Indian artist Darshan Singh Grewal has created a landmark as a reminder of the value of cultural heritage and of the traditional crafts which are slowly being overshadowed by technological advances.
Landmarks are an integral part of Indian stories, imagination and memories. They appear in our conversation and description of folklore. Landmarks belong to all. They belong to the whole community around them.
Many families who live in cities have roots in the villages where their ancestors lived, and going back to the village is special to all those who relish the fragrance of mud, starry nights, farms, fresh air, and simple rustic lives. People delight in sharing anecdotes and stories of their villages, their memorable landmarks, shops, streets or marketplaces where their forefathers use to meet, play and spend evenings together.
Even though I grew up in a city, I love to go back to the country, spend time in farms, walk in gullies (village streets), watch activities and assimilate experiences through my art.
This project, realized in collaboration with my friends Arun Bawa and Jagmeet Singh Bhatti in the course of four days, is an effort to explore an earthen craft process by creating a life-size sculpted landmark using vernacular elements and antique objects as a symbol of tangible heritage and associated intangible traditional values.
The sculpted structure and its aesthetic form has evolved in my imaginative process, but its basic form was inspired by typical conical enclosures, called ‘Guhara’ and ‘Kupp’, crafted by villagers in the Punjab countryside. ‘Guharas’ were used to store cow dung cake and ‘Kupps’ were made of dry wheat grass and used to store waste of wheat crop that would later feed cattle and buffaloes.
The old broken craft objects used in the sculpture are symbols of tangible craft heritage: the ‘Charkha’, for example, is a traditional spinning wheel, ‘Madhani’ is a traditional churn, and other rural elements, like earthen pots, bamboo ladder, and cow dung cakes over the surface represent vernacular heritage. Due to the advancement in technology and the employment of machines, the handcrafted ‘Charkha’ and ‘Madhani’ are no more in use; the whole lifestyle is slowly changing; now these ethnic objects have no functional value. I have tried to give them another life by using them as an integral part of an art installation. The purpose is to visually revive and conserve the value of traditional craft and making them visible to young generations of villagers. This kind of sculpture in the fields may help young kids to connect with the wisdom of their cultural tradition, and inspire them to explore the values and folklore associated to it.
I am planning to create more of these vernacular installations, both in the fields and in public activity spaces in villages, involving and collaborating with local communities and kids.
Darshan Singh Grewal graduated in Architecture form DCR University, Murthal, Haryana, India. He explores various dimensions of life culture through experimental art practices that encompasse poetry, visual art, craft, spatial installation, performance art and film.
An extraordinary exhibition in Karachi by Pakistani artist Imrana Tanveer reflects on visions of idealised, unreal women who are promised to Muslim men for their good deeds, but whose images and stereotypes we find in all cultures. Tanveer purposefully uses Baroque and Rococo styles of Western paintings, easily straddling cultures to make her point. “Heaven or Earth" she says, "the objectification of the woman is always there.”
'Heaven Was the Place in Heart'
All the 72 works in the exhibition are titled ‘I See a Premonition’, which represents the very core idea of doing good in the name of having Hoors (women of Heaven, fair virgins) in the afterlife.
The number 72 represents the misconception which is generally very well fed in the minds of Muslim men, who just get flattened with the imaginary and proclaimed beauty of the alluring ‘women of Heaven’. “Ironically, Islamic scholars do not formally agree upon this rather publicized incentive. The Hoor is often referred to as a ‘virgin’. It is suggested that the Hoors, number of which are yet to be decided, are awarded to martyrs as a reward for laying down their lives for an Islamic struggle. This is regardless of how unethical their actions may have been. This commodification of women-like beings is a precursor for the commodification of all women.” (from the exhibition’s review by Tahmina Ghaffar)
The works are also further sub categorized by variation in sizes to represents the ranking and attributes of the Hoor (there being, however, no authentic study or references which suggest the alleged 72 Hoors).
All the images are appropriation of famous Western paintings of beautiful women from the Baroque and mostly the Rococo periods, and they include images of maids, queens, princesses and muses alike. The reason to choose the Western paintings is to underline how we fantasize the beauty of white women, with flawless, hairless skin, and tender breasts (the prominent features of the paintings from that era, as well as the attributes of the Hoor according to various scholars).
I deliberately removed the bodily features of the women and left them white, referring to white skin as bright moon. I shredded the work and reassembled it, to question the narration of the beauty with distortion. “The whiteness so desired instead defaces the subject rendering her empty and anonymous... By removing their features, Tanveer plays with the notion of whiteness, and transparency.… [She}] invites us to challenge our romanticized ideals of perfection. This consideration is as applicable today as it was 300 years ago and transcends religion and culture…” (from the exhibition’s review by Tahmina Ghaffar)
The four larger works (102 x 75 cm) represent of the four wives traditionally allowed to men. According to the tradition, the wife will always have an upper hand on the Hoor in Jannah/Heaven.
The rest of the works represents the categorization of the Hoor/women allocated to the ‘faithful and righteous’ men who spend their lives well and do good on earth. Ironically that ‘doing good’ can take the form of a suicide bombing, or of mistreating one’s wives and one’s own women, all in the name of the promised Hoor in Heaven.
The floor of the entire gallery is covered with layers of thermocole small balls, which represent the beauty which has foregone in the brutal past, and that can only be remembered through a glimpse of visual delight. Heaven, which was shattered into pieces, can only be rescued by aligning memories of the heart which exists in the perplexity of our memory reel, hence the title of the exhibition ‘Heaven was the Place in Heart’.
Indian Artist Shikha Patel's project series is meant to acknowledge the very hard-working rickshaw-walas (drivers who pull two-wheeled carts to transport people), whom are often overlooked, and yet are an integral of daily life in Varanasi.
Since I live in one of the oldest and culturally rich cities in India, Varanasi, I am surrounded by many sources of inspiration. They grab my attention and move me to paint. It may be something from my surroundings, or it may come from my inner consciousness. Here I am simply presenting some of the works that were inspired by a very common but overlooked piece of our surroundings: the rickshaw.
The rickshaws of the city , especially here in Varanasi, grabbed my attention while I was moving through its streets. And not just the rickshaws, but the rickshaw-walas, existing in a beautiful combination, roaming through the lanes of the city. The amazing coordination between the rickshaws and their drivers inspired me both directly and indirectly.
I am trying to provide a spiritual glow to a very ordinary object, that we never pay attention to in our daily life. For us they are just means of transportation.
But here, through my paintings, I tried to look at those who make a living and survive on this common mean of transportation, and I tried to convey something about their lives.
When we need it we call it. And already the way of calling it shows how superficially we look at it. We call a rickshaw... even though we know we are actually calling a rickshaw-wala, not just a rickshaw. This is what makes a rickshaw inseparable from its driver. The very simple and real bond between the two touches me each time I see them.
The quality of attachment between a living subject and a non-living object drove me to paint the difficult and simple lives that we commonly ignore. My goal was to direct the attention of the viewer towards one of the living subjects in our society. So I chose a real subject from my surrounding, and interpreted it in my paintings, where I could offer it an emotional platform, with the love and respect that it generally never receives from the society.
I tried to glorify the presence of the rickshaw and of the rickshaw-wala. I painted in details some of the small elements, including the amazingly painted typical motifs that we not don’t even look at when we daily use the rickshaw. They are traditional and highly decorative, and I tried to paint them in the same way by keeping their original beauty and making them more visible to the viewer.
I enjoyed playing with acrylic and canvas on the elements of these motifs in the background of my paintings, where I feel free to connect my emotions with my subject matters, and trying to capture the mood as well as some resting moments of the rickshaw drivers. After such a laborious work, exhausted, they take rest on the seat of their rickshaw, which becomes their resting couch.
To see more images to the Rickshaw-wala series click HERE.
We are happy to present Indian artist Throngkiuba Yim's new series of works. While tackling environmental pressing issues, they create uncanny visual representations of the threat that nuclear energy and indiscriminate growth pose to our ecosystems.
Nuclear energy is fast becoming a symbol of progress and modernity . I attempt to explore progress as a primitive concept directly interlinked with competition; and competition necessarily constitutes a position of hierarchy.
For developed countries nuclear energy enables a false sense of progress through its promise of cheap but unstable energy and through its military capability of catapulting a country to international political superiority – these same countries maintain the hegemony of power and suppress other nations from similar ambitions. Turning a blind eye, they nevertheless export uranium (yellow-cake) from developing countries creating a dependency and propagating a new form of economical colonization.
Politics is straight-forward, as is my piece ‘Unobtrusive Ecology’, and yet the loser in this game of trade and tyranny is our environment, represented by the blue skyline and green nature; as unobtrusive as our attitude to ecology continues to be.
Since the industrial revolutions, our economies have grown at the expense of the natural world. GDP measures economic transactions, indiscriminately. It cannot tell the difference between useful transactions and damaging ones. But as pressure mounts on the earth’s finite resources, we can no longer pretend that business–as–usual is a realistic option. The longer we delay, the more our societies will be at the mercy of events, and the harsher the eventful adjustments.
Several weeks of collaborative work among three young artists in Johannesburg resulted in a show that documented the process and their experiences.
'Beasts of No Nation'
Three young South African artists who were awarded a studio grant from The African Arts Trust were hosted for several months at the “Assemblage Studios” in Johannesburg this past year. In the final weeks of their residency, Pebofatso Mokoena, Fleur de Bondt and Grace Mmabatho Mokalapa worked together to create a show that was the result of exchanges, conversations, group drawings, and active collaborations, exploring the artists' experimental work.
‘Beasts of No Nation’ was the name of the final exhibition, with obvious references to renowned precedents: the music album by Fela Kuti, the novel by Uzodinma Iweala, about a young boy who becomes a child soldier, and very recently, the film by Cary Joji Fukunaga.
“Collectively, the artists aimed to break out of their preciousness and comfort zones. When you enter the gallery you are confronted by a Friedrich Nietzsche quote proudly inscribed on the wall: “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss will also gaze into you.”
The residency at 'Assemblage Studios’ was a great experience for all three artists. “Apart from the obvious advantages, like being part of a supporting network, showcasing your work to others, having access to resources and seeing the effect it has on one’s productivity, the studio has also become a sanctuary for them. It’s a place for work and play. There they can be vulnerable, curious and playful. Pebofatso experienced the studio as a “rehabilitation island” in the madness of Johannesburg
Preparing for the exhibition at Hazard Gallery was scary, intimidating, rewarding and empowering, all in one. Being part of a collaboration took them out of their comfort zone and according to Fleur, the result is that this body of work looks very different to their other works. All three artists express deep gratitude, respect and appreciation for the other two. “We've had a lot of fun,” says Fleur of the time working together. Grace adds, “I am so lucky to be working with two extremely talented artists who have a lot of insight and energy that has made this show an amazing experience.”
Working with Hazard and the exhibition team was awesome, according to Pebofatso. “It led to a range of possibilities opening up right before my eyes. It was beautiful.”
Now they're already looking ahead. Their passion to express themselves through art is a big motivation. That, and according to Fleur, the “self-loathing feeling of being lazy”! For the time being, they will stay on at Assemblage. With new projects already lined up and an endless amount of creative ideas to explore, they are gazing into the abyss and where others might see beasts, they see beauty staring back at them."
The long excerpt and all the quotes are from the exhibition review in the Assemblage newsletter.)
Emergent Art Space asked Pebofatso to comment on his experience:
“Looking back at Beasts of No Nation, the exhibition became more of a possibility to explore what I’ve always wanted to explore - drawing with mark-making, and building a really honest visual language for myself. The show continued as an exploration into how I can also manifest a new kind of energy, an energy which counteracted a surge of super-political arguments that I had been exposed to over the news, and on the radio. In a sense, the work produced from the exhibition became another form of politics - a politics of peace, amongst the madness of Johannesburg.”
Kolkata artist Arpan Ghosh has created a series of works inspired by the surreal world and social critique of Swedish film director Roy Anderson.
‘Gods and Crime Scenes’
‘Gods and Crime Scenes’ is a series of paintings inspired by Roy Anderson’s movie ‘A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence’.
Roy Arne Lennart Anderson, a celebrated Swedish film director, is best known for ‘A Swedish Love Story’ (1970) and his ‘Living Trilogy’, which includes ‘Songs from the Second Floor’ (2000), ‘You, the Living’ (2007), and ‘A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence’ (2014). In his films, Roy plays with surreal visual situations. They are bleak social criticisms characterized by absurdist deadpan acting and surrealism.
The movie ‘A Pigeon sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence’ consists of a series of mostly self-contained tableaux, sometimes connected by recurring themes or characters. The story loosely follows two traveling salesmen, Jonathan and Sam. While living in a desolate flophouse, they move through numerous unsuccessful attempts to win customers for their joke articles. There is no main story-line in the traditional sense. All the scenes, however, are connected.
In the past few years, I have been working with absurdity and surrealism. They are somehow connected to the crisis of my journey. All of my works tend to be related to my personal life. Sometimes we do things or take risks without knowing the consequences, and we are completely unaware of what might be about to happen. While our actions seek consistency between our expectations and reality, our psyche moves beyond these realities, to an imaginary world where absurdities can exist, and impossible events can take place.
For ‘Gods and Crime Scenes’ I took snapshots of several scenes in Roy’s film, made print-outs of the snapshots, then collaged and painted on them. Each of the uncanny scene represents an absurd and scary situation, of which the people involved are unaware. Yet sometimes we unconsciously cherish our fears. It is a mysterious trait of the human psyche. I try to create a contrast by simultaneously presenting two opposite types of objects or events, calling into question their actual existence. The long, deep cracks in the walls and floors, the strange, scary creatures and the blots of blood, they all create uncanny situations which are complex and psychologically intriguing.
I have added images of Indian Gods and Goddesses from the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma. Hindu mythology is full of stories of magical events, that depict the special powers of Gods and Goddesses. I have placed their images in my snapshots to create drama and to make the situation more surreal.
In this image, for example, there is a baby sitting near a window; a giant monster is walking outside that window, but the other characters are completely unaware of its presence. I collaged in the work an image of the god Krishna. But god Krishna is not a savior here... he is just a silent observer, like a common person in that scenario. So I purposely created the visual contrasts to convey my thoughts.
In some of the works I adorn the Gods with a halo around their heads. Sometimes I do the same for human beings as well, to confuse their enigmatic presence. The characters in the paintings are not at all aware of themselves and their weirdness, nor of the absurdity of their surroundings. Rather, a significant ignorance is present regarding the danger of the situations. It is the ignorance that comes from the neglect or denial of any information that conflict with our existing beliefs or our usual comfort.
Your choice of Raja Ravi Varma is so interesting because he was a very traditional and technical color painter and you have contrasted figures from his work with treacherous, fantastical backgrounds. In confusing the identities of Gods and human figures, I can see your derivation as the artist. I read it as all of the disorientation of ideas exploding out of one's head before complete thoughts and actions have formed. There exists the confusion of conscious and subconscious thought. Are you trying to elicit a specific response from the viewer?
Indian artist Darshan Singh Grewal creates a photographic series following the path of a clown, a symbolic representation of one’s inner spirit exploring itself in adverse environments.
There is an explorer inside every one of us, an explorer who emerges at different times of life.
'SAUDADE' ('Clown Project') symbolically and poetically represents the long struggle to self discovery and self knowledge. It follows the travels and trials of our inner clown, who is beckoning his latent essence in adverse external settings, depicting emotions each of us feels at some phase of our lives. Evoking a feeling of longing, we go through a journey to find our inner clown, who curiously searches beyond limits and boundaries, and believes that “one finds oneself better in a difficult surrounding".
Self-development is a long experiential process; struggling with the heart’s unfathomable pangs, surpassing the illusory suspicions of the mind, we seek the other side of life, we connect to the whole and transform into a new and tremendous state of being. We meet people having diverse perspectives, cultures and beliefs. We accept, reject and reflect on what we come across. We measure ourselves constantly and reevaluate our perspective. In search of our latent essence, many times we form, deform and transform. Through this cyclic process, the evolution continues. Lingering throughout is a deep melancholic longing of something absent, which sporadically triggers our desire to meet our forgotten soul.
Click image below to see the photographic series Saudade:
'Scribble It Down' presents 'Sonorous', featuring artists from the UK, Germany, France, Malta, Macedonia, the US, Indonesia, and Israel, curated by Hagai Izenberg. Having dealt only with visual art till now, the 'Scribble It Down' project streams its method and spirit into the world of music and sound for the first time ever. This attempt called for a new scheme of workflow and needed a new approach from the ground up. Musicians and sound artists were invited to work collectively in digital format while embedding their individual artistic style into singular pieces. Through a sequential process, two groups of 4 artists worked together to create the musical pieces. Each artist contributes 30-60 seconds to a digital file, then transfers the work to the next artist, until each participant of the group has contributed to each piece. On every iteration the artists were given complete artistic freedom to manipulate any of the files received from the previous participant, as well as to add their own recordings and sounds. Sonorous establishes new forms of workflow between artists, and a unique creative process for working on a sound piece. Not knowing what will happen with your recordings as the next person gets them and works with them is both refreshing and intimidating. - Hagai Izenberg
Jean Cedrick | Aron Pit | Hagai Izenberg | Richard Fair
Imrana Tanveer's recent works in a three-woman show on view last February and March at the Gandhara-Art Space in Karachi, Pakistan.
'Is She a Spinner of Yarns?'
Using thread as a form of drawing, hence the theme of the exhibition, which also plays with the traditionally female role of spinning yarn, as well as using it as a metaphor for story telling, each of the three artists in the exhibition creates a unique narrative. Cyra Ali uses it to question social and gender biases. Samina Islam is using thread in her painting to give form to a feminine voice, and Imrana Tanveer, featured here, talks of a more "glocal" (global and local) landscape, a world transmuting in the form of weaves.
"My work is a kind of commentary on what is happening around me on both local and global levels" says Imrana.
"The above work titled "Blue of the War Sky" is a triptych piece which was initially inspired from a visit my brother took to PAF (Pakistan Air Force) Museum in Karachi. It was a quite shocking and disturbing experience for me to see the images of modular monuments of the fighter planes displayed against a blue sky background. War, any where and of any kind, is not something to celebrate nor to feel proud about. The work 'Blue of the War Sky' fantasizes and fascinates with the image of the blue sky I used to have during my childhood. The sky used to be so vast, pure, and so brightly blue, but now it has been corrupted and overshadowed by pollution (climate changes), smog, high rise buildings, planes and fear of falling drones and bombs from above.
The Second work "Naam.e.Amaal", (List of Deeds) is a diptych in the form of carpets. According to Islamic tradition, Naam.e.Amaal will be presented in front of Allah (God) on Judgement day. The works apparently look like carpets, but on closer look you can see that they are composed of digital cuttings of newspapers with ads to get job abroad, usually to Arab countries, and preferably to the most dynamic and economic hub of the world i.e. UAE (United Arab emirates). I was interrogating the idea of presenting oneself as the cheap labor and cheap wages which usually these countries seek from South Asia. One's CV/skill becomes the 'List of Deeds', the 'Naam.e.Amaal', presented just to get through, to look for a better future. It also expresses the idea of 'the grass is always greener on other side of fence'.
The series of diptychs "Third Space" was inspired from the seminars I attended during my Master program in Lahore a few years ago.
The drawings on the left side of the diptychs are from 2011, while the works on the right side (woven), created recently, are meant as comments to those drawings.
The result is meant as a kind of dialogue, a comparison between past and current times, and a commentary on how past incidents have influenced our contemporary times."
A short film by South African artist Lawrence Jadezweni, who brings viewers into the conversations among several young artists who are finding their artistic voice in the city of Johannesburg.
Contemporary art has taken new shapes and forms in modern day society, and with the growing phenomenon of digital media design, several channels have opened up for art-making.
‘Boundless Society’ investigates the relationship between “conventional vs. unconventional” routes taken in the making of contemporary art. It explores the dynamics of the art world in Johannesburg, South Africa. The core message of the documentary relies on the different points of view of opinionated artists about their interpretations of the direction that contemporary art is taking in this city, along with how they perceive their own work. Their artworks will be portrayed in abstract ways using special effects to convey the idea of artistic transformation.
Set in areas such as Braamfontein, Sandton, Pretoria and Midrand, it shows the lives of aspiring artists who are surrounded by various influences and difficulties that affect their work. We get to see their growth in dealing with multiple mediums and art forms that directly influence the construct of the film.
Using myself (Thuli Jadezweni) as a participating subject, along with five other artists, we explore different experiences/conversations and influences on art-making in the modern digital age, while also providing ‘expert’ opinions from interviews that debate the views expressed in the film.
The diverse nature of the relationship of each artist with his work and surroundings gives an informative quality to the direction of the film. The multiple locations help the viewer to contextualize some of the characters’ lives and their cultural stances in the world. The artworks speak for themselves via the process that the various artists go through to liven the dynamic of the film.
Born in Mthatha, Eastern Cape(1993) where he lived for two years until he and his family moved to Pretoria, Thuli wasn’t always a fan of art. After spending 17years in Pretoria where he was bound initially to study Information Technology, due to his passion for drawing he took an unexpected risk and decided to study Multimedia Design at the University of Johannesburg.
Now that he has graduated, starting his own design/production companyBlaqNWhyte Pictures, he and his friends from school have embarked on a journey ofproducing independent videos that question the dynamics of modern culture as well as socio-political issues experienced by the youth.
His artistic style of using multiple layered effects and vibrant transitions offers a fresh way of experiencing the stories portrayed in each film. Engaging with people in the streets of Johannesburg has been one of the biggest influences in the raw and somewhat unconventional ways in which the videos are represented. His debut work, BoundLess Society(2015), serves as testament to this style of film-making.
He has also just released a new film called Young Ni**a Preach which explores the struggles experienced by students within the #FeesMustFall debacle, without harbouring into any political statements.
Ofentse 'G' Seshabela (University of Johannesburg student) - Age: 20 - Fine Artist (Practices Film/Photography)
My name is Ofentse G Seshabela. Born in pretoria on the 13th jan 1995. However, i stayed in pretoria for a short while. Most of my life has been spent around Johannesburg as a whole. Reason being i had been moved to live with my uncle in Krugersdorp in the year 2004. Since then, joburg has been my true home. Right now, im studyiny visual art at the university of jhb. I noticed my interests in the arts at a very young age. When i was about 5-7 years old, id draw cars all the time at the back of my script books. And everyone loves these drawings. So i guess the passion for art started showing at that time. I am very insipred by the concept of Africanization. I am inspired by the people of Africa as a whole. Most of my work tends to focus more on the informal sector of the country, such as the townships n rural areas. This is because i am much interested in the forever growing culture of black people. I have very much interests in the emerging cultures of the hood in particular. How the people talk, how they walk, how they dress, their food... And so on. With all these influences in my life, i always try to make all these rich themes the very focus of my work.
Levoy Veli 'LV' Dlamini (University of Johannesburg student) - Age: 21 - Fine Artist (Performance Art)
Born in Soweto 1994. Levoy grew up around a diverse family that practices different forms of art (Music, Drawing, Performance, Photography). He has beendescribed by Artizens of Joburg blog site, in an article written by Kea Mooka,as one of the coolest African Contemporary Artists in Johannesburg.
LV appreciates the finer, more traditional aspects of life. Artistically known as Paragon Fine Art, Levoy realizes that the love for art and how it exists in everything around us is in itself the influence that drives us to become better artists.
Thabiso 'Tbs' Phosa (University of Johannesburg student) - Age: 21 - Fine Artist (Practices Photography/Film)
I have a love for art as a whole, from music, photography to drawing and painting. I started doing art as a subject at school from grade 3- 12. i was also in a marimba band at school for about the same period, I play the djembe drum as well as a drum kit, all these influences are where my love for art originated from. i am also a person that is very social and interactive and this is what feeds my creativity and gives me the hunger to even explore more fields of art as i meet more and more people doing unique things. This has lead me to not stick to one field of of art and this choice gives me an opportunity to explore my mind and keep it stimulated through learning more. for this reason, art is my life and my life is an artwork itself.
Michael Macgarry - Fine Artist/Film Maker - Standard Bank Young Artist 2010
Michael Macgarry, who grew up and graduated with a degree in Fine Arts fromDurban, is a student of the world, having travelled, lived and studied in Ireland, London, Johannesburg and Cape Town. His work explores the complexities of imperialism and colonialism in Africa, and parodies the socio-political representation of administrative entities within the same context. Having also worked with commercial brands, Michael understands the balance that is required from an artist within the whole artistic realm. Winner of the Standard Bank Young Artist of The Year in 2010, Michael hassince hosted a series of solo exhibitions and his art has won followers and admirers.
Justin Dingwall - Fine Artist/Photographer - Multi and New Media/Photography Merit Award 2013-
Describing himself as a Contemporary Artist and Professional Photographer, Justin Dingwall was born and raised inBenoni, and pursued a degree in Photography in Pretoria. In 2007 he started working professionally as a photographer in Johannesburg. He is renowned for his fearless art series ‘Albus’, where he explored the aesthetics of albinism in contrast to thecommonly perceived misconceptions of ‘beauty’. He was awarded the Multi and New Media/Photography MeritAward in 2013 and was recently involved in the 2015 FNB Joburg Art Fair, exhibiting ‘Albus’.
‘Whirling Out’, Harsha Vardhan’s debut solo show brought together a body of works incorporating diverse media such as sculpture, video, performance and installations. He believes his work is about the other, and even personal history is somehow very peripheral to him. Harsha tries to shift the focus from the individual, particularly the artist himself towards the other, plainly spinning out. The exhibition can be described as a laboratory where Harsha has experimented with various materials and philosophies.The works revolve around the idea of whirling out, both bodily and metaphysically, being inspired by the whirling Dervishes in Turkey. The work is also a refreshing tactile departure from the “don't touch” rules in today's art world.
The show’s centerpiece is the sound sculpture ‘Column of Sound’ which shape-shifts sound into tactile form; it stands tall, as the artist brings tactility to sound through material, turning the hidden inside out.
The ‘Whirling Man’ is a life sized revolving portrait of the artist himself, representing spinning as life energy. The mobile sculpture is a manifestation of the artist’s body, as if in full spinning motion, which could be rotated by the spectator. The metaphor the work embodies comes from the principles of inertia and angular momentum which exist everywhere from atoms to the planets. It is scientifically recognized that the fundamental condition of our existence is to revolve. There is no being or object which does not revolve, since all beings are comprised of revolving electrons, protons, and neutrons in atoms. Everything revolves, and the human being lives by means of the revolution of these particles, by the revolution of the blood in his body, and by the revolution of the stages of his life, by his coming from the earth and his returning to it. All these revolutions are natural and unconscious. But the human being possesses a mind and an intelligence. Thus, the whirling Dervishes intentionally and consciously participate in the shared revolution of other beings.
An early impetus of the spinning portraits stems from the work ‘Spin Face‘ a revolving portrait which ceases to spin as if staring back at us. In sculptural form it is half-human and half spin-top. A maze carved on the revolving spin-top is only visible when motionless.
Both ‘Knots’ and ‘Boulders’ are video performances which reflect on two ideas about human relations with other beings and with the rest of nature. ‘Boulders’ symbolic represents the boulders which have taken 2,500 million years to form on this planet. These graceful boulders, in a variety of shapes and sizes, have withstood the vagaries of nature and its elements for ages. These formations are in the danger of being reduced to rubble due to the onslaught of relentless urbanization and mindless development. In the midst of cacophony, one finds solace in the aesthetics of a boulder and might emotionally connect to its existence. As an artist I try to explore the relation between boulders and humans which drown in tears as I hug them in grief.
‘Knots’ is a public intervention which questions the role of knots in the Indian marriage, playing a pivot role in bonding two human beings. Indian marriage starts with a knot imposing a belief that enables two humans to be together for life. During the performance knots were tied to the artist by fellow artists and participants who joined in the process of making knots, thereby critiquing the institution of marriage and its relevance in today’s age. Locals joined to tie three knots symbolic of the South Indian marriage, thereby raising questions about the rituals of marriage.
Harsha V Durugadda (b.1989) is a New Delhi based artist. Harsha uses scale and sensation to address both social and personal issues, through his practice which often moves between sculpture and performance art. Technology becomes key to Harsha’s work, be it cutting edge digital fabrication or new media tools. In 2015 his sculpture ‘Dynamo’ was part of EAS international ‘Translations’ exhibition in Portland, Oregon, followed by group show in London with artist collective ‘Plastic Propaganda’, and by the exhibition ‘Translations-Kolkata’ in Kolkata, India, in February 2016. He has participated in group and solo shows both in India and abroad and has received a fellowship by the British Council for his social art project. He currently is doing his Masters in Arts and Aesthetics at JNU where he pursues his interest in Buddhist sculpture and has recently been invited to present at the British Museum, London .
EAS Mexican artist and curator Alejandro 'Luperca' Morales conceived and implemented an itinerant gallery to bring contemporary art to underserved audiences in Ciudad Juarez. The city, across the Mexican border from El Paso, Texas, was the theatre of horrific drug cartels violence in the first decade of this century, violence that deeply affected its political and social identity, threatening the existence of its rich cultural and artistic life. 'Proyectos Impala' will play a big role in the city, which is recovering after years of violence, making books and art accessible to large audiences.
(English version below)
PROYECTOS IMPALA es un espacio de exhibición y Biblioteca Especializada en Arte Contemporáneo que inaugura la primera semana de abril 2016, en Ciudad Juárez.
Proyectos Impala surge como una necesidad para la difusión y educación de arte contemporánea que abarca todos los polígonos de Ciudad Juárez a través de una plataforma nómada.
El proyecto nace ante una emergencia cultural y artística por el rezago y falta de espacios alternativos para las artes y la formación de públicos así como la inexistencia de un acervo de publicaciones especializadas en arte contemporáneo en la localidad.
Al contrario de un espacio fijo, propone llegar al público a través de una plataforma nómada que le permite desplazarse a todas las zonas convirtiéndose en un espacio atractivo, dinámico e incluyente. Impala es una galería de arte contemporáneo y biblioteca especializada dentro de una caja seca de trailer de grandes proporciones que conduce en el espacio público proyectos curatoriales y administra un espacio de socialización, aprendizaje, creación y descubrimiento, en donde se encuentra material bibliográfico y documentación de arte contemporáneo.
Es un espacio no comercial que dialoga y confronta las problemáticas de nuestra región, teniendo como misión abarcar la mayor parte de la ciudad llevando propuestas únicas y posicionándose como un motor clave para la transformación de los modos de experimentar el arte.
Con esta iniciativa, no solo los ojos del mundo contemporáneo voltearán a la ciudad, sino que se des-estigmatiza a la región como un espacio infértil y marcado por la violencia.
No solo los factores sociales, culturales y económicos sino también los climáticos en una ciudad de frío y calor extremos y una planeación urbana que convierte a la ciudad en un “espacio fragmentado”, muchas veces afectan el desplazamiento del público a este tipo de eventos que por razones de falta de tiempo o movilidad se quedan sin asistir a la oferta cultural. El proyecto busca fomentar una red flexible que consolidará un circuito integral para las artes contemporáneas y que va acorde a la cultura fronteriza, en donde nuestra posición geográfica nos ubica como una ciudad de tránsito. Es por eso que esta plataforma apuesta a que el arte también debe ser de sentido comunitario
Campo y línea temática
1. Fomento al libro y la lectura -Apoyo a la gestión para la adquisición de acervos bibliográficos de bibliotecas municipales y comunitarias, así como círculos o salas de lectura.
2. Preservación, Investigación y Difusión del Patrimonio Cultural -Apoyo a la creación y consolidación de museos comunitarios.
3. Fortalecimiento de la Infraestructura Cultural -Contribución a la realización de obras menores de restauración y equipamiento de espacios culturales existentes: galería o espacio de exhibición.
Lugares en los que se desarrollarán las actividades
Universidades públicas y privadas, escuelas primarias, secundarias y preparatorias; plazas públicas; parques; centros comunitarios; empresas maquiladoras, instituciones gubernamentales, con énfasis en los polígonos de pobreza patrimonial de la entidad.
Alejandro Morales (Ciudad Juárez, 1990).
Es graduado con Mención Honorífica de la Licenciatura en Teoría y Crítica del Arte en la Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez (2013).
Como artista ha exhibido en Argentina, Bolivia, Brasil, Chile, Cuba, Corea del Sur, EE.UU, Francia, Italia y México. Trabajó en las áreas de organización, investigación y desarrollo de exposiciones y catálogos en el Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende y el proyecto de la Peggy Guggenheim Collection de Venecia en el Centro Cultural Palacio La Moneda.
Como curador ha desarrollado Index: Archiving the edges of Violence en el Rubin Center for the Visual Arts (2014); Horror Pleni, en Espacio de Arte Contemporáneo en Montevideo, Uruguay (2015) y el Tercer Salón ACME representando al Estado de Chihuahua en México D.F. (2015). Fue seleccionado como curador internacional por el Programa Distrital de Estímulos de la Fundación Gilberto Alzate Avendaño 2015 en Bogotá, Colombia.
Francis Alÿs, artista
Kerry Doyle, Directora del Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts de UTEP
Alpha Escobedo, Jefa de Departamento de Arte de la Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez
Julio César Morales, Artista y Curador del Arizona State University Museum
‘Proyectos Impala’ is a new exhibition space and library specializing in contemporary art that opens this week in the city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
The project is born out of a cultural and artistic emergency/crisis due to the difficult situation in this city and the lack of spaces for the arts and artistic publications.
‘Proyectos Impala’ has created a contemporary art gallery and library in a fully restored large dry box trailer, where one can now find bibliographic material and contemporary art documentation. It produces curatorial projects and offers a space for socializing, learning, creating, and discovering.
Unlike a fixed space, it reaches the public through a nomadic space, allowing the gallery and library to travel to all areas of the city and beyond, thus becoming an attractive, dynamic and inclusive space.
It is a non-commercial space that dialogues about and confronts the problems of our region, with the mission of covering most of the city of Juarez, offering unique proposals and positioning itself as a key component in the transformation of the modes of experiencing art.
This initiative not only will turn the eyes of the contemporary world to Ciudad Juarez, but it will help to de-stigmatize the region as a barren space that is marked by violence.
Social, cultural and economic factors, together with the weather in a region of extreme cold and heat, and a deficient urban planning, have turned the city into a "fragmented space”. This often affects the movement of the public to cultural and artistic events, preventing people from enjoying its cultural offerings, due to lack of time or mobility.
This project seeks to promote a flexible network that will consolidate an integrated circuit for contemporary arts, especially given the “border culture” of the region, since our geographical position places us as a transit town. This platform is believing that art can also build a sense of community.
Mission and goals:
1. Promotion of books and reading, as well as reading groups and reading rooms. Support for the acquisition of library collections form municipal and community libraries.
2. Preservation, research and dissemination of our cultural heritage. Support the creation and consolidation of community museums.
3. Strengthening cultural Infrastructure. Contributing to the completion of restoration works and equipment under existing cultural spaces: galleries or exhibition spaces.
Places where activities will take place:
Public and private universities, primary, secondary and high schoolspublic places; parks, community centers, factories and government institutions, with an emphasis on low income areas of the region.
Funded by ISE NY Cultural Foundation grant, Proyectos Impala’s first exhibition, The Architecture of Sex by photographer and writer Kurt Hollander, will open April 6th, 2016.
Alejandro Morales (Ciudad Juarez, 1990)
He graduated with honors from the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez, earning a BA in Theory and Criticism of Art (2013).As an artist he has exhibited in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, South Korea, USA, France, Italy and Mexico. He worked in the areas of organization, research, development and catalogs of exhibitions at the Museum of Salvador Allende and La Moneda Palace Cultural Center in Santiago, Chile, and at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy.As a curator he has curated ‘Archiving the Edges of Violence’ at the Rubin Center for the Visual Arts (2014); ‘Pleni Horror’ in the Contemporary Art Space in Montevideo, Uruguay (2015) and the ‘Third Hall ACME’, representing the state of Chihuahua in Mexico City (2015). He was selected as an international curator for the District Incentives Program of Gilberto Alzate Avendaño Foundation 2015 in Bogota, Colombia.
-Francis Alÿs , artist
-Kerry Doyle , Director of Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts UTEP
-Alpha Escobedo , Head of Art Department of the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez
-Julio Cesar Morales , Artist and Curator of Arizona State University Museum
“My people will sleep for one hundred years, but when they awake, it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.” - Louis Riel
‘The Universal Game - One Flag to Connect Us All’ is an outreach art project conceived and produced by Spanish artist 233, who was the Visiting Artist at the Human Rights Research and Education Center of the University of Ottawa, Canada in the Fall of 2015.
The motivation for this project came from a desire to mark the International Human Rights Day (December 10th) through art. The concept entailed putting together pieces of flags reflecting the nationalities of University of Ottawa students in a large banner displayed in a central location within the campus. Elements of this jigsaw included pieces of flags and universal symbols such as the dove, the flame, the balance, etc.
In order to create the canvas, the Human Rights Center invited the University of Ottawa community to participate in a ‘Jigsaw Day, Let’s Play!’ collective art performance. Pieces of the jigsaw were previously created in an art workshop also open to the public. Once the game was finished, the resulting design was photographed and printed onto a vinyl banner. The banner was unveiled to the University of Ottawa community on December 10th in an Opening Ceremony.
The message is one of union, diversity and rich global exchange and inclusivity.
233 (Ramon Blanco Barrera) is a PhD Candidate and Professor in Training at the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Seville, Spain. In his art he sends social and political messages in order to make people reflect about their communities, both local and universal, constantly bringing up human rights concepts and values. He uses the number ‘233’ in reference to the ‘identity game’ of our overpopulated world system. His artworks have been exhibited in several countries. His last solo shows were in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and in Seville, Spain.
Maja Hodošček's project with a class of teenage students was presented to the public at the Škuc Gallery, Ljubljana, Slovenija, from December 10, 2015 through January 15, 2016. We are happy to publish the curator's article about the exhibition.
At a time when we are painfully aware of the effects of the atomisation of society, how to reverse this process is anything but self-evident. It is clear that the process is not reversible, that we cannot seize the lost power of the collective by looking to the past and simply reconstructing it. Jacques Rancière argues that human beings are tied together by a sensory fabric which defines the ways of a community, defining politics as the transformation of the sensory fabric of the community. The multitude of connections and disconnections “which define the way in which art weaves a community are made en vue de – ‘with a view to’, in the hope of - a people which is still missing”.
Maja Hodošček begins her project in Celje's Centre Grammar School, in school’s debate group, to be more precise, with an insight into the dialectics of connections and disconnections. For several months, pupils met to write a collective poem, which was a reaction to the general feeling of political powerlessness and based on the background of the history of the non-aligned movement. Things become complicated when planning for the future.
First, the students must overcome their feeling of apathy and become aware that history cannot simply be brought back to life; they have to avoid the hazards of instant solutions. The students slowly progress, checking and promoting their ideas, trying to listen and consider others, and position their reflections on their own experience in a wider social context. They strive to respect the evolving community, and not ruin the principles that they believe can lift us from the rut in which we are stuck. And moreover, there is the need to create an artwork, to write a poem. The parallel processes of creation, of the creative school group and Maja Hodošček and her establishing the situation, are the core of her efforts to examine new modes of representation.
The dynamics establishing creative school groups is manifested as moments in the antagonistic creation of community. Footage of the students “looking for” an artwork as their meeting point by no means reflects a search for an “expression” that would represent a certain idea or state. Quite the contrary, the videos follow processes of dis-identification which are the condition of political subjectivity. The prerequisite for the students to act as political subjects is for them to stop identifying as students and to redirect their gaze elsewhere. The separation of their position in school and the new perspective into a different direction clearly demonstrates the new distribution of the sensory, new definitions of what a body can or cannot do. The political moment of the creative process of the Celje Grammar School debating society does not rely on the fact that the incentive for discussion was the non-aligned movement or the possibility of a third way, but on the fact that the creative processes, followed by Maja Hodošček in her work, bring about a certain change in the sensorium.
This moment is highlighted by the videos Poem, Jam and Celebration, which present theatre and musical pieces by other creative groups of secondary school students. While these were inspired by the ‘political’ poem of the debating society, the videos are more concerned with works of art than with the process. Jam sessions, a capella improvisation and improvised theatre can no longer be linked to concrete political content, but are the result of a process whose moment of sensory redistribution is decidedly political. It is a political effect brought about by an aesthetic experience by disturbing the prescribed methods of how bodies should match their functions and positions.
We Need a Title is actually a contemplation of the alternatives available to art for its political engagement. It is symptomatic that we progress from engaged discussion of a school debating society to art works that do not produce activist rhetoric nor directly set coordinates for the functioning of a new community, but 'redistribute' elements of experience of their environment, school. They begin to regard themselves as something else and not (just) students, thereby finding new methods of collective enunciation. In this respect, Maja Hodošček is not writing a story about the embracing power of art but rather explores how we are “apart, yet together” in the reframing of our perceptions and affects. Therefore, the exhibition begins and ends with a work in progress, The Dreaming Society. The work is an open platform, an empty space, that the students must yet define with their own reflections, which is strangely explained by the following statement by Rancière: ”The art work is the people to come, and it is a monument to its expectation, a monument to its absence. The artistic ‘dissensual community’ has a double body: it is a combination of means for producing an effect out of itself: creating a new community between human beings, a new political people.”
Curator: Vladimir Vidmar
Maja Hodoscek, teacher and artist, is here interested in the transitional moment from the act of speaking to the moment of collective being and working together. The moment of being and doing things together, however, is a complicated process, since individual voices have to be in sync with the overall interest of the group. The videos expose moments of mutual effort of creation, disagreement, and points of negotiation.
“Shameless” is a performance series about the social concerns and views about shame.
“Shame and Erotica" is the first performance of this project.
The series is not seeking a deep theoretical understanding or explanation of shame. It is about how our bodies become objectified in shame by our social views about eroticism, sin, and gender roles.
As a performance artist I believe that the body is the main protagonist of my performance pieces. I want to give the viewer an intimate experience through sound, light and space transformation, where the viewer will experience a body as a live object.
It was my 24th birthday: I woke up in my bed, on my bedside table I found a letter written by my mother. The other day my mother saw my portfolio, and she found a lithographic image that I made back in 2014. She was shocked to see that her son had drawn picture of himself wearing a bra. I got the letter on the morning of my 24th birthday, and in it my mom showed her anger, frustration, guilt and shame about me . Yes, it is about me and my identity. The identity I have been talking about shamelessly for the last few years, with my family, my friend and with the people I am surrounded by in Dhaka.
Being open about my sexual orientation was not a super easy thing for me. I went through the tunnel of depression and suppression, I went through the journey of questioning myself about my identity. Is this identity a shame, or am I being shameless to talk about it publicly? This journey took me to also question my surroundings about the meaning of masculinity, identity and shame. I still don’t have the answer. I still don’t understand why my mother on her letter was saying that me/ my identity is a shame for me and my family.
In this work I am not looking for something beyond my life. It is a performance that I am trying to present in front of a large audience to make them think about my personal issue and about their experience of shame , masculinity and identity.
Ali Asgar is a young artist who lives and works in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He obtained a BFA in printmaking from the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka in 2015. He mainly works in print making and live art.
Ali's work addresses issues of gender, sexuality and social taboos, often referring back to his personal conflicts vis-a-vis the stereotypes imposed on the members of a minority community. He regularly uses his own body and self-imagery as a rudimentary element to walk the line between the reality and the artifice of self-analysis.