WAYS OF SEEING (EXCERPT)
Reviewed by Lloyd Pollock*
(Note: this excerpt is part of a review of the exhibition "Ways of Seeing" in the July 2010 issue of Arttimes. Ways of Seeing was curated by William Marten and July Donald as the inaugural exhibition of the ORE gallery in Cape Town. Pollack mentions a specific work of Werner Ungerer's which formed part of the narrative installation "The Ecstasy of St. Daniël Engelbrecht" (a collaborative project between Werner Ungerer and Pierre Fouché) which was previously exhibited as part of the "Swallow my Pride" queer art exhibition at Blank Projects in March 2010.)
... Werner Ungerer's 'A Boy Beyond it All" is an excerpt from an environment he and his partner, Pierre Fouché created recently at Blank projects. They constructed the bedroom of a fictitious alter-ego, and used it to evoke their shared adolescent experience of coming to terms with their homosexuality within the prohibitive environment of an Afrikaans dorp**. A question mark hangs over the fate of their invented doppelganger who disappeared, leaving only his room to mark his troubled passage through life.
This is a work of intimate confessional inspiration that blurs the boundaries between art and writing. It consists of a hand-written journal penned in a state of desperate urgency by the vanished writer who sifts through his dreams, imaginings and experiences in an attempt to overcome his sense of abnormality, isolation and confusion. Our ignorance of his fate and inability to sort delusion and fantasy from truth cast a pall of mystery over the text and enhance its magnetism. As he sieves through his psyche, his control breaks down and he defaces his impeccably neat writing with frantic, hastily scrawled injunctions that reveal how overpowering anger, frustration and self-contempt gnaw away at his analytic poise and precarious mental balance.
This piece has the compulsive, but illicit allure of a diary, love letter or suicide note. We cannot resist reading what should obviously be strictly private, and our voyeuristic browsing induces a queasy moral unease, making us question whether by figurative peering through the keyhole and sniffing the soiled sheets, we do not contribute to the boy's pariah status.
* Reference for this article: Pollock, L. 2010. ‘Ways of seeing - at the ORE Gallery’. Arttimes: Businessart. July 2010. p.8
** "Dorp" is the Afrikaans term for a small town or village.