'Prints and Editions' at Whatiftheworld
by Lauren von Gogh
Being a resident Joburger, this was my first venture to Whatiftheworld Gallery (apart from the make-shift space at the Joburg Art Fair). I was welcomed off a very wet, grungy Woodstock road into the gallery by a happy Jack Russell and pleasant gallery assistant. My preconceived perception of the gallery as the trendy new 'it' space was not to be altered.
The 'Prints and Editions' exhibition features work by a variety of young artists and collaborative groups. The overall impression of the show is that it is neatly curated with well-presented works that evoke a feeling of playful cheekiness packaged for a young, newly successful audience.
Neon, bold primaries and other bright colours engulf you as you enter the gallery. The majority of wall space is shared by Avant Car Guard and Julia Rosa Clark. They are interrupted by Cameron Platter's Halleluja series and Dan Halter's All of a Sardine in the front part of the gallery. Halter's work adds a contemplative aspect to the show. His use of Zimbabwean subject matter is playfully sinister, creating a tongue-in-cheek look at pressing current affairs. The colonial-type fishing trophy aesthetic is used to create All of a Sardine, which comes in an edition of five. Halter's wooden base does not however, boast a monstrous catch but displays a two centimetre-long Kapenta (Lake Tanganyika sardine) which is barely noticeable at first glance. Information from the gallery suggests that the Kapenta, which was introduced to Lake Kariba in the 60s, is one of the few food sources left in Zimbabwe today.
Julia Rosa Clark's Modernist Poster Series (Hypocrite's Lament) takes up a large area of wall space. The posters complement each other, forming a kind of ambiguous yet nostalgic narrative across the wall with phrases such as 'strange dust lands on your hands and on your face', 'and I live by the river', 'boom', 'forget', 'we really fucked it up'. These snippets of narrative are juxtaposed against cut-outs of horses, jellyfish, rainbows, clouds, tears, skulls and various other pop-type imagery on mostly black backgrounds. This series stands out from her other pieces on the show such as Spew, Fever Jubilee (French Curves) and Bring It On (Get Nasty Remix). It could perhaps just be that the posters work really well together on their own wall, whereas her other work blends into the rest of the exhibition. These posters are, as the exhibition title suggests, all editions of 15.
Wedged in amongst the Avant Car Guard- and Clark-fuelled show one will most likely find some of the other artists' work intriguing, or at least entertaining. Georgina Gratrix's two untitled monotype prints have an eerie air about them. The poignant eyes and mouths of the women in these prints invite you to hang around in front of the images for some time, slowly repelling you the more you watch them. They have a strange inviting yet unwelcoming presence about them.
Doing It For Daddy present In The Galleries, a series of three retro black-and-white prints on Fabriano. The subject matter originates from Artlook magazine from the 70s, referencing the contemporary art market of the time. One of the prints is an advert from the Goodman Gallery in the 70s, stating that 'Art is swinging at the Goodman Gallery'. The eight people in the shot pose with raised arms, hands on hips, leaning against plinths and all looking extremely happy to be a part of the swinging times. Doing It For Daddy's quirky series is finished off with a white t-shirt with simple black lettering stating 'How I learnt to stop worrying and love Modernism again', which comes as an edition of 100.
This exhibition has a lot to offer from the 15 artists/collaborations on show, illustrating innovative ways of re-imagining the idea of prints and editions. There is evidently more emphasis placed on certain contributors than others, but pleasant surprises assist in creating a rather jovial and fulfilling show.
Lauren von Gogh is a soon-to-be Wits University Fine Art graduate trying to figure out what to do next
Opens: June 5
Closes: June 28
Whatiftheworld / Gallery
1st Floor Albert Hall, 208 Albert Road, Woodstock
Tel: (021) 448 1438
Hours: Tue - Fri 10am - 4pm, Sat 10am - 3pm