Clive van den Berg / A Pile of Stones / 2017

About

Goodman Gallery Johannesburg
19 January – 15 February 2017

How to represent the horror without re-inscribing it?

After seeing ISIS propaganda footage of gay men thrown from rooftops in Syria and Iraq and then publicly stoned, Clive van den Berg needed to “make good” these violated lives.

In A Pile of Stones, van den Berg exercises this reparative impulse, composing a body of work that protests against the actions of ISIS by “inverting the gaze” from voyeuristic propaganda, whose intention is to paralyse the viewer, to an empathetic and responsible act of looking.

His vision: to commemorate the lives of nameless men who are “wiped” from the ISIS regime for exhibiting the “wrong” kind of masculinity and to attribute dignity to these “ungrieveable” victims whose relations, friends and lovers cannot mourn them without implicating themselves.

Van den Berg’s solo exhibition straddles two central desires: to “carve out” a language of grieving in an increasingly intolerant global context where nonconformist masculinities are under threat, and to represent the horror of the ISIS killings – to re-construe the mechanics of the gaze – without re-inscribing the violation.

In his sculpture and painting, the artist pulls us closer to these surreal, barbaric scenes: from masked human bodies frozen in mid-air to crowd members grabbing stones to throw. At the same time, van den Berg highlights rare moments of reluctance in the crowd, interpreting them as possible silent protests.

Van den Berg reads the complicity with ISIS brutalist masculinity as a cloak of personal protection not to be judged, but to be understood within a repressive context. In these carefully “re-enacted” pieces, he asks: “In a society of coercive masculinity, is picking up the first stone an act of protection for some people?”

The centrepiece of the show, A Pile of Stones, is an intricate three-metre-high hand-carved wood sculpture that pays tribute to these faceless victims and demonstrates the scope and depth of the artist’s “redemptive gaze”.

By engaging with the ongoing violence towards gay men in Syria and Iraq, van den Berg narrows his gaze to an extreme version of the homophobic intolerance that increasingly pervades societies across the globe.

In South Africa where alternative masculinities remain repressed, this exhibition addresses the need for a nuanced conversation on gender and sexuality. “Race is rightly the dominant narrative”, he says, “but there are additional prisms through which we can understand who we are and what we need to do to become a caring and responsible society.”

Van den Berg’s exhibition is a call to sharpen our gaze to recognise and value, rather than repress and disguise, the “masculine other”.

Clive van den Berg is an artist, curator, designer, writer and teacher, who lives and works in Johannesburg. His core projects include the exhibition design at Freedom Park, the artwork integral to the Northern Cape Legislature buildings, the museums at Constitution Hill, as well as several Mandela Foundation exhibitions. This wealth of experience positions van den Berg as a key player in defining the structures of remembrance in post-apartheid South Africa.

Van den Berg’s work has garnered major awards and features in public and private collections, including the Smithsonian Collections. Recently, he was the recipient of The Rockefeller Foundation residency in Italy, which supports artists to generate innovative work that engages with global and social issues. Concurrent to this residency, van den Berg delivered a lecture series in Venice, Bellagio and New York in which he addressed the horror of these killings by ISIS in relation to his new body of work.

All work on A Pile of Stones forms part of van den Berg’s ongoing Men Loving series, which queries what bodies are deemed “legitimate” to mourn and memorialise in societies around the world today.

  • Lovers

    Clive van den Berg

    Lovers, 2016

    Wood and oil colour

    45 x 30 x 20 cm

  • Landscape (kind of)

    Clive van den Berg

    Landscape (kind of), 2016

    Oil on canvas

    200 x 200 cm

  • Untitled

    Clive van den Berg

    Untitled, 2016

    Oil on canvas

    150 x 200 cm

  • A pile of stones

    Clive van den Berg

    A pile of stones , 2016

    Installation: Wood, Steel, and Oil Colour

    430 cm x 100 cm diameter

  • Figure in Disguise I

    Clive van den Berg

    Figure in Disguise I, 2016

    Wood and oil colour

    92 x 28 x 30 cm

  • Talisman II

    Clive van den Berg

    Talisman II, 2017

    Oil on canvas

    150 x 250 cm

  • What happens in the sky

    Clive van den Berg

    What happens in the sky , 2016

    Oil on canvas

    250 x 150 cm

  • Murder, Raqqa, Syria? (part of set of 7)

    Clive van den Berg

    Murder, Raqqa, Syria? (part of set of 7), 2015

    Jelutong and acrylic pigment

    38 x 31.5 x 14 cm

  • Murder, Homs, Syria? (part of set of 7)

    Clive van den Berg

    Murder, Homs, Syria? (part of set of 7), 2015

    Jelutong and acrylic pigment

    36 x 31 x 14 cm

  • Murder: Homs, Syria? 2 (part of set of 7)

    Clive van den Berg

    Murder: Homs, Syria? 2 (part of set of 7), 2016

    Jelutong and acrylic pigment

    36 x 31 x 6 cm

  • Murder: Nineveh, Iraq? (part of set of 7)

    Clive van den Berg

    Murder: Nineveh, Iraq? (part of set of 7), 2016

    Jelutong wood and paint

    36 x 35 x 13.5 cm

  • Murder: Nineveh, Iraq? 2 (part of set of 7)

    Clive van den Berg

    Murder: Nineveh, Iraq? 2 (part of set of 7), 2016

    Jelutong wood and paint

    36 x 35 x 13cm

  • In Memorium - they threw him

    Clive van den Berg

    In Memorium - they threw him, 2016

    Wood, wax and pigment on metal base

    104 x 70 x 40 cm

  • Man Flees the spectacle (in Disguise) III

    Clive van den Berg

    Man Flees the spectacle (in Disguise) III, 2016

    Watercolour on paper

    30.5 x 23 cm

  • Man Flees the Spectacle (in Disguise) II

    Clive van den Berg

    Man Flees the Spectacle (in Disguise) II, 2016

    Watercolour on paper

    30.5 x 23 cm

  • Pink bearing orange

    Clive van den Berg

    Pink bearing orange, 2016

    Wood and oil colour

    130 x 27.5 x 29.5 cm

  • Holding the Archive

    Clive van den Berg

    Holding the Archive, 2016

    Wood and oil colour

    127 x 27 x 28 cm

  • Man Flees the Spectacle (in disguise) I

    Clive van den Berg

    Man Flees the Spectacle (in disguise) I, 2016

    Watercolour on paper

    30.5 x 23 cm

  • Bearing the sky

    Clive van den Berg

    Bearing the sky, 2016

    Wood and oil colours

    113 x 30 x 56 cm

  • Falling and its Echoes

    Clive van den Berg

    Falling and its Echoes, 2016

    watercolour on paper

    30,5 x 23 cm

  • Man Turns Away

    Clive van den Berg

    Man Turns Away, 2016

    Wood and oil colours

    59 x 16 x 40 cm

  • Man flees the spectacle

    Clive van den Berg

    Man flees the spectacle, 2016

    Wood and oil colours

    65 x 16 x 40 cm

  • And Yet, Love II

    Clive van den Berg

    And Yet, Love II, 2016

    Watercolour on paper

    30,5 x 23 cm

  • And Yet, Love III

    Clive van den Berg

    And Yet, Love III, 2016

    watercolour on paper

    35,5 x 24,5 cm

  • And Yet, Love I

    Clive van den Berg

    And Yet, Love I, 2016

    watercolour on paper

    30.5 x 23 cm

  • Shards of Sky

    Clive van den Berg

    Shards of Sky, 2016

    Oil on canvas

    200 x 100 cm

  • Talisman I

    Clive van den Berg

    Talisman I, 2016

    Oil on canvas

    200 x 150 cm

  • Witness I

    Clive van den Berg

    Witness I, 2016

    Watercolour on paper

    25,5 x 17.5 cm

  • Witness II

    Clive van den Berg

    Witness II, 2016

    Watercolour on paper

    25.5 x 17.5 cm

  • Murder: Al Furat, Iraq? (part of set of 7)

    Clive van den Berg

    Murder: Al Furat, Iraq? (part of set of 7), 2016

    jelutong and acrylic pigment

    36 x 31 x 7 cm

  • Murder: Nineveh, Iraq? 3  (part of set of 7)

    Clive van den Berg

    Murder: Nineveh, Iraq? 3 (part of set of 7), 2016

    jelutong and acrylic pigment

    33 x 32 x 11.5 cm

  • Installation picture [Clive van den Berg / A Pile of Stones / 2017]
  • Installation picture [Clive van den Berg / A Pile of Stones / 2017]
  • Installation picture [Clive van den Berg / A Pile of Stones / 2017]
  • Installation picture [Clive van den Berg / A Pile of Stones / 2017]
  • Installation picture [Clive van den Berg / A Pile of Stones / 2017]
  • Installation picture [Clive van den Berg / A Pile of Stones / 2017]
  • Installation picture [Clive van den Berg / A Pile of Stones / 2017]
  • Installation picture [Clive van den Berg / A Pile of Stones / 2017]
  • Installation picture [Clive van den Berg / A Pile of Stones / 2017]
  • Installation picture [Clive van den Berg / A Pile of Stones / 2017]
  • Installation picture [Clive van den Berg / A Pile of Stones / 2017]
  • Installation picture [Clive van den Berg / A Pile of Stones / 2017]