"[W]e know what we struggle against...But we don't know who we ourselves are..."
"I don't express myself in my paintings. I express my not-self."
Brodie/Stevenson presents Self/Not-self, a two-part curated exhibition that explores modes of self-representation across a range of contemporary art practices.
Bearing in mind critical debates about the symbolic violence that often accompanies attempts to speak on behalf of others, this exhibition asks questions around what it means to 'speak for oneself' in our times.
The exhibition considers concepts of self-portraiture and the role of the artist/author. While it is undoubtedly reductive to interpret all work as autobiographical, the significance of how artists 'write themselves into' their work is fundamental to contemporary art practice. This 'writing in' may occur in various ways including performance, the gestural mark, the trace, the alter-ego, autobiography (both real and fictitious), confession and absence. The two parts of this exhibition focus on two central modes.
The first exhibition (19 February - 21 March) explores direct means of self-representation, looking at diverse works that utilise an embodied version of 'writing in'. Aspects of this approach include the present body, corporeal traces and other markers of presence, and the self as subject, artist or protagonist. While embodied self-representation possesses an immediacy that speaks of individual agency, such declarations are also haunted by the potential that these bodies may be (symbolically) 'owned' by their viewers. Embodied representation is at once empowering and threatening.
Artists on the first show include Serge Alain Nitegeka, Pieter Hugo, Lunga Kama, Anton Kannemeyer, Nandipha Mntambo, Zanele Muholi, Tracy Payne, Berni Searle and Lerato Shadi.
The second exhibition (26 March - 25 April) looks at indirect or 'absent' self-representational approaches, where strategies of surrogacy, projection and alternative personae are employed. Aspects of this approach include the object as stand-in for the self, self as alter-ego, self as artwork, as another's body, and as text. These approaches contain an inherent sense of remove, and allow for a mode of autobiography through a third-person or object. In their 'looking outwards' to the world, these artists offer a challenge to the very idea of a coherent or contained self.
Artists on the second show include Avant Car Guard, Conrad Botes, Wim Botha, Reshma Chhiba, Simon Gush, Nicholas Hlobo, Lawrence Lemaoana, Michael MacGarry, Richard Penn, Athi-Patra Ruga, Wilhelm Saayman, Penny Siopis and Sober and Lonely.
Together, this pair of exhibitions offers an extended exploration of the productive tension that exists between various modes of self-representation, and the implications of such practice within larger debates around representation.
The gallery is open from Tuesday to Friday, 10:30am to 5:30pm, and Saturday from 9:30am to 3pm.Generous sponsorship provided by:
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