As my Anima-Animus exhibition draws to a close I am preparing frantically for my next one (I told you this year was a hectic one!). It will be a small solo (8 works) called: Prick! Subverting the Stitch. It will be a mixture of old and new works all involving embroidery and stitching. And as always I am really excited about it, planning and creating and then exhibiting is what I live for. I am relentless; I move on from one project to the next but it keeps me focused because at my heart I am a dreamer.
Just a quick update: I was interviewed on national radio (SA FM) on Friday night (05/06/2015) and it went really well, thank goodness. In addition I was also interviewed for the Daily News (our regional newspaper) and an awesome article appeared in the paper this past Tuesday. On Saturday I conducted a walkabout with my fellow artist, Bernice Stott. It was well-attended and received which is always gratifying. I share this with you in way of highlighting how much work goes into trying to establish oneself as an artist.
Above: Anima – swany (2015)
It is about creating a brand; mine being my artist persona: swany (all lowercase letters). Now swany is to me what Superman is to Clark Kent or Batman is to Bruce Wayne. swany will take the risks, and put himself out there, which mild-mannered Andrew Swanepoel will not. An important part of establishing a brand is maintaining an internet presence. This is a reality no matter how much I detest how social media has (ironically) isolated us rather than brought us together. The owner of the gallery where I am exhibiting asked why not Facebook (as have a number of other people)? I am not going to go into all the reasons why I am not on Facebook here as there are a couple of posts and even a poem I wrote on the subject on this site (check them out if you are really interested). Suffice to say that Facebook is a dated and antiquated social media site (decidedly middle-aged and mundane, not that I am above the afore-mentioned I just choose not to) and as an artist it is vital that I stay contemporary and regularly re-invent myself.
Twitter (although under threat from sites such as Snapchat) is “right here, right now” social media. The developments since the beginning of the so-called Arab Spring in 2009 have been proof of this. In 2009 the Iranian regime thought it could calm an increasingly rebellious populace by shutting down traditional media, but that was before the shooting of a 26-year-old female protester was captured on video, uploaded, and viewed by millions. At the height of the uproar, more than 221,000 Iranian tweets were sent in just one hour. This spread to Tunisia and Egypt; across the Middle East and throughout the horn of Africa, it caused an unprecedented wave of civil disobedience, public demonstrations, and strikes across the region. Social media become the new weapon of democracy. Authorities tried to pull the plug on the Internet, but repression couldn’t keep up with the pace of technology as Google and Twitter deployed means to keep the Egyptian protestors’ voices alive. Twitter introduced a new “voice-to-Twitter” service that allowed users to post by merely calling a dedicated phone number. And thanks to Google Translate, the messages from the teeming streets of Cairo soon became understandable across the planet. Twitter and social media may not have been the spark that caused the fire, but they most definitely provided the oxygen which enabled it to not only grow but to also spread.
Now my uses of Twitter are nothing as noble and life-changing as overthrowing tyranny. I use it, as I mentioned, to maintain a presence in the social media, an artist’s presence. It is also an awesome place to make contact with other artists, with galleries and foundations. But as I also mentioned it allows me to keep informed with the contemporary, the “now”! The young use Twitter, the Avant-garde, the rebellious, so I am informed almost immediately about global social movements and trends: black lives matter, free the nipple, animal rights, Mexican and US protests etc. etc.
My art normally deals with gender issues and I have also long been a supporter of feminist issues, and Twitter gives me access to this movement and its voice at a grassroots level. Naturally therefore I am in contact with a lot of young women. They want to change the world! Young guys, however, just want to post pics of their penises…well, old guys too but not this one. So yes, I tend to rather follow the feminists because we share similar interests and are not really into seeing men’s dicks.True, some may have uneducated opinions even misguided ones, and some may mistake being open about their sexual exploits and their physiology as being feminist. Some may even want to burn everything down in an effort to destroy patriarchy but at least they care, at least they give a damn! When was the last time any of you felt that strongly about anything and when was the last time you actually did anything to make a difference?
You see, being on Twitter is kind of like being in a vast and strange multi-nation city. The chances of you knowing anyone are slim, you rarely make eye-contact with people, now and then you may share a smile or a glare but you are basically on your own, alone in a huuuuuge mass of people, alone but not alone, just how a social-introvert likes it. The bibliophile (nothing freaky – it means a lover of books) in me also enjoys the fact that one is limited to 140 letters; this forces one to write haiku-like and to keep to the point. M blah-blah-blah!
To be honest my Twitter site, swany@swanyart, is really only a pointer to here, this site. I put a selfie on there now and then after a run or when I am bored, sitting in the dark during one of our many, many, many powercuts we have out my way. If I’m working on an art piece I will download a picture, I put on quotes that I like and sometimes share movies and books I have enjoyed. All in all pretty innocuous stuff but I also put links to my latest updates on this site, www.swanyart.com or www.artofswany.com.
So yeah, putting the life of an artist out there so that (if you are interested) you can see just how the artworks I create are inspired, created and presented; the visual diary, if you will, of an artist.