All You Can Be

Snowflake building, Potchefstroom.

Major solo exhibition comprising sculptural, photographic and video work, accompanied by anabridged catalogue with text by Pamela Allara.

All You Can Be is a retrospective of work produced from 1996-2001, thematically centered on use of the female body to critique gendered power relations inscribed in western visual representation. As one of the 3 ‘official’ artists featured on the 2001 Aardklop National Arts Festival, I was invited to exhibit this body of work together so as to maximise its affective impact. The work is presented as anextensive installation in an abandoned flour factory. The degeneracy of the space contrastssharplywith the pristine ‘white cube’ galleries in which the work had previously been shown.With its stained, peeling walls, deteriorating structures and defunct industrial machinery,the space provides a compellingly abject, dystopian backdrop to the artwork.

Projected onto 3 large-scale screens at the front of the room, the visuals and audio of the video, Four Minor Renovations (2000) dominates the space. Seemingly ‘randomly’ placed wax sculptures and wall-pieces housed in glass cabinets are spotlighted, illuminating the works so that they ‘emerge’ from the depths of the dark, airless space. Resembling Victorian displays of grotesqueries, the wax works read as curiously ‘dead’ – motionless and opaque against the moving images. The drama and theatricality of the presentation highlights the artifice of gendered identity constructs, while its strong evocation of simultaneous horror and beauty may induce an overwhelming sense of abjection.

All You Can Beincludesworks made during a 6month residency at the Dept. of Art and Architecture, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, namelyIncise, Beauty Bar and Untitled (1998). In these works, the concept of skin as a containing boundary is pushed to an extreme: wrinkles, folds and creases are carved out to become deep crevices andthe skin’s tensile strength is tested to reach maximum levels of tautness. These works were exhibited with Morgan (1997) on Two Icons: The Atom, The Body (2000), curated by Kathryn Smith (Urban Futures 2000, MuseuMAfricA, Johannesburg). Morgan showed on The New Anatomists (1999), Gallery 1010, The Wellcome Institute, London (catalogue);The Exquisite Corpse (1999) and Adorn (1999), JibbyBeane Contemporary, London. Beauty Barfeatured on Body as Commodity (1999), Nexus Contemporary Art, Atlanta TN (with Marc Quinn and Nan Goldin).