'Outpost ll' at the NSA
by Janine Petzer
A curious thing about art is how susceptible it is to change. Different dates, situations, or places can draw out nuances unthought of before. The enticing thing about "Outpost II", as a group exhibition, is that new and interesting ideas are unlocked through the conversations that unravel between the artworks. Associations are inevitably formed between works: it is, however, when these links are formed with a certain sensitivity and intelligence that an exhibition has the ability to captivate the viewer.
Clive Hardwick's Severance is a display of two light boxes of his scarred torso and three large digital prints of leaves, which start to read as fragile and bruised themselves, their veins seeming to take on the feeling of 'scar'. These images and ideas are invariably imposed on the indefinable animal part in Carol Gainer's video entitled Sleeping. The distorted breathing from this video in turn filters down to Andries Botha's work in the Multi-media room below. Shrouded in darkness, the rasping breath is mimicked by a flashing light and accompanying whirring sound. The rows of slightly lit uniform cement houses lying beneath an industrial structure set up an eerie atmosphere further perpetuated by the animal breath upstairs.
It is difficult to forget these associations as one approaches Langa Magwa's large hide-covered books. Not only is the skin a reminder of Gainer and Hardwick's works, but also the figure branded into one of the books is a continuation of previous conversations, and so the links and associations continue to multiply as each new work is viewed.
The relationship between outpost and centre is a strange thing; they seem to be two very different places yet they are inextricably bound. One cannot exist without the other. In Greg Streak's sound installation he places microphones in various places within the gallery, in doing so he creates a centre, a place where all conversation comes together, including comments on other works. Yet Thando Mama's video of himself speaking, but emitting little or no sound remains (Un)hea(r)d. His voice excluded.
When dealing with the idea of 'outpost' one has to consider the degree of exclusion that comes hand in hand with it. When the exhibition travels to Stellenbosch later this year, the large works of Isabella Quaottrocchi will be presented instead of the smaller substitutes available to us at the exhibition here at the NSA Gallery. So maybe it is appropriate that we, as Durbanites, do not get to view the exhibition in its entirety.
'Outpost ll' is no longer at the NSA but can be seen at the University of Stellenbosch Gallery from October 10.
Janine Petzer is a Fourth Year Student studying Fine Art at the Durban Institute of Technology