THE LACEMAKER'S STUDIO (2014) DOCK: Basel
This exhibition traced my discovery and development of an optical bobbin lace tulle ground technique from its initial sampler experiment to the making of a representational lace panel utilising the technique. The lacemaker's studio highlighted the fragility and labour intensity of the medium through patterns, notes, lace, and the peculiar, often hand-made tools and equipment particular to the lacemaker. This exhibition was the culmination of a three month IAAB (now Ateliers Mondial) residency in Basel which was made possible by the Prohelvetia.
Untitled (2014) Performance at Tranches de Quai 24, HEAR, Mulhouse, France
UNTITLED (FOR THE LOVE OF IT) 10/6/2010 - 10/7/2010
For a football-themed exhibition ("Inverting the Pyramid" held at blank projects in Cape Town, 2010) coinciding with the 2010 FIFA World Cup hosted by South Africa, my contribution focused on the homosocial aspect of the sport. Using images culled from #football-is-so-gay (and related) tagged web images, this project highlights the close proximity between the homosocial and the -sexual (which in turn requires the strong disavowal of the latter in order to maintain heterosexual masculine superiority). When viewed without the context of the specificity of the game that led to the bouts of male bonding and affection, these images are comparable with soft gay erotica and -visual culture.
THE ECSTASY OF ST. DANIEL ENGELBRECHT (IN COLLABORATION WITH WERNER UNGERER) 3/03/2010 - 20/03/2010
As soon as I'm left alone
the Devil wanders into my soul
And I pretend to myself.
I go out to the old mile stone
Insanely expecting you to come there knowing
That I wait for you there [...]
Because all of my being is now pining”
- P.J. Harvey (White Chalk)
On 12 September 1994 Daniël Engelbrecht's ageing foster parents reported their 17 year old son missing. According to Pieter and Ragel Vermeulen, the boy became increasingly withdrawn during the two weeks leading up to his disappearance on 10 September. He “...started working through the night on his strange notes more often.. not caring for much else, eating very little, hardly ever leaving his bedroom”, noted Mrs. Vermeulen in the police report. The puzzle of Daniël's disappearance shocked the little town of Barendsdorp, firstly through Pieter and Ragel Vermeulen's sorrow and the fruitless search parties of the first few weeks, and then through the unprecedented number of visitors on pilgrimage to the boy's bedroom – When Ragel noted the miraculous disappearance of her severe psoriasis after touching the boy's linen to a neighbor, it wasn't long before the boy's room became a revered site for all manner of religious and occult fanatics. After expert analysis of his diaries revealed Daniël's apparent delusional psychosis to be the result of his latent homosexuality, and his inability to relate to others, he became somewhat of a cult figure in the gay community, further complicating the Barendsdorp “pilgrim problem”. Daniël's body was never recovered. No foul play suspected. His story forgotten in view of the important events that changed South-Africa that year.
Richard Corliss describes adolescence as “...a time of grand and awful responsibilities, the transformation of the body before the mind is ready, the queasy realization that every decision can have ecstatic or cataclysmic consequences”. This period of human development is the subject of the first collaboration between my partner Werner Ungerer & myself: The ecstasy of St. Daniël Engelbrecht. The first part of this project took the form of an installation, a fictional recreation of a teenage boy's bedroom. The project is inspired by the uncanny similarity of our experiences growing up in small town South Africa, and our mutual interest in visual narrative. The installation tells the story of a teenager's increasing inability to consolidate reality and his dream-world/fantasies through video, drawing, found objects, text and calligraphy.
This project was presented as part of the group exhibition "Swallow my pride" (Curated by Margaret Stone, Dale Washkansky, Lizza Littlewort & William Martin) at blank projects, Cape Town.
The following link provides an excerpt from a review of one of the works by Werner Ungerer which formed part of the installation. click here.
Corliss, R. 2009. Harry Potter: Darker, Richer and All Grown Up, in Time Magazine. Wednesday, Jul. 15
Harvey, PJ. 2007. 'The Devil' written & performed by PJ Harvey. Track 1 from the album 'White Chalk'. Produced by PJ Harvey, John Parish, Flood. Island Records
THE GIFT (Collaboration with Liza Grobler ) 24/10/2009
This large-scale outdoor lacemaking performance was a special project and the closing event of Liza Grobler's exhibition 'Visitor' at the Irma Stern Museum, Cape Town. In 1920's attire, the artists set about creating a long lace panel on the lawn of the Irma Stern Museum's garden using wooden spikes and a mallet to pin the knots, gift-wrapping ribbon as thread, and bobbins cut out of pink foam. The lace pricking was marked out with caulking. Visitors were invited to picnic while the lace was being made.
AS TIME WENT ON... 25/05/2009 - 12/06/2009
My interest in lace is a logical progression of my general interest in thread-craft techniques: from creating needlepoint tapestries,to knitted and crocheted sculptural panels, I realised that my progression and moves between different thread-craft traditions involved a gradual reduction of threads and their thickness: from working with multiple stranded thread to single threads on a single thread woven fabric, from working with thread on a ground, to creating the ground as a means in itself (knitting/crochet). Bobbin lace is the logical next step for me, since the tradition allows the most amount of freedom of creating fabric forms through weaving and twisting fine thread.
I've become an imposter in a tradition which generally excluded men in the manufacturing of lace. As an artist I am an outsider within the craft's current structures based around craft guilds and hobby-practitioners as well. The minutae of certain histories concerning the tradition further informs my pursuit of bobbin lace-making as art: The personal nature and sentiment attached to inscribed antique bobbins is the motivation for my working with English style bobbins, for example. The late 16th and 17th c. lace industry in the south of Devon where boys were sent to lace schools to keep them busy until they were old enough to work in the fishing or agriculture industries, is another specific history that I am drawing from. These are all elements of the craft's history which appeal to my general attraction to history's oddities, especially when these histories involve the romantic, sentiment and feminised masculinity.
This project involved my using one venue in the exhibition space as a lace-making studio. Through the duration of the exhibition I pinned the completed samples of traditional lace-ground patterns to the wall. On the opening night made lace in formal dress.
LOVE & MISERY 24/03/2007 & 14/04/2007
PERFORMANCE: The artist switches on the stage lights, and selects the playlist from his ipod. The music starts. The artist unbuttons and removes his shirt, chooses a T-shirt from the cable wire, and puts it on just as the vocals of the song starts. The artist mimes singing the song with as much emotion as he Can muster. The process is repeated for each of the following fourteen tracks: Some quiet and acoustic, some hard and experimental rock, pop.. some male and some female vocalists. All dealing with love lost, regret & memory... some are celebratory. Some tracks are performed sitting down, others standing up. By the end of the performance the artist is visibly out of breath & sweating. He takes off the last T-shirt; puts on his original shirt, switches off the stage lights, gives a slightly self-conscious and embarrassed bow, and leaves.
This performance is my own take on the traditional drag-cabaret, and is inspired by the tortures of love, the highly personal nature of self-made music compilations and the corporeal nature of some music-induced aesthetic experiences (with a tip of the hat to Gozales-Torres concerning the stage design of course...) It was performed at the Bijou Art Studios open day event as part of the X-Cape fringe.
PERFORMANCE PLAYLIST DISCOGRAPHY
The Magnetic Fields (2004) “I don't really love you anymore” from the Album I (Nonesuch Records). Written & Performed by Stephin Merritt.
Faithless (2001) “Crazy English summer” from the Album Outrospective (Cheeky Records) Performed by Zoë Johnston.
Poe (2000) “Haunted” from the album Haunted (Sheridan Square). Written & Performed by Poe.
Ane Brun (2003) “Are they saying goodbye?” from the album Spending time wih Morgan (DetErMineRecords) Written & Performed by Ane Brun.
The Magnetic Fields (1999) “I don't want to get over you” from the album 69 love songs vol. 1 (Merge Records) Written & performed by Stephin Merritt.
Juliette & the Licks (2005) “I never got to tell you what I wanted to” from the Album You're Speaking My Language (Fiddler Records) Co-written & performed by Juliette Lewis.
Ani DiFranco (1994) “Falling's like this” - from the album Out of range (Righteous Babe Records), Written & performed by Ani DiFranco
Wendy Mcneill (feat. Ane Brun) (2005) “Such a common bird” from the album Duets (DetErMineRecords) Written by Wendy Mcneill, performed by Wendy Mcneill & Ane Brun.
The Dresden Dolls (2006 ) “Sex changes” from the album Yes, Virginia... (Roadrunner Records). Written and performed by Amanda Palmer & Brian Viglione.
The Magnetic fields (1999) “The book of Love” from the album 69 love songs vol. 1 (Merge Records), Written & performed by Stephin Merritt.
Tobias Froberg (feat. Ane Brun) “Love & Misery” from the album Duets (DetErMineRecords) Written by Tobias Fröberg, performed by Tobias Fröbergs & Ane Brun.
Muse (2003) “Endlessly” from the album Absolution (Mushroom Records), Performed by Matt Bellamy.
The Magnetic fields (2004) “Its only time” - from the album I (Nonesuch Records), Written & performed by Stephin Merritt.
Death Cab for Cutie (2004) “Marching bands of Manhattan” from the album Plans (Atlantic), Performed by Ben Gibbard.
TAKE IT LIKE A MAN - POLAROIDS BY RENTBOYS 25/05/2009 - 12/06/2009
Seven male sex-workers from a prominent Cape Town agency were introduced to the world of photography through Polaroid lenses. The participants each received a Polaroid camera and after a basic demonstration and presentation of essential camera and composition basics, were given an open brief to snap their environment and themselves.
The resulting images (which were shown at blank projects in July 2006) revealed a surprising sensitivity of keen observation in some, and a delightful and playful portrait of Cape Town and surrounds in others, while a select few made direct reference to the participant’s working environment.
As a whole the results were a realistic affirmation: filled with light, beaches, sand and leisure time on one hand, counter-pointed by a darker interior side on the other. The world revealed through the eyes of individual rent boys seems not much different from any Capetownian’s world, and by inference, everyone who experiences life as a paradoxical combination of joy and celebration despite difficult circumstances and a few cloudy days of the soul.
This project and exhibition aimed at gaining visibility for individuals forging an existence in this doubly negated realm of identity on the eve of proposed legislative reforms to the sex-work industry as a whole.
Take it like a man was made possible with funding from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, administered as a Greatmore Studios outreach project, with special support from S.W.E.A.T (the Sex Workers Education and Action taskforce)
This project has been reviewed as part of a greater review about the D.I.E.N.S-collective's participation in the KKNK 2004: http://www.artthrob.co.za/04may/project.html