Brundyn+, Cape Town, South Africa
04 Dec 2014 - 24 Jan 2015
The function of myth is to empty reality: it is, literally, a ceaseless flowing out, a hemorrhage, or perhaps an evaporation, in short a perceptible absence.
-Roland Barthes, Mythologies (1957)
Brundyn+ present Anyway, the Wind Blows, a group exhibition conceptually framed around the notion of myths.
In his influential text Mythologies, Roland Barthes proposed that in semiology, myth removes history and context from signs and replaces them with loaded or reductive connotations posing as common sense and assumed truths. Taking this view as a starting point, the exhibition examines the demystification of contemporary myths as well as the potential for myths to be deliberately implemented as a strategy of critical examination.
Sanell Aggenbach both interrogates and intentionally perpetuates the assumptions and iconography of the momento mori genre, examining the shifts that take place in moments of personal significance when viewed through that particular lens.
Similarly, Alex Emsley uses the language of still life painting to turn a focus on seemingly banal, ubiquitous objects. In so doing, Emsley’s obsessively detailed paintings elevate these objects from the quotidian in a similar vein to Barthes’ location of modern myths within the everyday.
Incorporating signifiers with specific contextual relevance, Mohau Modisakeng looks at the idea of a post- 1994, “new” South Africa as myth, focusing on the pervasive existence of oppressive (often violent) structures from the past that continue to have bearing on the present.
Sethembile Msezane looks at the politics of memorialisation within the context of public holidays (specifically Youth Day, Heritage Day and Freedom Day) by documenting a series of site-specific performances in which the artist assumes the role of various characters who engage with the mythologising of specific historical events into the demarcated leisure of public holidays.
While embracing a sense of freedom in contemporary gay experience in Cape Town, Jody Paulsen’s latest work simultaneously turns a critical eye towards a perceived lack of acknowledgement of the history of individuals such as anti-apartheid and gay rights activist Simon Nkoli, whose struggles have been crucial in paving the way for this freedom.
With one foot simultaneously placed in the past and present, Ezra Wube turns to historic Ethiopian folklore, reintegrating these myths into contemporary art practice and, by doing so, presents a form of storytelling that our current technological age is unaccustomed to.
Reflecting on the significance of the Haitian Revolution (the first successful slave insurrection in history), Jeannette Ehlers references stories of a Vodou ceremony at Bois Caïman wherein hundreds of slaves drank the blood of a sacrificed black pig to draw power for the approaching revolution.
Richard Forbes looks at the idea of emptying reality into nothingness in a tangible sense, visualising notions of void and absence as a sort of mythologising taken to its absolute extremity.
Opening: Thursday 04 December, 6-9pm
as part of Art Week Cape Town and First Thursdays, Cape Town.