Third and Fourth level Visual Arts and Multimedia Student Exhibition from the Department of Art History, Visual Arts & Musicology at Unisa: The focus of the UNISA Visual Arts Department is to encourage cultural diversity and stimulate artworks that are rich in variety of approaches that signal commencement of individualisation. This aspect intensifies the students to reach their senior levels of art education. Visual experimentations through their private stories, their personal interests, and their individual voices are encouraged and amplified in their artworks. The works presented at this year’s exhibition range from reflections on socio-economic systems to cognitive matters like dissonance and human interactions with technology. Moreover, the viewer will experience works that are addressing issues of post-humanism, global and local economies and installations evoking a spirit of the past.
Louise Pretorius in her body of work titled “Techno-Stress Inhabits” looks at the ‘always on’ generation and questions whether we have truly adapted to technology, or is our psychological landscape being compromised in trying to adjust to it. As with the advent of technology, human beings are able to complete more tasks in one day than ever before in history, her work signifies not only our psyche, but also the unseen, endured, relationship with techno-stress.
Kirsty Fletcher in her installation explores the past through re-remembering her idyllic memories of South Africa during the apartheid era whilst researching the discriminatory laws that were passed for her benefit as a 'white' person. By creating a staging ground of the washing line, white picket fence and artificial grass, an environment is created where memories are contrasted against laws, and a process of re-remembering and re-contextualising can occur.
Another interesting sculpture installation by Sarah Boshoff attempts to reflect mutual influences between science and art. Boshoff places the basis of her installation as an attempt to draw attention to Bipolar Disorder and to gain a better understanding of this condition. The work tries to offer some parallels between mental illnesses and neural miscommunication, distilling the artists’ emotions through the lens of science. The installation consists of a number of wire sculptures representing neurons.
“INside/OUTside/Onsite” is an installation presentation through animation and video, and reveals Alicia Hindson’s concern over the environment. The video was created with the aim to alert viewers to the effects of radiation caused by uranium deposits in the many mine dumps in and around Johannesburg. Alicia travelled to gold mining sites that stretch over 80 kilometres, from the East Rand to the Far West Rand, to research the effects of radiation in the mine dumps sand on the environment and the people still living there.
Marco Versfeld in his articulation of “Moerland”, a place of fears waiting to be confronted, uses the medium of projection to symbolise one’s perceptions or beliefs that become the reality that we project unto the world. The fall of Moerland by fire was Marco’s way of symbolising the courage to alter one’s own worldview in order to see a new one.
“Trace memories of JAG” is an installation piece by Pauline Borton, founded in a cross-disciplinary approach to understanding the vehicles behind real/actual spaces and imagined spaces and the role that this plays in understanding architectural environments. Borton has sought to develop her own understanding of Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG) as a ‘safe’ space for her within the greater city. This is based on the study of phenomenology which focuses on the subconscious and sensory reactions people have to space.
Henry Moyo’s “Phephelaphi (Where to now)”, deals with economic hardships which forced him into exile and the new challenges in South Africa where he is currently residing. As a migrant he has not been spared from experiencing the problems which are experienced by other African migrants. These are encounters with xenophobia and trying to make both ends meet financially and psychologically. His work takes the form of a video installation and uses decommissioned Zimbabwean bank notes.
“Interconnected and Interdependent” is an installation piece by Janice Wyndham-Quin, and she uses hand cut-out paper to make spiral shapes suspended from the gallery ceiling. Wyndham-Quin explains that everything on earth is interconnected and interdependent. The spirals are a visual metaphor for these interconnections and interdependencies. Almost everything has visual spirals, from plants, animals, shells, the oceans, fish, galaxies and humans, etc. The DNA helix is also a spiral, and this is at the core of everything, and the interconnections and interdependencies to the fore. The objective is for the realisation that everything is one big living organism and therefore to consider the living “non-humans” and all around us.
Lastly, the exhibition also features the work of Tony Wintour, titled “Pipe dream”. Pipe Dream is a reflection on the way in which systems and networks affect our daily lives. We are trapped in networks from which there is no escape – be they social, religious or political, whether it be the daily rat race or socially acceptable behaviour. Many networks arise spontaneously with no top down designer or controller. A myriad of connections strengthen the network and to think that we can operate outside of the system is but a pipe dream.