Portret van 'n jong man # 10 (White Masks Series)

I’m very honoured to have been invited to take part in the Place/Displace exhibition at UJ Art Gallery. Place/Displace is a group exhibition that addresses issues of relationship with a country of origin, land concerns, ownership, identity, new colonial imperialism, xenophobia, displacement, refugees, utopia and dystopia within rapidly changing social constructs.

The show, incorporating works by South African artists and Greek artists residing in South Africa, forms part of a weeklong festive period culminating in a prestigious long table dinner and art auction with works by donating artists on Saturday 27 October 2012. Acclaimed South African artists William Kentridge, Diane Victor, Angus Taylor, Georgie Papageorge and Penny Siopis amongst others, have shown their support by donating works for the auction.

Some of the exhibiting artists include Robert Hamblin, Pat Mautloa, Stephan Erasmus Alexandra Ross, Ann-Marie Tully, Karin Preller, Belinda Leontsinis, Erika Hibbert, Georgia Papageorge, Gordon Froud, Happy Dhlame, Michelle Nigrini, Penny Siopis and Yannis Generalis.

The show also includes this great work by my dear friend Robert Hamblin (with yours truly as model). This current body of work is starting to explore  the performance of the anonymity physicality of gender archetypes.

Under Patriarchy Robert Hamblin

Hamblin’s previous body of work was a collaboration with transwomen in Cape Town. In South Africa identities are still being negotiated – not just on a macro level but also in a micro level. It is here on the micro level, the everyday existence where people grapple with being, that Robert Hamblin’s work comes into play.

Structures and institutions of oppression may have been officially dismantled, but on an everyday level many individuals are still judged and persecuted by majority bias and opinion often based on outdated or inherited customs and traditions. In an unequal society, gender is a system of power. The toll of forcing gender stereotypes onto people has been documented in the media and chronicles some of the most horrific incidences of physical violence perpetrated against individuals.

In this context Robert Hamblin’s work with trans-communities in the Cape Town area becomes a remarkable celebration. There is always cognisance of the violence that is part of the fabric of their daily lives – as statistics and can prove – but in front of Robert’s lens each person can come into being without recompense. The studio becomes more than a stage, but rather a space that allows for an exuberant celebration of being. The lens captures the temporal moments of becoming in a space that is momentarily devoid of bias, hate and violence – a celebration of being able to be oneself.

The Place/Displace exhibition will be opened by Advocate George Bizos SC on 22 October at 18:30.

For more information contact the UJ Art Gallery at 011 559 2099 or gallery@uj.ac.za or the George Bizos Saheti Scholarship and Bursary Fund at sam@salamander.co.za 082 374 8124.

RELATED LINKS: White Masks Series