I am at my happiest, and most in my element as artist, when I am performing with my artworks. For me performance runs through everything that I do in my studio when I am all alone, in the gallery when the public see my art, and out in the world when I perform with my art objects. I feel that as a post-post-modern, web 2.0 Westerner living in a globalised Capitalist state, I have lost a sense of culture, metaphysics and ritual in my daily life and communities, and my art performances entail my return to meaningful actions in my life.
Advocate of Nature
This artwork entails me pushing a tree trunk 17km from my studio near Waltloo in Pretoria East to Church Square in the CBD of Pretoria. Along the way I collect fallen branches from the roadside and attach them to the trunk, effectively ‘growing’ the tree as I progress. The route exclusively follows the R104 Stanza Bopape, which is largely used by big, dirty industrial vehicles and is dusty and strewn with litter. I appear as a forager desperately clutching at the remnants of nature and its beauty as I make my way. The title comes from a passer-by who spontaneously interacted with me, and in a 5 minute, unprompted monologue dubbed me an “advocate of nature”.
The installation in the gallery starts at the gallery floor, which is covered with wood shavings and saw dusts of the various woods that Laing employs in his artmaking. The wood fills the gallery with its scents, cushions the footfalls of the viewers, and generally works its way into everyone’s socks. In the centre of the space are hand-carved wooden vessels that contain pure samples of shavings of the particular species that each is made from, allowing the viewers to become more intimatelyfamiliar with each type of wood. At the far end of the gallery stands the artist, decked out in his Finest Ritual Workwear and Maker’s Mask, ready at his Portable Ceremonial Workbench.
Viewers are now able to take a numbered wooden token and wait their turn to commission a unique artwork made for them on the spot. In return for offering the artist either any object of their choosing, or a short story, the viewer receives a small, freshly-made wooden sculpture. This is a way for viewers to take part in the joy of making, share something with the artist and gain some understanding of what it is that he does, and how.
The title of the show refers to the way in which wood is processed from a branch (takkie) and turned into something completely different and more complex, but at the end of the day, it is still just a takkie, no matter how high tech one tries to make it sound, and that this is totally fine.
Installation of shot of a performance where a friend and I created an interactive game that could be played via voice-notes on Whatsapp. One ‘technician’ would go out into public spaces and facilitate people to play the ‘choose your own adventure’ style game. The other technician sits in the Pretoria Art Museum next to a crate containing a Picasso work, and using séance techniques is able to talk to the dead artist and channel his story to the player outside via a smart phone. The story being told was of when Picasso visited Africa (which
never happened in actual fact) and the player is able to guide his choices towards more benevolent or more devious actions.
*** *** ***
Gosol, an African country; has become the world leader of technological and scientific development through their most recent time travelling invention: a device that allows a user to travel back in time and assume the consciousness of any person that has a recorded history.
The leaders of Gosol have chosen to use this technology and send Gosolii individuals back in time to assume the identity of Pablo Picasso in 1906: the year his black period began.
The year was chosen because it precedes Picasso’s iconic ‘Black period’ painting, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, and at the time Picasso had never set a foot in Africa. His only experience of Africa was through museums, media and imagination. Therefore the Gosolii argue that Picasso’s interpretation of Africa is superficial and consequently the Black period of Picasso belongs to Africa.
The project is carried out in Africa by two Gosolii, namely Oliver Mayhew and Allen Laing. A Technician-Guide (T-G) and an Artist-Medium (A-M), who use a technologically enhanced ritual device (smart phone) to channel the identity of Picasso to make new artworks that reclaim the African aspects of Picasso’s work. Both scientists are clothed in Gosolii technician’s outfits.
The T-G guides the participants through the use of a ‘choose your own adventure’ platform displayed on a smart phone which allows the user to become Picasso. By making key decisions in his journey through Africa, the participant determines his experience in Africa. The choices change the history of Picasso, which results in the participant creating an original Picasso artwork through the A-M. The artwork is sold, and the money earned from this goes directly back to the participant. Therefore the performance goes beyond the wall of the gallery and has a social and financial effect on everyday African citizens. This allows the value of the intellectual property used by Picasso to be returned to Africa.
The premiere of my Coffee Machine (a walking stick that can make coffee anywhere) at Starbucks coffee in Rosebank - the first SB store in South Africa. In the words of Ninja: "I like coffee but norrefuck will I drink Starbucks 'cos Starbucks sucks."
Coffee Machine was used in a performance at Starbucks in Rosebank. I put out an open call on some artist opportunity groups, inviting anyone to be interviewed by me to take part in a performance artwork. Applicants had to be “prepared to engage in intimate activities with the artist” if they were selected (this clause was included to make the opportunity sound especially unsavoury). Applicant would be given R500 for making the effort to attend the interview. Along with the Coffee Machine I had a Go-Pro camera on my head and in my hand, and a friend who filmed me covertly.
I arrived at the Starbucks carrying the Coffee Machine and cameras and asked the applicant to accompany me to the sidewalk, where I proceeded to make us two cups of coffee. We then proceeded to discuss the supposed performance over our coffees, and at the end I remunerated the applicant for their time and we went our separate ways.
The artwork entailed a light-hearted and somewhat silly criticism of the ‘coffee culture’ of the hip urban middle class young adults, and my petty frustration at having to pay R20 for a cup of coffee that I drink black and without sugar, just to be part of a certain social ‘scene’.