Wednesday, April 25, 2012

South African protest art! In this day and age?

An argument for authenticity
By Farieda Nazier

The following entry is based on my own views of a public talk I recently attended in Joburg. The main topic of this talk was socio political art and whether it was still feasible for South African artist to be using the socio political as reference or content for their work. I argue that South African artists should remain true to their inspiration i.e. Africa and their Africaness.

“Things got blurry politically after ninety four” was one of the opening comments at the public seminar. In other words ‘things’ or politics are no longer simple in the times of a democratic constitution, here in South Africa.  Does this mean that Apartheid, in retrospect, is seen as a very clear, black and white, simple politics? Could this be owing to its systematic nature which provided for ease of critique, commentary and protest, from the media and art world alike? 

One view is that many of us are over saturated with the idea of Apartheid and its consequences (by consequences I mean present day South Africa). Anything referencing the A-word seems to be considered smut. I often hear the call to “Stop blaming Apartheid” and the famous "Why are we living in the past?"

The fact is that we are all products of our past. We can all agree that the past is multifaceted and layered with input from our parents, siblings, the environment, society, media, politics, you name it. WE are shaped by all these, in various proportions. As South Africans, one such element which shaped us here and now in the present is our shared socio-political history. In this instance that specific history is called Apartheid. Does it make sense to try and forget it, if this is what constitutes US?

As artists we are inspired by our perceptions of our surroundings and experiences thereof & with. We filter these through our senses and deposit it in our minds, assimilate and process the data; and subsequently deliver visual and sound ‘reports’ which manifest as artworks. The reality is that the surroundings that we confront on a day to day basis are heavily laced with physical and intangible remnants of Apartheid. Poverty is one such remnant. If we are surrounded, affected or disturbed by it, why not depict it?  That said, does it make sense to search abroad, “in Europe and elsewhere” to make our art more valuable and saleable? (Let’s not start on the value of art works!) Would we not be dishonest with ourselves if we do so?

I would like to open up dialogue by arguing 1) for South African artist to remain true and authentic to their Africa and Africaness; and  2) against the appropriation of European and ‘other’ ideas.
Please feel free to comment or critique.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

'looming 2'

The link below is for the animated videowork- 'looming 2'. The work was on exhibit with the sculpture 'looming' (posted on 9 January 2012- see below) in the public domain at the Artspace gallery in December 2011.

Aluminium and Wax by Farieda Nazier
Animation and Sound by Mocke J V Veuren
2.03 minutes
Sounds were recorded in Johannesburg CBD, near the Carlton Centre.
The video work, ‘Looming 2’, accompanies the sculptural piece ‘Looming’ and is fundamentally linked in its conceptual premise. It is the product of a creative collaboration between sculptor Farieda Nazier and film maker Mocke J Van Veuren. The resultant video work provides the scope for broader, time-based reflection regarding the subject matter. The video work illustrates the notion of change, temporality and moments in the growth of the city. It exploits the inherent mechanisms of stop-motion animation, by stitching together the incremental moments of the sculpture’s production process in a sequential manner in order to construct a sense of duration and perpetual transformation, emphasizing the awkwardly shifting nature of the city.
Through the animation process, the usually rigid and passive metal moves in unexpected ways, expressing pliability and mobility without signs of external force. The transformation of the metal seems to be driven by a complex, conflictual agency, mirroring the internal struggles and desires that continually shape and reshape the city.
Feel free to comment!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Animation for 'in and around'

Below is our (Farieda and Mocke J V Veuren's) first stop motion animated video collaboration. This was the first experimental work related to the 2012 sculpture exhibition. The work is titled: 'in and around'. Duration: all of 5 seconds!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Exhibition 2012... 'in the beginning'

The short essay below titled 'of things unseen' marks the first concrete writings (in the beginning of 2011) of the concept for my current work. It evolved from my interest in the intricate relationship between psyche and soma, mind and body; and the effects or consequences of external influences. On the other hand, the manner and processes by which the artworks physically manifest, has been a 10 year long exploration and experiment of material and form.

From 'of things unseen'(2011) by Farieda Nazier

Writings on the ontological problem of mind-body dualism can be traced back as far as Plato, Aristotle and Aquinas. A major contribution in the study of ‘forms’ can be attributed to Descartes, a philosopher, physiologist, and mathematician; who in the 1600’s discovered the reflex theory. This discovery in combination with the aforementioned precursors, laid the foundations of Cartesian Dualism; which speaks of the mind as an independent entity to the physical body. Descartes argued that the brain was merely the organ of the mind and that these distinctive ‘materials’ interacted. However, even though these two entities were considered separate they related through causality - body affecting mind and the mind affecting body. Subsequently, many other philosophical psychological and oppositional theories developed. Psychoanalysis, for instance, predominantly referenced bodily experiences in a number of its concepts. In the contemporary novel ‘Something to tell you’, Hanif Kureishi quotes Proust within the context of a psychoanalysts’ reflection on his sessions: “Every hour of the past is inscribed on the human body, indeed makes up the body (Kureishi, 2008:147).

My current work evolved from my two previous exhibitions which explore a planar shape and its transformation into form (a body). The preliminary examples presented mainly ‘virgin’ or ‘unscathed’ forms and the endless physical possibilities of unaltered basic geometric shapes. Later on in the work, the shapes were symmetrically incised on major intersections and angles. By assigning symbolism to these geometric shapes, the process of manufacture evoked and gave rise to new metaphors and narratives. This methodology and approach provided the groundwork for my present concept.

Within the South African context as with many other analogous contexts, personal histories are undeniably engrained with discrimination and its consequent wounding in one form or another. The premise for the exhibition is rooted in the broader investigation of South Africa’s oppressive socio-political history and its traumatic effects on the lives of the individuals exposed to it. The project aims to contribute to this discourse by attempting catharsis: visually unravelling, unpacking and tackling the process of wounding and its aftermath.

“While there was therapeutic value in the cathartic release of emotions ...this notion of ‘catharsis’, crudely involves an oral purging of a sick body riddled with traumatic ‘secrets’, which can enable victims to ‘master the past’”.
(Field, 2007: 5)

Sculpture Exhibition...Coming soon!!!

I am currently working on a metal sculpture exhibition opening in August 2012, hosted by the Apartheid Museum.

Watch this space for updates on my progress and previews/snippets of the works.