Cameron Platter at Whatiftheworld / GalleryBy Leigh-Anne Niehaus
01 December - 28 January. 0 Comment(s)
'Fucking Hell' marks the genesis of an extravagant, if not insanely laborious visual journey. The five new large-scale drawings featured on this exhibition are the first of Cameron Platter’s ten-year Apocalypse series, which will total 100 drawings on completion. Clearly Platter does not suffer from commitment issues. The drawings are adaptations and interpretations of lo-fi advertising signs and flyers collected by the artist. Like his animated video works, which feature recurring characters and symbols in bizarre and often sordid narratives, Platter’s drawings delight in the absurdity of the real and fuse seamlessly with his fatalistic critique of a very specific time and place. Gluttonous consumerism, mass over-indulgence in sex and meat, political looting and religious spin number amongst the illustrated utterances in his dense, claustrophobic pencil drawn compositions.
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In It’s about you (2011) political slogans from Inkatha Freedom Party election posters, phrases taken from roadside fliers promising medical cures, and religious and self-improvement mottos are presented alongside lightning bolts and commercial logos. A hand points to a central Chicken Licken logo, while yellow-eyed zombie businessmen overcrowd the background. Meaning is flattened; everything is equally absurd. The messaging in Platter’s source material is often pitched at the vulnerable, the hungry, and the sexually uncertain. However, Platter does not profess to be a voice for the disenfranchised; his satire extends to the masses and their immoderate lifestyle choices.
The exhibition includes ten hand-glazed ceramic bottles, each decorated with unique motifs drawn from Platter’s Afro-bling aesthetic. Anti-consumerist in their handmade uniqueness, these objects are the antithesis of the shiny perfection of mass-manufactured products; in particular, they recall the character specific pottery produced at the Evangelical Lutheran Church Arts and Crafts Centre at Rorke’s Drift. The artist has had a longstanding love affair with the handcrafted aesthetic of this education centre, in particular printmaker John Muafangejo.
Platter explicitly appropriates Muafangejo’s linocut style and dense iconography in Summertime, a large drawing almost exclusively rendered in black pencil crayon. Over and above his simplification of form and flattening of perspective, Platter, like Muafangejo and other Rorke’s Drift artists, also alludes to his political and social surrounds. Summertime, which draws its visuals from a gruesome and bloody battle scene, reads like a continuation of Platter’s 2009 drawing, The Battle of Rorke’s Drift at Club Dirty Den, a work in turn based on Muafangejo’s The Battle of Rorke’s Drift (1981).
The crammed composition offers a queer amalgamation of food and conflict references. The various weaponry and armoured vehicles – they include helicopters, tanks, assault weapons and a Zulu shield-spear hybrid – have each been dubbed with names from Chicken Licken dishes. A tank named 'Cyclone Express' fires a large yellow sphere, leaving a trail of dead bodies below; the defeated didn’t stand a chance. Platter’s fatalistic representation of the metaphorical slaughter caused by consumerism is depressing, if not apt.
Leigh-Anne Niehaus is a curator based in Cape Town. She has previously worked for The Trinity Session and Roger Ballen Foundation.