Mark Hipper's Inquisitors
by Sue Williamson
The Inquisitors is the title of the latest installation by Mark Hipper, on for a short run at the João Ferreira Gallery. Through the white walls of the gallery protrude roots, animal appendages, prehensile outgrowths, body invaders. If one turns out the lights and stands still, will all of the steely grey tentacles suddenly come to life again and continue inexorably pushing and thrashing through the walls until the viewer is being touched and physically investigated on all sides by the blunt tipped extensions? The execution of the work is immaculate, each root appears to have pushed its way straight through the wall, and thus the illusion is uncomfortably convincing.
One is reminded too of Paul Stopforth's The Interrogators, the triptych of similar name in the permanent collection of the SANG which pictures the faces of the three security policemen responsible for the death of Steve Biko. Like Stopforth, Hipper has chosen graphite rubbed into the surface and polished to the dull gleam of guns in which to execute his work. Hipper's The Inquisitors could almost be an abstract rendition of Stopforth's piece, yet in its non-specificity, the new installation is open to a far wider range of interpretations.
'Disquieting' is a word that could be used to describe almost all of Mark Hipper's work. Or liminal. Nothing in his work is quite what it seems, and there is much which resists an exact interpretation. A viewing audience is constantly being engaged in a disturbing dialogue, one which is heightened by the way the artist suddenly switches from one medium to another, from an apparently straightforward charcoal drawing to a suggestive watercolour to a carved body mask to this new installation. It is a dialogue in which it is worth engaging.
Opens: January 6
Closes: January 18
João Ferreira Gallery, 80 Hout Street, Cape Town
Tel: 021 423 5403 or 082 490 2977
Fax: 021 423 2136
Hours: Tue - Fri 10am - 6pm, Sat 10am - 2pm