Globally and nationally, publics are repeatedly confronted with narratives that suggest that environmental, social and economic catastrophe is inevitable. Prophets of doom seem to rule the public imagination.
It is with this in mind that pre-eminent South African, African and European artists
were invited to participate in this exhibition and to work through apocalypticism to confront the inevitability of this conclusion and to think beyond it to forms of survival, regeneration and rebirth. How, the range of artworks asks, can we represent and contend with fatalism?
Participating artists include Jane Alexander, Willem Boshoff, Steven Cohen, Marianne Halter & Mario Marchisella, Michael MacGarry, Volker März, Jacki McInnes, Jyoti Mistry, Mohau Modisakeng, Moffat Takadiwa, and Diane Victor.
The exhibition challenges over-used imagery, metaphors and stereotypes such as stationary cars on congested highways, vehicles lying on their roofs dripping the last valuable drops of fuel, the barricaded family … It also contests the oddly consoling idea of an absolute conclusion.
The exhibition also engages with the particularities of South African history and the present. Our nation has been marked by a succession of political theologies. Various groups have traded in the threat of devastation and ‘prophets’ have proclaimed the prospect of our imminent deliverance. Religious ideas have been constantly translated into social and political registers. In some respects, though, South Africa is typical rather than unique. Our history of competing – often hysterical – beliefs that our nation is about to be destroyed or redeemed presents the opportunity to look at other parts of the world, where similar dynamics are proliferating.
This powerful and thought provoking exhibition is curated by Jacki McInnes, Professor Jyoti Mistry and Professor Michael Titlestad. McInnes is a visual artist who explores imagined utopias and dystopias across historical and geo-political contexts. Mistry, a film scholar from the Wits School of Arts Film and Television Division is an expert on the recurrent cinematic preoccupation with ‘disaster films’. Titlestad of the Wits School of Literature, Language and Media is a literary scholar concerned with End Times texts.
Exhibition opening event: Tuesday 15 March 2016, 18h00 for 18h30
Exhibition Dates: 16 March to 29 May, 2016
Wits Art Museum
Address: University Corner, Corner Bertha (extension of Jan Smuts Avenue) and Jorissen Streets, Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
Opening hours: Wednesdays to Sundays 10h00 – 16h00.
Tel (Mon – Fri): 011 717 1365 Tel (Sat – Sun): 011 717 1358.
For additional information contact Lesley.Cohen@wits.ac.za 011 717 1357.