So if you have been keeping up you will be aware that last week I had the opening of my new (joint) exhibition: Anima/Animus. What you will not be aware of is all the other hecticness I have had going on simultaneously. It has been nine days of extreme! Now I don’t want to say it has been nine days of hell because the things that have happened are things of awesomeness! But it’s like when you are eating or drinking something really cold and you get a brainfreeze: well, when you have to deal with so much awesomeness that you don’t have an opportunity to catch your breath it pretty much has the same effect!
Above: Anima (2015) of the Anima-Animus Exhibition
The Saturday and Sunday prior to the exhibition opening were spent transporting the artworks and then installing them in the gallery, The Monday (25th May) was the opening and was extremely well attended which to be honest is an oddity in Durban, that is, not a normal occurrence at all. I am sad to say Durbanites really do not support the arts as is evident in how few galleries we have here. Anyway, so my fellow artist, Bernice, and I give our speeches and the exhibition was officially opened.
Above: swany speech at Anima-Animus Exhibition
As any exhibiting artist will tell you after an opening you are physically as well as emotionally drained and left exhausted. However, did I have time to relax and take a breath? Nope!
The next afternoon after work (my normal 5 to 5, 12 hour shift) I rushed over to the Vega Design campus to give a lecture on the body (un) comfortable to the students there. I was really not up to it, and in fact was dreading it. But I powered through it and had a really awesome afternoon with the students (about 60 of them) there. I could have said no to their lecturer and turned down the opportunity to speak to the students but being an artist is more than just about creating art: it’s also about creating a brand (which is your name) and for me, also about spreading the love of and for art. So yeah, as exhausted as I was I did it and left the campus exhausted but exhilarated!
Wednesday dawned and brought with it my formal graduation evening. It should be noted that this is a year after I had already successfully completed the degree but time moves differently here in Africa, so yes, my graduation. Now these ceremonies, much like time, are very different in Africa. The black African students when stepping on to the stage, having their name and degree read out, being capped by the Dean and having the hood put on, are generally met by ululation and praise-singing from family members in the audience. No polite clapping for them or dignified “hear-hears” or “jolly goods”. I am proud to share with you, dear reader, that this white boy received some praise –singing from a large portion of the members of the audience, this much to the amusement of the university staff and my fellow students. These black members of the audience for some reason took a liking to me and sang my praises! An usher laughingly told me, as I left the stage to receive my certificate: “we call that renta-crowd or family-outsourcing”! So a really great experience and a fond memory that total strangers made the effort to make someone feel special, I was humbled.
Thursday my fellow exhibitor and I were interviewed at the gallery for a newspaper article by journalist Angela Shaw. I was really happy with the article she wrote. It is intelligent and well-constructed because she actually really looked at our work. How many journalists actually do that, I wonder? Or viewers in the gallery, for that matter?
Below: Jungian Archetype: King (2015) swany
An exhibition by artists, Berncie Stott and swany
By Angela Shaw
The joint exhibition by artists, Bernice Stott and swany (Andrew Swanepoel), is centred on two large suspended forms, one made by each artist. Inspired by the paleonlithic Venus of Willendof the large wire frame figures are wrapped in white plaster of paris bandages that are splattered with ochre mud and are burnt black in parts. This became the defining palette for the collaboration – black, white and gold earth tones.
Bernice Stott and swany met in 2014 and agreed to collaborate on a body of work that would re-imagine Jungian feminine and masculine archetypes. Over seven months the two worked separately on their archetypes, meeting regularly to compare and interact. swany describes it as a “push-pull, push-pull” process.
Says Stott: “Anima and Animus can be explained as the personification of the masculine nature of a woman’s unconscious and the feminine nature of a man’s. This contra-sexual self is in all of us, and usually remains unconscious
We thought it would be fun to invert our art pursuits using Jung’s theories of archetypes to do it. Andy would look at his feminine inner self and I would look at my masculine inner self.”
The exhibition is arranged symmetrically around the Venus pieces with
each artist using four Jungian archetypes to create sets of two-dimensional and three-dimensional pieces. For Stott, the female artist, the archetypes are The Queen, Wise-woman, Warrior and Lover. For swany, the male artist; The King, Wise-man, Warrior, Lover.
Unintentionally the artist’s mediums and methodologies invert gender stereotypes with swany working on an industrial embroidery machine and also hand stitching his two-dimensional pieces. Rayon and copper lurex thread are stitched into demin ground to create soft, textural, tonal pieces – and ask the question what is man’s work, when embroidery is perceived to be women’s craft. This process of making allowed swany to “explore the feminine in myself” and suggests his next body of work “Subverting the Stitch”.
Stott, on the other hand, constructed robust sculptures cut from marine ply and assembled with thread bar and bolts. She laughs that she has small hands, lacks strength and the work was “extremely difficult and laborious”, but this was her response to the feminine archetypes nonetheless. Her two-dimensional pieces are large figures in ochre with a single bold outline, her nod to the work of naïve artist Dorothy Iannone.
swany grappled with how to present these feminine and masculine forces without being illustrative. His sculptures are masks, wire frames wrapped in bandages and plaster of paris – “the archetypes are not actually images so how do you present these to an audience – what does it feel like while creating, organically bending wire, applying bandage and plaster? What are the forms that emerge and what does it feel like to craft?”
Anima-Animus is at artSpace Gallery 25 May – 13 June 2015
3 Millar Road, Durban, South Africa, Tel: 031-312 0793
Gallery Hours: Mon – Fri 9h00-17h00 Sat and Pub Hols
There is an artists’ walkabout on 6 June at 11.00
Friday I was to be interviewed live on a radio arts programme but something happened and it didn’t happen so I spent 3 hours sitting around for nothing. It has been rescheduled for this Friday. Saturday I worked in the factory feeling like I had a huuuge hangover from sheer exhaustion! Sunday arrived, the proverbial day of rest, but no rest for me. Up at 4.30 am I rushed through to the Durban city SABC TV offices to be interviewed live on our national television morning breakfast show appropriately called Morning Live.
Above: At SABC TV.
Below: The cameras on me! There I am on the top monitor.
How hectic is that?!!! Me on TV, speaking about art I made, for an exhibition displaying my art!! You see? Awesomness!!! Brainfreeze!!
PS: Here are links to the interview. Be kind when viewing them, take in to account how super, super nervous I was!