Pulling at Threads

Gallery 1
Curated by Owen Martin
28 April – 20 August 2018

Pulling at Threads considers the role of craft in the practices of contemporary artists from South Africa and beyond. Bringing together artists that use techniques such as weaving, sewing, beading and collage, the artworks included in this exhibition challenge traditional art historical hierarchies that prefer painting and sculpture over craft-based media. These techniques represent both process and subject, where the form of making fundamentally informs the meaning of each object. Through labour intensive processes, innovative use of materials, exploration of form and hybrid cultural references, these artworks suggest new approaches to making images and objects in the 21st century.

A return to the haptic—the use of touch to understand and manipulate our world— cannot be appreciated without acknowledging the ways that the digital revolution has fundamentally transformed how we experience the world.

This has occurred in both subtle and fundamental ways. Areas as disparate as banking, grocery shopping and dating have been revolutionized by digital technologies and we now experience money, groceries and love via a screen. It is within the context of our increasingly virtual experience of what was previously a physical engagement, which the use of ‘low tech’ or craft techniques take on their poignancy. These processes require a direct and often sustained engagement with materials. While the artworks included in Pulling at Threads do not reject the digital—indeed many refer to digital media or processes—they nonetheless celebrate tactile processes of making.

Pulling at Threads highlights the various social, political and religious meanings of the materials and techniques that these artists use. Weaving, sewing, beading and collage have long been associated with gender and cultural stereotypes. For example, Liza Lou has painstakingly recreated domestic environments using glass beads that comment on how women’s labour continues to be undervalued. This is reinforced by a meticulous attention to construction. Billie Zangewa has created delicate images out of silk depicting women of colour that confidently and directly engage viewers, quietly defying expectations. In a very different way Ibrahim Mahama brings to the fore Africa’s role in the exchange of commodities and the migration of people through his use of hessian sacks that bear traces of coal and cocoa production. These artists, and many others in Pulling at Threads, consciously manipulate the expectations associated with specific techniques and materials to comment on complex social, political, and religious meanings.

Norval Foundation would like to thank BlainSouthern, Berlin/London; Blank Projects, Cape Town; Goodman Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg; Victoria Miro, London/Venice; WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town; and White Cube, Hong Kong/London.

Artists:
Igshaan Adams
Nick Cave
William Kentridge & Marguerite Stephens
Abdoulaye Konaté
Liza Lou
Ibrahim Mahama
Maria Nepomuceno
Lyndi Sales
Billie Zangewa

 

 

Installation view.

Installation view.

Installation view.

Installation view.

Igshaan Adams
The path of the upright, 2017
Beads, ropes, twine and dye
260 x 200 x 10 cm
Wendy Fisher Collection
Nick Cave
Soundsuit, 2012
Buttons, wire, bugle beads, basket/wood, upholstery and mannequin
250 x 78 x 32 cm
Scheryn Art Collection
Courtesy of Jack Shainman, New York
Nick Cave
Soundsuit, 2012
Buttons, wire, bugle beads, basket/wood, upholstery and mannequin
250 x 78 x 32 cm
Scheryn Art Collection
Courtesy of Jack Shainman, New York
Nick Cave
Gestalt, 2014
Digital Video (Colour, Sound)
14 min 0 seconds
Emile Stipp Collection
Courtesy of Jack Shainman, New York
Lindi Sales
Albers Code
Composition Bleue avec Orange et Jaune, 2016
Textile
218 x 152 cm
Igshaan Adams
Oorskot, 2016
Wire, beads, string, wire coils, nylon rope and fabric
390 x 100 x 100 cm (dimensions variable)
Courtesy of Blank Projects, Cape Town
Liza Lou
Axis Defeat, 2007-2008
Glass beads on aluminium
274 x 168 cm
Private Collection
Courtesy of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London / Paris / Salzburg;
Goodman Gallery, Cape Town / Johannesburg;
Lehmann maupin, Hong Kong / New York / Seoul;
White Cube, Hong Kong / London
Abdoulaye Konaté
Composition Bleue avec Orange et Jaune, 2016
Textile
218 x 152 cm
Scheryn Art Collection
Courtesy of BlainSouthern, Berlin / London;
Primo marella Gallery, Milan
Billie Zangewa
Vision of Love, 2018
Silk
135 x 98cm
The Ekard Collection
Courtesy of Blank Projects, Cape Town
Lyndi Sales
Bringing into Line: Dissecting Colour Into Rays, 2015
Synthetic rope, wool and acrylic on linen
104 x 84 cm
Courtesy of WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town
Ibrahim Mahama
TECHIMAN AFRAM, 2017. Courtesy of the artist; White Cube, London/Hong Kong. Photo: Ollie Hammick (copyright White Cube).
Charcoal jute sacks and scrap metal tarpaulin on charcoal jute sacks
360 x 340 cm
William Kentridge and Marguerite Stephens
City of Moscow, 2009
Mohair tapestry
290 x 310cm
Photo: John Hodgkiss
Courtesy of Goodman Gallery, Cape Town / Johannesburg;
Lia Rumma, Milan / Naples;
Marian Goodman Gallery, London / New York / Paris
Maria Nepomuceno
Untitled, 2016
Clay, ropes, ceramic, cabaça, wood, beads, fiberglass and resine
90 x 30 x 85 cm
Courtesy of Victoria Miro, London / Venice
Maria Nepomuceno
Untitled, 2016
Ceramic, ropes, beads, cabaça, fiberglass and resine
70 x 50 x 30 cm
Courtesy of Victoria Miro, London / Venice
Maria Nepomuceno
Untitled, 2016
Ropes, ceramic, beads, fiberglass and resin
67 x 59 x 30 cm
Courtesy of Victoria Miro, London / Venice

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