The Same Space Three Times
Goodman Gallery Cape Town is pleased to present The Same Space Three Times, a group exhibition that considers the presence of cycles in our natural and constructed environment.
The Same Space Three Times borrows its title from a sculpture by Gerhard Marx. Appearing as an enclosed object, the work forms part of “a series of sculptural and propositional cartographies that engages physical depictions of space,” according to the artist. The work’s structure creates a sort of optical illusion in which three near-identical overlapping viewpoints can be seen from different angles. The addition of collaged map fragments, taken from standard educational world atlases, prompts a reconsideration of our perspective on cartographic depictions of the planet. By creating this view, Marx offers us a “more complicated spatial experience of overlap, intersection, simultaneity, relationality and overlay.”
Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum’s drawings Tangle, She is Heavy and Cuddle feature the recurring figure of a character named Asme. Originating in an early animation by the artist, Asme like the name implies, both resembles but is apart from its creator. Around the same time as this character came to life, Sunstrum encountered a number of Canada geese at a pond near where she lived and began incorporating their forms into her work. The uniformity of the birds and the inability to differentiate between their genders appealed to Sunstrum. Like the geese, Asme began to multiply in her form, even going so far as to mimic their gestures, blurring the line between human and animal form. “Asme is not a unique thing,” says Sunstrum, “she can communicate across time and space as a way of referencing this idea of history and how I imagine we can re-meet ourselves at different points.”
In Grada Kilomba’s triptych from her series ‘Heroines, Birds and Monsters’, a similar repetitive motif is at play. For these images, Kilomba drew on the character of the Sphinx from the second film in her Illusions trilogy, which retells the Greek myth of Oedipus. In the films, Kilomba poses the question: “What if history has not been told properly? And what if our history is haunted by cyclical violence precisely because it has not been buried properly? ”The triptych depicts the moment in the Greek myth when the protagonist encounters the Sphinx. In the tale, the Sphinx was placed by the gods at the gates of the city, because something terrible had happened in the past. The sphinx would pose a riddle to anyone who would enter or leave the city and would devour anyone who could not give the correct answer to her question. In that manner, the sphinx represents how one cannot escape their own history.
Applying this notion to his material references, Remy Jungerman finds connections between various artistic traditions throughout history. Specifically, Jungerman explores the intersection of pattern and symbol in Surinamese Maroon culture, the larger African Diaspora, and 20th Century “Modernism.” In bringing seemingly disparate visual languages into conversation, Jungerman’s work challenges the established art historical canon.
For Nicholas Hlobo, the image of the work is often sketched and pierced directly onto the canvas. By working directly on the canvas, there is a sense of immediacy and freedom that allows the work to reveal itself more slowly and more fluidly. The act of piercing and stitching reflects on healing processes necessary within the South African context, he explains; “There is a sense of violence in mark-making. By making any mark you’re disturbing the balance that is already there and beginning to create chaos,” elaborating; “As South Africans, we are constantly looking at ourselves. The piercing and stitching do the same as the work of a surgeon, looking within so that you can begin to remove ailments and attempting to propose a process of healing.”
Cycles appear in William Kentridge’s work through the symbolic presence of the tree. Rendered in Indian ink on the pages of old encyclopedias, Kentridge’s drawings attempt to capture the forms of trees indigenous to the area around Johannesburg. One reading of this association for Kentridge relates to a childhood memory of the trees at the bottom of his family garden, which represented for his younger self the place where his father went to when he departed for work each morning.
Reflecting on the recurring presence of these objects in his work, Kentridge told Artnet, “It is about allowing things to take their shape—I’m not quite sure why all these trees are being drawn. In one sense, they’re long-term self-portraits. I read somewhere a description of death that said we all grow our tree of death inside us. It starts growing when we’re born, and we have to hope that we’ll live long enough for this tree to be a great, beautiful, strong tree before it comes through us.”
The Same Space Three Times runs at Goodman Gallery Cape Town until 26 January 2022.
December 13, 2021
December 13, 2021