Goodman Gallery Cape Town
28 November – 11 January 2020
Goodman Gallery presents Soft Architectures, a group exhibition interrogating the intersection of architecture and structures of power and resistance.
Through sculpture, drawing, print, lens-based media and performance, the work of seven artists each explore the subtle and overt ways in which architecture has been implicated into forms of racialised surveillance, segregated accessibility and the discipline and comportment of bodies, and in turn how architecture has been subverted towards forms of resistance such as strategic concealment and networks of defiance.
Soft Architectures is realised across locations at Goodman Cape Town with many of the works themselves resisting and subverting the disciplinary constraints of the gallery space.
Artists include Yto Barrada (New York, USA), Kapwani Kiwanga (Paris, France), Simone Leigh (New York, USA), Mateo López (New York, USA), Paul Maheke (London, UK), Naama Tsabar (New York, USA) and Jeremy Wafer (Johannesburg, South Africa).
Kapwani Kiwanga’s research-based practice brings to light the materials used to entrench social, political and economic power structures as well as the artefacts used by those who have learned to circumnavigate these obstacles. Kiwanga’s recent body of work, Safe Passage, looks at systems which surveil and control individuals. Kiwanga connects these systems to a historic instance of surveillance used against black Americans from the time of slavery and the Jim Crow era to more modern technologies used to track citizens.
Yto Barrada similarly looks at strategies and gestures of survival and resistance in response to structures of power and control. Barrada unpacks the various ways in which authorities displace populations, raising questions of appropriation and authenticity.
Barrada’s work creates structures of resistance through engaging alternative histories, highlighting the prevalence of fiction in hegemonic narratives.
Naama Tsabar uses everyday materials to realise experiential and conceptually-charged installations which question power, eroticism, gender and memory. In her most recent work, Tsabar invited female musicians to explore a new vocabulary of movement and sound through performances in which they insert their bodies between repurposed fragments of instruments juxtaposed alongside images where a female body penetrates and intertwines with walls.
Simone Leigh works across various disciplines including sculpture, video, performance and social projects which focus on race, history and gender. Leigh’s practice centres the black female experience and draws on African and African-American objects, ethnography, the history of architecture, feminist criticism and chronicles of political resistance. In so doing Leigh interrogates how material culture is categorised and historicised, as well as the anonymous, often invisibilised labour of women.
Jeremy Wafer’s practice variously explores colonial legacies. Working in
a broadly post-minimalist sculptural idiom, Wafer’s sculptural installations investigate the notions and implications of location, boundaries, and constructed borders and the imprint of human architecture and it’s inherent and directed divisions and separations on the landscape.
Paul Maheke realises immersive installations through which he interrogates the potential of the body as an archive in order to address how history, memory and identity are formed and constituted. Incorporating installation, video, sound and performance, Maheke often plays with the interiority and exteriority of the gallery space in order to explore the tensions between hypervisibility and erasure.
Mateo López studied architecture for two years, before beginning his practice as an artist. In this work Lopéz challenges our perspectives of scale, dimension and functionality. Lopéz realises drawings and installations to describe autobiographical journeys, creating studio-like situations in which the production and display of the work intersect. In many cases, Lopéz combines real objects with drawings that he expands into three-dimensional forms, unfolding a narrative constructed by processes of associations rather than a linear trajectory.
Born in Durban, South Africa in 1953. Lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Jeremy Wafer was born in Durban in 1953 and grew up in Nkwalini in what was then Zululand. He studied fine art at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg (B.A.F.A.1979) and at the University of the Witwatersrand (B.A. Hons. in Art History 1980 and M.A. Fine Art 1987). He has taught in the Fine Art Departments of the former Technikon Natal (now DUT) and Technikon Witwatersrand (now UJ) before being appointed Associate Professor. Wafer received his PhD in 2016 and was subsequently appointed full professor of Sculpture in the School of Arts of the University of the Witwatersrand. Wafer is the recipient of numerous awards and residencies, notably the Standard Bank National Drawing Prize in 1987 and the Sasol Wax Art Award in 2006. His work featured on the South African Pavilion of the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015. Wafer has exhibited in South Africa and internationally, his work is represented in the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC, the South African National Gallery, the Johannesburg Art Gallery as well as in many other museum, private and corporate collections.
Naama Tsabar (b. 1982, Israel) lives and works in New York City. She received her MFA from Columbia University in 2010. Solo exhibitions and performances of Tsabar have been presented at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York), Museum of Art and Design (New York), The High Line Art (New York), Kunsthuas Baselland (Switzerland), Palais De Tokyo (Paris), Prospect New Orleans, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, The Herziliya Museum for Contemporary Art in Israel, MARTE-C (El Salvador), CCA Tel Aviv (Israel), Faena Buenos Aires, Frieze Projects New York, Paul Kasmin Gallery (New York), Paramo Gallery (Guadalajara), Dvir Gallery (Israel), Spinello Projects (Miami). Selected group exhibitions featuring Tsabar’s work include Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, Elevation 1049 Gstaad (Switzerland), Goodman Gallery (South Africa), TM Triennale, Hasselt Genk, Belgium, ‘Greater New York’ 2010 at MoMA PS1, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens (Belgium), The Bucharest Biennale for Young Artists, Hessel Museum of Art at CCS Bard, Casino Luxembourg (Luxembourg), ExtraCity in Antwerp (Belgium). Tsabar’s work has been featured in publications including ArtForum, Art In America, ArtReview, ARTnews, The New York Times, New York Magazine, Frieze, Bomb Magazine, Art Asia Pacific, Wire, and Whitewall, among others.
Kapwani Kiwanga studied anthropology and comparative religion at McGill University (Montreal, CA). She has followed the program “La Seine” at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris, and also works at Le Fresnoy (a french national center for contemporary art). She was artist in residence at the MU Foundation in Eindhoven (NL) and at the Box in Bourges (FR).
Working with sound, film, performance, and objects, Kapwani Kiwanga relies on extensive research to transform raw information into investigations of historical narratives and their impact on political, social, and community formation. The Paris-based artist’s work focuses on sites specific to Africa and the African diaspora, examining how certain events expand and unfold into popular and folk narratives, and revealing how these stories take shape in objects and oral histories. Trained as an anthropologist, Kiwanga performs this role in her artistic practice, using historical information to construct narratives about groups of people. Kiwanga is not only invested in the past but also the future, telling Afrofuturist stories and creating speculative dossiers from future civilizations to reflect on the impact of historical events.