Friday, March 15, 2013
This weekend there's a little art shindig going on in Cape Town, a public arts festival entitled Infecting the City, which I really wish I could be present at. The reason I mention this is the art collective Vuka Ndlovu* is participating with a public art work (entitled Media Me) posing questions about commercial consumption, advertising media, economics (and some of the absurdities therein), place and celebrity. The project in question is a billboard (located at the Southern end of Long Street) featuring a local informal trader/artisan, Lester "Skyline" Maphike, who makes furniture in the area. Somewhat of a local celebrity, his materials are regularly confiscated in the various locales he sets up shop, and there is undeniable irony in the fact that the very authorities who are funding this project are the ones confiscating his materials on a regular basis. I was drafted into this project at a fairly late date, and after asking many annoying questions about ethics and what the fuck we were actually doing, signed myself onboard, doing the final graphics for the billboard. Interestingly, the more I think about it the more interesting the idea becomes to me. There are the obvious incongruities of putting a man of his economic standing on a billboard, and the results should be interesting, whether it generates significant follow up interest in him and his work, what kind of interest it generates, or whether it becomes a minor blip on commuters' already contested attention spans. But there are also the less immediate associations and questions, as an artist or 'maker' of any kind, having a space to work is imperative, and at various times I have felt this lack keenly, making things, being constructive and creative in any manner, requires space, and he is currently temporarily occupying spaces, owning them for a short while before being hurried on. The group intends to continue working with Skyline should he be willing, and perhaps this issue of space will change, perhaps not. It would even be a bit of an assumption on my part to presume that he had similar priorities to me. But I have come to realise that to have "a room of one's own" is a privileged space to be in. I should be posting a further update on this project, but in the meantime, the festival runs from the 11th to 16th March.
*Vuka Ndlovu consist of a group of artists based in KZN, their names are as follows: William Le Cordeur; Nick Crooks; Muzi-wah Art; Wayne Reddiar; Natalie Fossey; Modisa Tim Motsomi; Nicole Schafer; Rob Mills; and myself.
Posted by Sita Suzanne at 12:08 AM
Monday, February 4, 2013
I’m sitting in a slightly grimy train compartment, hoping like hell I have it to myself (fuck, I don’t, a woman with a baby just arrived), and contemplating the decisions made over the last couple of weeks. They involve a return to old haunts and a re-invigoration of my academic interests. I am both enthused and ambivalent. (I’m also hoping this isn’t the start of a hackneyed horror or drama plot, a bunch of disparate strangers stuck together for 12 hours in an overheated train carriage seems just the ticket. Its possible a little claustrophobia is setting in.) I’m off to the town I largely grew up in. A town that certainly left its mark on me, and was hoping to only experience for the duration of brief visits in the future. But the thing is, I want to be curious for a living, and my previous job did not allow for that. So in the interests of re-awakening myself from the dead, I am going to lecture in the digital arts. Hopefully, I am going to encourage some seriously anarchic curiosity in my students, about themselves and the world, make a fuck-ton of my own work, and maybe even roll out a Phd about something or other in the process.
(More thoughts on trains: they’re rather noisy, but sometimes in a soothing way. They evoke nostalgia even when you have minimal memories of them, too many films I guess. My main two childhood memories of trains involve a journey with my mother accompanied by a strange old woman with long grey hair to her heels, and her son notable in my memory for being ridiculously tall with massive ears, a fondness for AWB flags and bee keeping, and obviously (perhaps in retrospect) mentally handicapped in some way. The atmosphere evoked by the two of them reminding me of the bloodier, more visceral version of the Grimm Fairy Tales. The other memory involves playing truant from school with other teenagers, exploring the local train tunnels, indulging in some secretive adolescent rebellion.)
Its going to be hard, I was just starting to make a home in Joburg, and I partially resent uprooting again, but at least it seems I shall be bringing the main aspects of my new home back with me, namely my boyfriend, espresso machine and bike (yes, in that order), but not quite yet.
Posted by Sita Suzanne at 12:09 PM
Sunday, September 2, 2012
What is it about bodies that excite the(my) imagination so? I don’t mean this in the sense of pure titillation, though eroticism is most certainly part of it, but more in the sense of their incredibly base beauty, alluring yet discomforting. Perhaps it is just me, but the tension between needing to ward off the foreign touch and to reach out and caress it, to let one’s gaze linger over it, is quite compelling. Its not always there, it flits in and out of of my consciousness, but when it is it can be quite the heady aroma. I have realized that no matter how my ideas change, how cerebral they become, there is always a carnality to the images I make. It is based perhaps, in the need for connection and to reach across the strange disjuncture, which is probably largely illusory, between the stuff in my head and the physical dead heaviness that sometimes overwhelms the rest of me. In the recognition of the interesting things that happen when this disjuncture is overcome, when everything fires up, becomes tautly wound, bristling with energy and wild abandoned precision.
I have a passion for figurative art, not just any mind you, but those images that are visceral, that jar slightly, that make you realise the wetness of what lies within them. I find the idea of imperfections intriguing. And the smoother the paper, the more tactile and broken the body needs to be to bridge that gap.
I was once given a DVD entitled Destricted containing artists’ attempts to grapple with the the shadowy distinction between what is art and pornography. Is it a subjective distinction? Or are there empirical evaluations we could apply? Most made little impact on me, they came across as a little gimmicky, a failed attempt to engage with the taboos, as if just because you are depicting sex in some way, you’re edgy as fuck. You aren’t really, its about how you engage with the topic, anyone can put tits, ass and a cock onto film, canvas, paper, or the walls of public toilets if they really really want to, but this doesn’t suddenly make them artists. In this series, Marina Abramović created something quite hilarious, creating an instructional video depicting bizarre fertility rituals. It had a light-hearted tone, and even though it had ample nudity, I would not have deemed it erotic, though of course this is subjective. The one that sticks in my mind however, was by Matthew Barney, its described in wikipedia as ‘mostly an art film’, which is interesting as the others receive fairly forthright if short descriptions. It provoked a degree of discomfort, from my point of view at least. A man is trussed up to a looming (compared to his painted body) deforester engine, which he is using to masturbate. Its a little mythological, very strange, and somehow hints at taboo, despite the fact there is nothing one could genuinely complain about ethically. But its strangeness was compelling, precisely because it was not easy and comfortable. And it in some way goes to illustrate my thoughts, which is why I mention it here.
However, there are many more subtle and less overbearing examples of what I am trying to describe. I will always love Edvard Munch’s Puberty, it epitomizes vulnerability, without resorting to grotesqueries. And perhaps, when I speak of faults, of the brokenness of skin and gaze, this is really what I am looking for. It is the vulnerability in the other that suddenly makes their various masks penetrable.
|Edvard Munch - Puberty|
Another, more recent painter who’s work exposes the rawness of the human body, then shows it to be beautiful is Lucian Freud.
I'm not heading anywhere specific with all this, just trying to isolate some thoughts around where I want to go with my work. Why the vulnerability of the human body fascinates me so, and how I can decode the language of it. So I am posting some works in progress as promised to one or two individuals, and will post more (as well as the finished versions of these) as time goes on. Hopefully, as once I inhabit a studio space a very kind lad is going to help me to outfit, there will be more work in the offing.
|Oil paint is tasty...very raw beginnings.|
|Paper, its been a while. Its all about the weaver bird, really.|
Posted by Sita Suzanne at 8:11 AM
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Saturday, June 2, 2012
feel free to notify me
if you feel the wet gasping fish-like writhing of my emotions
leave you cold and unmoved.
If my weak flounderings find you wishing you had a bucket of brine
to flip me into.
I exposed the pink of my gills,
and suddenly found myself listening for the carny music
as I sit here like some strange fish-girl.
I don’t wear this form well.
I’ll be standing up now.
Hand me that towel as you leave.
So I can pat dry these last stains of sentiment
before I catch cold.
Don’t be surprised at the sudden transformation.
We all have to grow legs sometime.
I blame myself.
I wished to plunge into your depths
but instead found a shallow pool,
with little more than the odd tadpole
swimming in the algae.
My nose is a little bruised from the impact,
but the concussion is negligible.
And the prognosis is very, very hopeful.
Posted by Sita Suzanne at 12:31 PM
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Monday, March 5, 2012
this is not how I pictured it,
my conquest of you.
I think I got stuck in the bible belt,
the not quite gritty spaces.
I think I wanted the angrier bits.
Maybe just a taste of your shinier, fleshier opulent skin.
This just feels too ordinary.
Show me something extraordinary won't you?
Your angry underbelly where the carnival freaks reside.
I want to roll in worn sheets with you.
I want you to leave me tousled and out of breathe, damp in my own juices.
Instead you deny me, remain clothed and impenetrable.
You welcomed me more when I was just passing through.
For now I am forced to remain polite, to leave you your reserve,
but I'l have you yet, naked and pulsating,
kicking out from under me.
Posted by Sita Suzanne at 12:41 PM