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.