Thursday, January 28, 2010

Shadi at Goethe

From this blog you would think that January was Lerato Shadi month but it was kind of in Joburg. It definitely was one of the hottest shows on this month. Sean Slemon opened at Brodie/Stevenson but it was open for such a short time that it closed before I got to see it, which I am really dissapointed about, the images that David posted on FB looked fantastic. Minette Vari's Parallax opened at the Goodman and was there yesterday to check it out. She had some really cool video artworks (as usual), she really is one of a few artists who exploits the digital film medium. Will be reviewing for next week in the Sunday Indy so won't go into much detail. BTW: The Goodman Gallery in Joburg is expanding; Liza gave me a short tour yesterday. There will be permanent photographic section, with a sort of archive of photographic prints. There will also be a coffee shop and a sort of library area where members of the public will be able to peruse through the gallery's extensive collection of art books. This has to be a first for a South African gallery and I think it is a wonderful addition to the gallery, it will encourage people to spend more time at the gallery and it will hopefully encourage the public to read about art, a neccessary activity if they are to appreciate it to its fullest extent.

My Shadi review:

LERATO Shadi is an old-school performance artist in the sense that she is physically invested in her works. Her works are lengthy - Selogilwe (Setswana for "woven") is seven hours - and, therefore, require a high level of physical commitment. So, on a very basic level she explores perpetual actions and how they impact on the body. There is always a sense with Shadi's work that she wishes to identify those acts that are fundamental to human existence.

Shadi uses a neutral canvas for her performances by employing a white palette for the background (in the video performances), her outfit and the metal cubes, which she crawls through in Se Sa Feleng (reference to a Setswana idiom that refers to an eternal state of affairs). This decontextualises her actions, allowing them to exist as abstract expression. It also establishes an imaginative plain, encouraging the viewer to attach their subjective interpretations to the works.

The repetitiveness of her actions also locks viewers into a meditative state, which can simultaneously free them from thought altogether. No doubt, while performing Shadi too vacillates between serious contemplation and mindlessness - both equally empowering states that allow her to either completely inhabit her physical being or to altogether detach from it. And this is the dual function of repetitive movements.