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Expanding the range of sensory engagement: A Q&A with Willem Boshoff

CF: The digital exhibition will feature a docu-series that traces your work and process for the Blind Alphabet series. What do you think this will add to the body of work itself, and the way audiences engage with it?
WB: I support documentaries, research papers and other similar academic exercises because many students and others interested in art wish to discover what The Blind Alphabet is about without visiting the work itself. Hopefully, the internet will facilitate more exhibitions of the actual work itself and hopefully, this will bring more blind people to experience the work and share it with the sighted.

UJ Moving Cube online gallery Willem Boshoff
ARTIST Willem Boshoff

CF: The launch of the digital exhibition will also serve as a lead-up to a physical exhibition in the near future. How do you think the combination of digital and physical exhibition platforms can serve to provide a more cohesive or alternative means of engaging with a body of work?
WB: The Blind Alphabet project has never been intended only for Blind people. Ultimately it is for the enjoyment as well as understanding of both the blind and the sighted. Interaction between blind and sighted is central to the work. Although an alternative, digital version might exclude blind participation it nevertheless invites a more in-depth study of the work as an historical reality and perhaps a more profound appreciation of the work.

UJ Moving Cube online gallery Willem Boshoff
Willem Boshoff, B7-Barbated

CF: Language, and the written and printed word are central to your practice. What is it about words that hold your attention, and what is the relationship between language and sculpture for you?
WB: I can spend the rest of my life answering this question. As an etymologist I have one answer, but as a linguist and philologist I might have another. As a poet my answer will be vague, perhaps endearing or offensive, and as a philosopher I might consider words to be the reason why man differs from all other animals. Perhaps words, taken too far, give us the idea of a deity or deities and ultimately of a god in whom we can believe. Which words are mistaken and which not? Your question tends to drown me in a very deep sea of doubt in the love of words. It is impossible to run away from words, and yet if we don’t, we don’t get to learn about things as they are.
     “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) 

UJ Moving Cube online gallery Willem Boshoff
Willem Boshoff, B6-Banderole

CF: Similarly, much of your work grapples with and challenges access, convention, and means of interpretation in traditional museum and gallery settings. What have the increased presence of digital platforms and ways of working done for your approach to art-making, as well as engaging with the above-mentioned themes?  
WB: A digital platform represents work in a conventional way. A digital platform is not the work itself. It doesn’t change anything about The Blind Alphabet as an artwork, but gives art critics and art historians a chance to reflect and to accept or query.

Go back to page 1 of our Q&A with Willem Boshoff >>
View The Blind Alphabet in Motion
Watch The Blind Alphabet Docuseries

Navigate through our Moving Cube articles:
Willem Boshoff exhibition – The Blind Alphabet
Moving Cube – a newly developed UJ Art Gallery website
Mentorship, education and the Emerging Artist Development Programme – how to enter
Exploring The Blind Alphabet with MTN Foundation’s Niel Nortje
Curating context online: Annali Cabano-Dempsey discusses UJ’s Moving Cube

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