ALL YOU CAN BE

Snowflake building, Potchefstroom, 2001 

Solo exhibition, accompanied by a 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 representation. As one of the three 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 was presented as an extensive installation in an abandoned flour factory. The degeneracy of the space contrasted sharply with the pristine ‘white cube’ galleries in which the work had been shown previously. With its stained, peeling walls, deteriorating structures and defunct industrial machinery, it provided a compellingly abject, dystopian backdrop to the artwork. 

 

Projected onto three 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 Be includes works made during a six month residency at the Dept. of Art and Architecture, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, namely Incise, 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 and the skin’s tensile strength is tested to reach maximum levels of tautness. They were exhibited together 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), Jibby Beane Contemporary, London. Beauty Bar featured on Body as Commodity (1999), Nexus Contemporary Art, Atlanta TN (with Marc Quinn and Nan Goldin). 

 

 © 2020 by Leora Farber

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LEORA FARBER