Igshaan Adams: skarrelbaan

blank gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
12 Feb 2022 - 19 Mar 2022

Igshaan Adams, skarrelbaan, 2022.

Igshaan Adams, skarrelbaan, 2022.

An Afrikaans colloquialism in the Kaaps (Cape) dialect, the exhibition title is a phrase that refuses translation. Referring to a particular way of moving through the world with a wary desperation to improve one’s circumstances, to be on the skarrelbaan is to be on the lookout for good fortune; hustling for jobs, money, or food.

Comprising a series of new large-scale weavings and installation, the exhibition expands on the artist’s investigations of desire lines, those paths walked into the landscape that circumvent or resist spatial planning. In Cape Town, this resistance to the confines of organised space holds a special poignancy; one of the enduring evils of Apartheid is the physical segregation and economic exclusion of people of colour by means of boundaries, highways and veld (open ground). The paths that traverse these spaces describe the journeys of people, led by intuition or necessity, in search of work and community.

Working with satellite imagery to create motifs for his tapestries, Adams invites us to witness these collective histories from above. Weaving their stories into the works on show, he transforms commonplace materials such as recycled nylon rope, string, wire and beads into precious objects.

Much like the pathways trampled into vinyl flooring tell the personal histories of a domestic space so too do these desire paths, at hundreds of times the scale, record the daily pursuits of individuals and communities.

Extending across one room of the gallery is an installation of wire sculptures that hover above a network of pathways woven out of fine gold chain. The wire prayer clouds, as Adams refers to them, represent the notion that the hopes and aspirations we send upwards to heaven could become caught, trapped in the clouds on their way to their intended destination. Adams’s clouds glint and flicker with embellishments; the glimmers of hope made tangible. They also recall the dust clouds of the rieldans, a traditional dance of courtship (desire) involving fast footwork that leaves dust from the ground suspended in the air. The grounded weightiness of the woven pathways, the lightness of the clouds, and the visual tension between the two reminds us of what it is to have one’s feet on the ground and head in the clouds.

Through this tracing of pathways throughout the exhibition, an imagined figure is conjured up, walking their own desire path. Her gait – know him by his gait – is determined; pursuing. Even as she walks the hard terrain, her thoughts are full of dreams and visions of success. Kop in ‘n Google cloud, voete op ‘n skarrelbaan.

skarrelbaan is the artist’s sixth exhibition with the gallery.




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