In a human-made era of global social and ecological challenges, when that which we call ‘the environment’ is urban for almost all our planet’s human inhabitants, the artist asks what it means to be human. Kai Lossgott has looked for answers in the places that seem to be the most overlooked due to their familiarity – the ecology of the city, and the household objects we discard. In hunter-gatherer, the minute, jumbled and discarded fragments of urban life suddenly attract attention through slow and careful re-arrangement. Through changing their location and context between street, the transparent pockets of the ‘hunter-gatherer’ bodysuit, and the floors of cultural institutions, these discarded objects, many of which cannot decompose, become temporarily useful in a game about composition.
Since the first industrial revolution, what we have called ‘nature’ now refers to something made by human beings. This is a retro sci-fi about the habits of our ancestors and the potential futures in store for us. The artist is fascinated by the shifting value placed on the same objects over time, in their journey from a supermarket shelf to the chaos of the dump, back to the order of the anthropological museum display. This exhibition speculates that practice of collecting, hoarding and abandoning define the human relationship with ‘things’, and perhaps our identity as a species. As a human being and a consumer, enquiring into the world as an African artist, Lossgott is ultimately concerned with knowledge itself. He wants to know how our inherited world-view may be reshaped when we realise through shifting contexts that we are not looking at the universe, it is looking at us.
hunter-gatherer, an exhibition by Kai Lossgott will be held at Absa Gallery, Absa Towers North, 161 Main Road, Johannesburg from 21 May to 15 June 2017. Artist’s Walkabout: 26 May; 2 & 9 June 2017 (13:00-15:00).