STEVENSON and the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) present a special project by CUSS Group, New Horizons, which will take place in the gallery’s fifth floor space.
In June 2016, as part of its cultural co-operation missions, IFAS supported CUSS Group’s participation in the ninth Berlin Biennale, where the group installed an exhibition space in collaboration with ANGEL-HO, FAKA, Megan Mace and NTU. In December, CUSS Group will curate an exhibition at STEVENSON’s fifth floor space in Johannesburg, based on their experience at the biennale and subsequent themes that have emerged in the group’s creative practice.
New Horizons explores themes of image composition and consumption as well as new modes of production. CUSS Group will collaborate with a number of commercial service providers: Nash Studio, Julius Decor, Sunset Casting and Bambanani Photo. Works will consist of a series of wallpapers and wall hangings, a triptych and cut-out displays as well as video. These works serve to highlight CUSS Group’s interests in sites of manipulation and the idea of the group as a ceaseless shape-shifting network.
Excerpt from CUSS Group’s statement:
The modern history of media, manipulation and propaganda is key to understanding an ominous cultural mood in ‘post-fact’ politics with the internet as the key medium. New technologies alter both the terms of how information is distributed, and how the powerful attempt to control and direct its flow. Through social media and smartphones, propaganda aims to be ‘democratic’; rather than being passive spectators, individuals are networked actors who are the key vectors for spreading new myths. Memes, ‘clickbait,’ viral videos, hysterical news stories all require active, if minimal, participation to be successful. And with participation, marginal groups or ideas can win influence which exceeds their relatively small status off-line. Every personal confessional can be mined through a targeted advertisement, every personal picture broken down into algorithms of money. We therefore see the emergence of participatory propaganda. Rather than being the passive subject, the imagined public is at once the consumer, producer and disseminator of malleable reality. But this process is never seamless. Reality constantly intrudes, like an unwelcome banquet guest. The higher the quality of deception, the higher the risk of the backdrop falling to reveal the cheapness of the set. The dream defaulting on itself.
The full statement will be available at the exhibition and in brochures produced by the group.
CUSS Group was founded in 2011 in Johannesburg by Ravi Govender, Mpumelelo Jamal Nxedlana, Lex Trickett and Zamani Xolo. The collective responds to commercial, cultural and technological super-hybridity in contemporary South Africa and beyond.
The exhibition will open on 1 December at 6pm, during the First Thursdays event in Braamfontein, and can be viewed thereafter from 9am to 5pm at Stevenson’s fifth floor space, 62 Juta Street, Monday to Friday