From June 7 to July 14, 2018, Gallery Momo, Cape Town will present Transmissions, a group exhibition featuring Stephané E. Conradie, Quaid Heneke, Jabu Nadia Newman, Roberta Rich, Claire Meekel, Riley Pam-Grant, and Abi Meekel.
Here, five young local artists challenge the conventions of traditional video art. A (drag) queen’s mirror is a photo booth selfie. A cityscape is transported into the gallery via wormhole in the middle of the room. A gif is encased in an ornate, kitsch-baroque frame. The result is a channel-surfing of sorts through eclectic worlds, each of them subverting traditions of cinematic form, as well as daring to ask questions about identity and intimacy, location and dislocation, reception and transmission.
Stephané E. Conradie’s bricolage assemblages, which explore the relationship between South Africa’s material culture and its sociopolitical undertones, becomes frames for gifs. It may seem, at first glance, paradoxical pairing, as the unique, hyper-ornamented artwork juxtaposes against the gif’s ubiquity. Though Conradie’s work is fascinated with the quotidian; thus commonplace domestic objects meet their technological counterparts.
Quaid Heneke experiments with digital collage, layering performance art and home video, in and out of the artist’s drag persona, Queezy. FASHFILM5 is at once a theatrical piece and its own behind-the-scenes footage. This DIY-style film lays bare the intimate moments in which identity, sexuality, and self-expression are negotiated and reconfigured. Accompanied by the video is its costuming. Garments designed and fabricated by the artist lay in piles on the floor, or are suspended mid-air, creating a space both familiar and surreal, where video’s unique ability to archive moments becomes embodied in real space.
In Monument, Claire Meekel, Riley Pam-Grant, and Abi Meekel challenge the audience to view film in unconventional ways. A perspex tube, suspended in the middle of the room, distorts the projected film to the point where identifiable visuals and narrative are obscured, highlighting the surprisingly fine lines between the familiar and the abstract. The objectification of the film through the tube, which is centered in the room, highlights the physicality of film. The bed below the tube acts as a tool to experience the “physicality of film” to a heightened level, as the medium asks viewers to approach the installation with a sense of vulnerability.
Jabu Nadia Newman explores the depth and complexity of femme relationships against the background of a mundane, heteronormative neighborhood, where layered identities are prosecuted and undervalued. Shot, written, and narrated by Newman in her hometown of Plumstead, untitled:friends reads like a personal visual diary, inviting the viewer into the filmmaker’s personal world of kinship, intimacy, and becoming. As the characters unravel from their clothes, a relationship unfolds, at times gentle and erotic while brutally honesty at others, though always with genuine care.
Roberta Rich occupies sites that represent her identity and its intricate nuances. M/other Land follows the artist as she reclaims sites of forced removal and displacement, Soweto youth uprisings and the Freedom Charter, the now empty mantle where Cecil Rhodes’ memorial once sat, and mountains where Khoi and San ancestors traversed, among other places of cultural significance. Remembering, acknowledging, and centering brown and black histories become vital methodologies towards the project of decolonising spaces and reflect the rich cultural fabric of contemporary identities.
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