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In the Presence of Absence Exhibition

Absa Gallery exhibits contemporary visual artist, Mandy Johnston’s solo titled In the presence of absence.

The exhibition, In the presence of absence, reflects the governance and negotiation of space while still highlighting current, basic and inherent ideas about the human condition.

Mandy Johnston has used materials and objects to speak about formation and fabrication of value. She makes vivid references to very intimate, personal experiences as well as existential issues ranging from societal to political. 

Absence suggests experience and traces are its subtle cues that reveal this in our environments and points to the existence of something that is no longer present. There are often feelings of loss, nostalgia, or fear associated with absence.

The work consists of materials and objects found by the artist, each telling a story. The materials are used to depict how conditioned people can become due to economic factors, forcing one to raise pertinent questions such as: “Who decides on the boundaries of a country, city or town? And how is value determined?” The depiction of her art is a harsh reality of the poverty experienced in South Africa today.

In the Presence of Absence Exhibition
Re-member. Mandy Johnston. Mono.

A key piece of work is the “Weighting Room, a sculpture of two young boys made entirely of copper wire. Johnston references this piece to a tragic story in which nine boys died in an illegal mining accident in the Northern Cape. The mine shaft was too small for all eleven of the boys to mine simultaneously so they had to take turns waiting in a waiting room. Nine boys died when the shaft collapsed and only the two boys remaining in the “Waiting Room” survived.

“Assisting artists develop their abilities is key driver for us. Contributing to the growth and sustainability of the craft is equally important,” says Dr Paul Bayliss, Absa Art and Museum Curator.

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