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During the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa,Thomas Mulcaire and Ricardo de Oliveira created Afrika – a film inspired by Timothy Leary’s proclamation that humankind was evolving towards a purely aesthetic state, and that surfing is the embodiment of this process. Following a group of Brazilian surfers on a road trip around Southern Africa, the film explores this notion through their dynamic encounters with a new and multifaceted part of the world.
Along the way they visit memorial sites to Samora Machel and Hector Pieterson, witnessing a new generation picking up ideals from the past and reinvigorating the struggle. They visit surfing Mecca – Jeffrey’s Bay, joining in on a protest against a nuclear power station that threatens to destroy what are universally known as the world’s most perfect waves. They watch Brazil get knocked out of the World Cup in Port Elizabeth and then continue to do what they came for – surf.
What is ultimately a documentary of this spirited journey; the film also references the genre of 1970s surf movies. It is bilingual, featuring Portuguese and English, as well as subtitles in both languages. A TV documentary version of the film featured on Brazilian MTV earlier this year. Afrika was shot in high definition and as a result Mulcaire and de Oliveira produced a series of photographic prints that deconstruct the film into its component parts, which they are presenting as part of their exhibition at Goodman Gallery projects titled LIGHT AND VARIABLE WINDS WITH A LARGE LONG PERIOD SWELL. People familiar with shipping forecasts will recognise this phrase as representing epic conditions for surfing. The exhibition will also feature a wall piece and a series of sculptures and will run until 21 August 2011.
Afrika features Brazilian surfers Cassio ,Sanchez, Fernando Fanta, James Santos and Mario Massarelli, with guest appearances by Bruce Gold, Derek Hynd, Khayelihle Ncgobo, Bright Ntuli and Mbongeni Hlengwa. Original score by Shelby Gaines and Firstborn. Music by David Marks, Bailterspace and Eliza Callahan. Cinematography by Pablo Aguiar, Justin Healy, Ricardo Carioba, Mauricio Granado, Bobby de Beer, Paul van Jaarsveld. Edited by Duco Coops.
The artists have also created an interrelated sculpture during their residency at the Nirox Foundation titled Point Break. The work can be viewed by appointment.
Thomas Mulcaire was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1971. He began a Fine Arts degree at Wits University, and then travelled abroad before returning to complete a BA degree in History of Art and Literature at Wits in 1993. He now lives in Ubatuba, Brazil. Mulcaire’s work takes many different forms and crosses into film, photography, sculpture, and installation. In particular, he has worked on a number of collaborations that interrogate the assumed limits of authorship in relation to the artwork. One such project is the Interpolar Transnational Art Science Constellation (ITASC), which he founded in 2005 with Marko Peljhan.
ITASC is described on their website as ‘a decentralized network of individuals and organisations working collaboratively in the fields of art, engineering and science on the interdisciplinary development and deployment of renewable energy, waste recycling systems and sustainable architecture to enable the production and distribution of open-format, open-source remote field research in Antarctica and the Arctic. ITASC is a lichen-like structure sharing and integrating local knowledge, resources and skills across seven continents in order to symbiotically engage with the air, ocean, earth and space commons.’ In February 2009, Mulcaire, Ntsikelelo Ntshingila, and Pol Taylor installed ICEPAC (the ITASC Catabatic Experimental Platform for Antarctic Culture) at Vesleskarvet Nunatak in the Dronning Maud Land sector of Antarctica, the world’s first mobile polar research base to be powered entirely by solar and wind energy. Such projects illustrate Mulcaire’s interest in various forms of networks – spatial, human, technological, and cellular, as well as his concern with the way in which we inhabit and make use of the limited resources of our planet.
Mulcaire has exhibited at the Saõ Paulo, Sydney, and Ushuaia biennales. He has worked as an exhibitions co-coordinator (notably for the Johannesburg Biennale in 1995), an assistant curator at Documenta, founder and director of the ICA in Cape Town, as well as a curator for projects in Kassel, New York, Saõ Paulo, and Perth. In 2008 and 2009 he exhibited his work at the Goodman Gallery Johannesburg and Cape Town. This year he participates in Unwetter at the Akademie der Kunst in Berlin, CUE at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and Halakasha at the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg.