All rights reserved. Any further use will need to be cleared with the rights holder. Permission granted to reproduce for personal and educational use only. Commercial copying, hiring, lending is prohibited. The collection that owns this artwork may have more information on their own website about permitted uses and image licensing options.

For further information, please consult our section of our copyright policy.

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