The research entity Visual Narratives and Creative Outputs (ViNCO) at North-West University (NWU) recently announced the opening of an exhibition titled Stairways and Ruins, hosted at the NWU Gallery in Potchefstroom.
The exhibition comprises installations, paintings, and moving images by 23 established and emerging artists, including students from the Graphic Design and History of Art courses in which ViNCO is situated.
“Fighting on the battlefields of paint, print, sculptures, installations and new media, the paths the artists pave in Stairways and Ruins often leads us away from our everyday existence.”Andrew Lamprecht, curator
For the exhibition, artists were asked to produce a visual artwork using the idea of stairways and ruins, developed from the writings of Bessie Head and Sol Plaatje, as a prompt. Interested artists were briefed on thematic and conceptual possibilities of this notion, including archival matters, memorialisation, myth, auto-ethnography, and (re-) imagined pasts and futures. Therefore, creative possibilities sparked by the topic of the project relate to stairways that invite notions of dreaming, transporting, transcending, and creating, as well as ruins that suggest a consideration of the past, of destruction and of wreckage.
“Artists have been at the forehand of helping us understand how we live now and how we have become changed – irrevocably,” says Iziko South African National Gallery’s curator of historical paintings, Andrew Lamprecht, and curator of the exhibition at NWU Gallery.
“The work here is deeply reflective and utilises techniques that are often labour intensive, technically challenging, and always deeply engaging. Junk, the throw-away and the carefully preserved over generations jostle for space in what becomes an archive of the past and one that seeks to preserve for the future.”Andrew Lamprecht, curator
Stairways and Ruins forms part of a large-scale, three-year collaborative project of the same name. The project comprises three phases: a launch together with an open call to artists to participate (in 2022); the exhibition (in 2023), and finally, a reflection on the project with peer-reviewed scholarly articles during the course of the following year (in 2024). Participating artists at academic institutions can also apply for recognition of creative outputs as research in this context.
Stairways and Ruins was organised by ViNCO members, and is the fourth large-scale, three-year project undertaken by the research entity. Previous projects were Tracking creative creatures (2007 to 2009), Transgressions and boundaries of the page (2009 to 2011) and Reflective conversations (2012 to 2014).
More information about this project and previous projects, can be found at https://humanities.nwu.ac.za/vinco. The exhibition at NWU Gallery will run until 31 August 2023.