Everard Read, Cape Town
27.10.16 – 18.11.16
‘Material City’ at Everard Read curated by Sandile Radebe is in celebration of their 20th anniversary. Consisting of artists from Cape Town and Johannesburg, the exhibition tackles the urban landscape bringing forward an exciting show with multiple mediums. Taking both the downstairs and upstairs spaces – the exhibition opens with exciting playful works and gradually escalates to a dark undertone. I arrived at the gallery to have a chat with Radebe, Io Makandal and Frankie Herwels (a member of H!JACK) to talk about the show.
Brett Charles Seiler: What was the main focus of creating a show about the city?
Sandile Radebe: Artists were invited to generate work based on their interaction, perception and understanding of networks that exist within the city and urban landscape through materiality.
BS: Can you tell us more about the two installations downstairs?
SR: Yes, the wall installation by Amber-Jade Geldenhuys is comprised of metal angles constructed with bolts with a gap in the centre. The work signifies controlled access to secured spaces. It is encouraged by the audience to continue to build the work without instruction thus making the audience responsible for the interpretation and assemblage of the work. It becomes a playful and functional work in the show reflecting on construction, access and repetition.
BS: Especially since there is a hole in the structure – it seems as though we are able to walk through it and interact with it but with hesitation.
SR: Yes, which bring the issue of accessiblity and whether or not someone is able to enter or not.
BS: It constrasted nicely with Io Makandal’s work which was more organic and less geometric.
SR: Yes, with Io Makandal’s work she combined unusual materials to create a map of the city. Using contrasting materials/textures like concrete, string, paper plate, condoms and plastic fencing – as if one was walking the city.
Frankie Herwels: It reminded me of life’s clutter in a way, with all these party objects on the wall – it appeared vulnerable.
Io Makandal: Especially the use of helium balloons as a material, for their quality of uplifting something and then gradually deflating to the ground. This has a sort of pathetic-ness to it.
SR: It became relatable because of the materials she used. Making the gallery more aware of these objects we tend to discard and pass-by on the streets.
BS: There seems to be a relation to your work [Io Makandal] And there was a live painting performance that happened on the opening…
SR: Having the live painting by Skubalisto is related to Makandal’s because both are gestural and have a great use of colour and vibrancy. I wanted to include the performance because to show the audience how graffiti artists work and how organic (again, which relates to Makandal’s work) the process can become.
BS: Hi!jACK tailored an amazing outfit with a reflective mask, can you tell us little more about this work and how you curated the show in relation to this piece?
SR: The members of H!JACK created work referencing how objects symbolize classes, and then creating clothing out of these objects and thus performing their class. Lesiba Mabitsela, being a fashion designer, made these necklaces out of rips and safely pin. The other works by H!JACK, of the suit made by storm blankets from pep and the photograph of the him standing by the Artscape theatre, was made to comment on the classism, alienation and gentrification of the City of Cape Town.
I placed the suit at the top of the gallery, which perhaps made it more dramatic – also because of the black walls, because it coexisted with one of their videos that were playing. I found there was also a great conversation between the suit and the nudity of Claire Rousell’s portraits.
BS: How does it feel to bring urban art into a gallery setting? With some work being made in the city and bring it to a private space in a sense.
IM: I do feel like there is this interesting tension of bringing an urban language into a traditional setting. It brings a beautiful contrasting conversation and it compliments the work and the space!
SR: Yes, in that sense it acted as a disruption.
BS: When are you going to curate another show?
RS: Hahaha, I think I am going to focus on my own work for a bit when I arrive back in Johannesburg.
Each artist held a strong individual voice in the exhibition, and took on the combination of the two subjects, being materiality and the city, in a thought-provocative and interesting way unbound to particular mediums. It brought forward a new and fresh group of urban artists that have made engaging work that highlights subjects politically, socially and poetically.
Material City was an exciting disruption at the Everard Space and it seemed to be thoughtful and strategic in its time with CIRCA opening around the corner – leaving us a hint of what else they may have awaiting us.