22.05 – 30.06.2018
Technology has never been more accessible. And as such, neither have we.
The majority of us (privileged enough to afford data costs) are all in a co-dependent relationship with technology; for some of us it’s the closest we’ve come to commitment. Intimacy, art, love, opinion – it’s all channelled through a portal and publicized on a platform we’ve fashioned for ourselves. Human connection has become a matter of supply and demand; what do we want, who do we want it from and how do we want it? Our cell phones are our primary channel for the business of communication and connection that we’re in. “I can’t sleep without my phone next to me,” Dada says, “even when the battery is at its lowest [I] would rather charge it in the morning than have it charge overnight on a desk next to the bed. It’s an extra limb.” Add to this thinking, the lived experiences of the black community and it’s only natural that a story unfolds that is enthralling and worthy.
Dada’s first solo exhibition climbs into this context at the Stevenson Gallery, quickly forging a unique and distinctive path. In the artworks, Dada brings you close, and then pulls away from you, tugging you to and fro between yourself and all of the presented familiar faces. Khaw’phinde um’trye gives pause, gives weight and begs the question: what dictates what stays the same and what changes? Echoes of a quiet candlelit kitchen that many of us have sat in, quietly contemplating how a world can exist outside of our truth, that we are committed to sustaining despite its lacking.
Not only does Dada’s scope encompass various intimacies, exchanges and snapshots of our lives – but the keen eye that presents these moments, so layered with love and detail, also prompts us to ask ourselves what these moments mean to us. What is borne from the resonance? And how these narratives are etched in with the bodies that move in front of it, talking, posing, fawning and observing. Si la ngaphandle wena uva? takes the detail beyond the frame, along with Okay so I’ll leave the phone behind. Dada’s technique utilises bold texture, a myriad of colours and a variety of frameworks and structures between the pieces. A shifting lens, pointed angles and perspectives all surround the parallels of ‘social’ society and the cultural nuances that are bleeding through despite the habitual pretence we hold so dear.
Squad Goals (internet friends are not your real friends), speaks directly to this with a selection of confidant acrylic colours, wooden canvassing and perfectly poised subjects. Dada refers to cellphones as “An essential part of the experience”, alluding to a Catch 22 that’s revealing itself through the story-telling of ‘Bamb’iphone’. Etching detail into our behaviour by way of modern mediums has helped us to navigate one another, yet the question is whether we will ever aim to understand one another. Technology has embellished the narrative of the endless debate around our humanity, but the cyclic nature at our axis has brought us full circle despite each and every advancement in its stead as we fumble between function and design. A summation of these thought-processes is brought to a head with the piece: Abalandeli.
Abalandeli frames a queue of people, bearing cell phones which we know to house a plethora of applications encouraging users to follow, be followed and engage with one another at levels that were unprecedented but ten years ago. As the layers of Dada’s world unfurl before the audience, viewers find themselves woven into the narrative as participants, their very presence subsumed into the work’s scope. Coupled with additional audio developed with writer and academic Julie Nxadi, the three dimensional artworks are fleshed out even further by her voice that can embody any one of Dada’s subjects. Bamb’iphone is as introspective as it is observant, speaking to Dada’s focus and fervour.