10-19 November 2022
Simon Gush
Welcome to Frontier Country

STEVENSON and diez are pleased to present Welcome to Frontier Country by Simon Gush. The artist’s trilogy of documentary films use a neo-Marxist approach to unravel the issue of land in South Africa - spanning the 20th century laws behind dispossession to current debates around restitution. Focalised through the experiences of the artist’s ancestor and his immediate community in the Eastern Cape province, the works offer a unique perspective of the entanglement between the personal and political. Gush has written:

This project started in 2016 as a simple idea for a short film based on an anecdote about my ancestor, Richard Gush. On arriving in Salem, South Africa, he deliberately built a church before building a house for his family – the act of work a way to claim his space in a new land. The project grew, and the turning point in my research came when I discovered that this church and the land around Salem were part of a controversial land claim making its way through the courts and still awaiting its final conclusion. The legal aspect of this land claim forms the basis of Land is in the Air, the first of three films on exhibition.
At this point the relationship between land and work became central to my project. A quick glance at the election posters earlier this year would have revealed that these are, separately, some of the most important issues facing South Africa. What I am interested in, however, is how historically and in the present day land and work are entangled; how the dispossession of land was linked to the creation of a workforce for the colony and, as I discovered after spending time with the community on the restituted farms, how work still affects and structures the processes of return.

Welcome to Frontier Country was first shown at Stevenson in Cape Town in 2019. The interviews informing the films were conducted in collaboration with journalist Niren Tolsi, with the musical score composed by Healer Oran. This screening of Gush’s research project coincides with 2022 edition of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.

The exhibition opens at diez on Thursday 10 November, 6 to 8pm. A conversation between the artist and Vivian Ziherl takes place at 6pm as part of the opening.