Fathom | RHE Water Show | March 2021

Jeremy Wafer / Gerhard Marx / Sue Williamson / Kiluanji Kia Henda / Alfredo Jaar / Dor Guez / Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum 25 March - 30 May 2021 Goodman Gallery, Cape Town

Fathom /ˈfað(ˈ)m/
(noun) a unit of measurement of the depth of water.
(verb) an attempt at making sense of something difficult to comprehend.

Goodman Gallery is pleased to announce its participation in Galleries Curate: RHE, the first chapter of a collaborative exhibition and online platform that brings together twenty one galleries from across the globe. Water, a universal and unifying subject matter, is the basis and starting point for each of the participating galleries’ exhibitions.

Fathom, Goodman Gallery’s contribution to RHE, takes the form of a group exhibition of artists working across a range of media including collage, land-based intervention and sensory installation. The coastline, seen here as both a physical and symbolic framework, forms the vantage point and undertow of the exhibition. As the intersection between land and sea, the coastline represents both a territoriality, and a boundlessness. Inscribed with stories that bear histories of occupation and freedom, coasts are loaded with cultural significance. As a counterpoint, they also appear to be infinite, extending beyond the horizon.

Alfredo Jaar’s Searching for Spain (2012) reflects the unprecedented immmigration crisis of our time. Jaar photographed the ocean from the viewpoint of an abandoned palace in Algiers, the capital city of Algeria. The palace, today a hiding place for immigrants before a journey across the Meditteranean, faces the direction of Spain. Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum’s Monolith III is a drawing of a landscape that appears simultaneously imaginative and representational. A precipitous mountain range is delicately mapped along a coastline, enclosing a large polyhedron shape. Beneath the surface and within the body of this central structure are visible traces of pentimenti.

Kiluanji Kia Henda finds a point of contact between an imagined coastal landscape, and a geopolitically laden site. Mare Nostrum (Black Birds), 2019 is an assemblage of black and white inkjet prints, depicting the expansive salt piles in Arles, extracted from the Mediterranean Sea. Historically, the Mediterranean is a site of development for civilizations and solidarity between different cultures. It is also a place of death and disappearance. Kia Henda intervenes with sections of the salt reserves by covering them with a large black sheet. Photographed at varying angles and distances, the sheet appears and disappears, an abstract form that migrates across the horizon.

Through a physical process of fragmentation, migration and collage, Gerhard Marx disrupts the boundaries and hegemonic claims inherent in maps, that allow for a consideration of landscape as social construction. Particles (2020), continues Marx’s engagement with discarded and decommissioned Cartographic Archives, where maps are incrementally cut loose from their original purpose and reassembled into a new and immeasurable spatial imaginary. Within the restrictive surface-area of each canvas, Marx sets himself the task of exploring the possibilities of describing depths, volumes and distances. Jeremy Wafer’s sculpture Fathom (2021), the exhibition’s titular work, is a thirty-meter length of rope upon which plugs of lead are cast in one-meter intervals. The work references a sounding line, a length of gradated line with a lead weight that is cast into water to measure its depth. Fathom is part of a series of ideas Wafer is currently working with that reflect on burials at sea.

Messages from the Atlantic Passage VI (2017), by Sue Williamson, is a large-scale installation based on the accumulated records from both sides of the Atlantic, during the late history of slavery in the 19th century. Suspended from the gallery’s ceiling, engraved glass bottles and fishing nets fall into a pool of water, representing specific voyages from West Africa across the Atlantic.

Dor Guez’s Letters from the Greater Maghreb (2020) will be featured in the online presentation of the exhibition. Born into a family of Palestinian and Tunisian Jews, Guez explores chapters of his own layered history to expose connections and subversive undercurrents. In the work, Guez draws on a precious manuscript, handwritten by his grandfather, in Judeo-Tunisian Arabic. After escaping concentration camps in Nazi-occupied Tunisia, Guez’s grandparents immigrated to Israel. During the arduous journey through the Meditteranean, personal documents were damaged by water leaked from the belly of the boat. Guez creates enlarged scans of the ink soaked pages, bringing the meaning of the original words simultaneously closer and farther away.

Artworks

About

Jeremy Wafer

Jeremey Wafer (b. 1953, Durban, South Africa) 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).

Wafer 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.

Wafer lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Gerhard Marx

Gerhard Marx (b. 1976, South Africa) develops his projects through an engagement with pre-existent conventions and practices. This process entails careful acts of dissection and rearrangement, which allow Marx to engage the poetic potential and philosophical assumptions of his chosen material, developing original drawing, sculptural and performative languages. Marx completed his undergraduate degree at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, UCT and received his MA (Fine Art) (Cum Laude) from Wits School of Art, Johannesburg.

Marx’s work is shown regularly at international art fairs, held in numerous public and private art collections and was included on the South African pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale. Marx has been involved in the making of numerous public sculptures, including The World On Its Hind Legs, a collaboration with William Kentridge (Beverley Hills, LA), Vertical Aerial: JHB, (the Old Ford, Constitution Hill, Johannesburg), The Fire Walker, in collaboration with William Kentridge (Queen Elizabeth Bridge, Johannesburg) and Paper Pigeon, in collaboration with Maja Marx (Pigeon Square, Johannesburg). In 2018 Marx participated in the third season at the Centre for the Less Good Idea with his project Vehicle, in collaboration with musicians Shane Cooper and Kyle Shepherd. Vehicle is scheduled to form part of the Holland Festival in June 2019.
He has extensive experience in theatre, as a scenographer, director, filmmaker and playmaker, including REwind: A Cantata for Voice, Tape and Testimony (directed by Marx, interactive film by Gerhard Marx and Maja Marx, composed by Philip Miller), performed at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank, London (2010), the Market Theatre, Johannesburg (2008) and the 62’Centre, William College, Massachusetts (2007).

Marx is a fellow of the Sundance Film Institute, the Annenberg Fund and of the Ampersand Foundation. He lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa.

Sue Williamson

Sue Williamson (b. 1941, Lichfield, UK) emigrated with her family to South Africa in 1948. Trained as a printmaker, Williamson also works in installation, photography and video. In the 1970s, she started to make work which addressed social change during apartheid and by the 1980s Williamson was well known for her series of portraits of women involved in the country’s political struggle.

Referring to her practice, Williamson says: " I am interested in objects, often very humble ones, and the stories behind them. I am interested in the media, in the subtext that runs behind newspaper reports, and in books which may seem mundane like a tourist guidebook. But most of all I am interested in people, in their stories, and in the exact words they use to describe their memories, experiences and expectations’.

Williamson has avoided the rut of being caught in an apartheid-era aesthetic, constantly re-assessing changing situations, and finding new artistic languages to work out her ideas.

In 2018, Williamson was Goodman Gallery’s featured artist at the FNB Joburg Art Fair, where she exhibited her work Messages from the Atlantic Passage, a large-scale installation of shackled, suspended glass bottles engraved with details taken from 19th century slave trade documents. This installation was also exhibited the previous year at Art Basel in Switzerland and at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India in 2018.

Williamson’s works feature in numerous public collections across the globe, including those at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA, Tate Modern, London, UK, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA, Wifredo Lam Centre, Havana, Cuba, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa, and Johannesburg Art Gallery, South Africa.

Williamson has received various awards and fellowships such as the Bellagio Creative Arts Fellowship 2011, Italy, Rockefeller Foundation, the Visual Artist Research Award Fellowship 2007, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA and the Lucas Artists Residency Fellowship 2005, Montalvo Art Center, California, USA.

Sue Williamson lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa.

Kiluanji Kia Henda

Kiluanji Kia Henda (b. 1979, Luanda, Angola) employs a surprising sense of humour in his work, which often hones in on themes of identity, politics, and perceptions of post-colonialism and modernism in Africa. Kia Henda brings a critical edge to his multidisciplinary practice, which incorporates photography, video, and performance. Informed by a background surrounded by photography enthusiasts, Kia Henda’s conceptual-based work has further been sharpened by exposure to music, avant-garde theatre, and collaborations with a collective of emerging artists in Luanda’s art scene. Much of Kia Henda’s work draws on history through the appropriation and manipulation of public spaces and structures, and the different representations that form part of collective memory, in order to produce complex, yet powerful imagery.

Kia Henda has had solo exhibitions in galleries and institutions around the world. His work has featured on biennales in Venice, Dakar, São Paulo and Gwanju as well as major travelling exhibitions such as Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design and The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory revisited by Contemporary African Artists. In 2019, Kia Henda’s work was acquired by Tate Modern in London, and he was selected to participate on the Unlimited sector at Art Basel. In 2020 Kia Henda will be shown at the MAN Museo d’Arte Provincia di Nuoro in Italy, marking his first major solo exhibition in a European museum.

Kia Henda currently lives and works between Luanda and Lisbon.

Alfredo Jaar

Alfredo Jaar (b. 1956, Santiago, Chile) is an artist, architect, and filmmaker who considers social injustices and human suffering through thought-provoking installations. Throughout his career Jaar has used different mediums to create compelling work that examines the way we engage with, and represent humanitarian crises. He is known as one of the most uncompromising, compelling, and innovative artists working today.

Through photography, film and installation he provokes the viewer to question our thought process around how we view the world around us. Jaar has explored significant political and social issues throughout his career, including genocide, the displacement of refugees across borders, and the balance of power between the first and third world.

Jaar’s work has been shown extensively around the world. He has participated in the Biennales of Venice (1986, 2007, 2009, 2013), Sao Paulo (1987, 1989, 2010) as well as Documenta in Kassel (1987, 2002).

Important individual exhibitions include The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (1992); Whitechapel, London (1992); The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1995); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1994);The Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome (2005) and The Nederlands Fotomuseum (2019). Major recent surveys of his work have taken place at Musée des Beaux Arts, Lausanne (2007); Hangar Bicocca, Milan (2008); Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlinische Galerie and Neue Gesellschaft fur bildende Kunst e.V., Berlin (2012); Rencontres d’Arles (2013); KIASMA, Helsinki (2014); and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK (2017).

The artist has realised more than seventy public interventions around the world. Over sixty monographic publications have been published about his work. He became a Guggenheim Fellow in 1985 and a MacArthur Fellow in 2000. He was awarded the Hiroshima Art Prize in 2018, and has recently received the prestigious Hasselblad award for 2020.

His work can be found in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art and Guggenheim Museum, New York; Art Institute of Chicago and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; MOCA and LACMA, Los Angeles; MASP, Museu de Arte de São Paulo; TATE, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Centro Reina Sofia, Madrid; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; MAXXI and MACRO, Rome; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlaebeck; Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art and Tokushima Modern Art Museum, Japan; M+, Hong Kong; and dozens of institutions and private collections worldwide.

The artist lives and works in New York, USA.

Dor Guez

Dor Guez’s artistic practice is at once forensic and personal. It culminates in installations of found objects as well as deeply textured “scanograms,” a term he uses to describe a unique digital imaging process. Born into a blended family of Palestinians and Tunisian Jews, Guez explores chapters of his own layered history to expose the hidden connections, subversive undercurrents, and present-day contexts of his family’s unique story, and that of the region he comes from. Oftentimes the point of departure is a seemingly modest treasure from the family archive—a vintage wedding photograph, a dress-maker’s pattern, or a notebook written in an ancient Judeo-Arabic dialect. Yet for Guez such relics are the stuff of expansive possibility.

Guez’s work plays on the tension between what one inherits—a language, a name, a place of origin—and what one reinvents over time. Stories are told and retold, and traces of the past are rediscovered, shedding light on little-known facts and familial chapters. One recent work, Letters from the Greater Maghreb, reflects a pivotal moment in Guez’s family history, when his grandparents—who both worked in theater—escaped from concentration camps in Nazi-occupied Tunisia and later, in 1951, immigrated to Israel. The journey was arduous and key personal documents were damaged by water during the trip. One of these was a manuscript written by his grand-father in Judeo-Tunisian Arabic, using what looks like a mix of Hebrew and Arabic characters. Taking the fragile pages of the surviving document and creating enlarged scans of the single sheets and sections, Guez intensifies themes of blurring and loss in the resultant prints, at once bringing the viewer closer to and farther away from the meaning of the original words.
This visualization of disappearance evokes several cultural shifts simultaneously, particularly relating to language; Tunisian Jews adopted Hebrew as their language when they moved to Israel, and Judeo-Tunisian Arabic has begun to disappear. Duplication and fragmentation thus reify the immigrant’s experience of doubling and absence. Speaking of the visual devices at play in his work, Guez writes, “The words are engulfed in abstract spots and these become a metaphor for the harmonious conjunction between two Semitic languages, between one mother tongue and another, and between homeland and a new country.”

Operating on multiple levels at once, Guez finds and resituates objects to reveal not only what from the past was lost but what has been largely forgotten or even consciously suppressed; the Nazi occupation of Tunisia, for example, is rarely addressed or publicly acknowledged. Yet his work allows these connections to emerge so poignantly because he cleaves so closely to the people whose lives they affected. In some instances his work quite literally fills negative space, as evidenced in his colorisation and scanning techniques. He also uses light boxes to exaggerate overlooked relics, heightening their graphic presence. Adapting the clean, sterile casework of museum display, he puts personal objects on view, drawing attention not only to their intricacy and fragility but also to their powerful hybridity as displaced cultural artifacts and postwar readymades. It is in this unclassifiable realm—between the personal and the social, the found and fabricated, the seen and obscured—that Guez’s work gathers its force.

Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum

Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum’s (b. 1980, Mochudi, Botswana) multidisciplinary practice encompasses drawing, painting, installation and animation. Her work alludes to mythology, geology and theories on the nature of the universe. Sunstrum’s drawings take the form of narrative landscapes that appear simultaneously futuristic and ancient, shifting between representational and fantastical depictions of volcanic, subterranean, cosmological and precipitous landscapes.

One of Sunstrum’s most notable projects in London came in the form of a 2018 mural which wrapped around the exterior of The Showroom. The work was dedicated to South African Novelist Bessie Head and formed part of the exhibition titled Women on Aeroplanes, curated by The Otolith Group, Emily Pethick, and Elvira Dyangani Ose.

Key exhibitions and performances include: All my seven faces at Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati, OH, USA (2019); Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, South Africa; The Wiels, Brussels, Belgium (2019); Kunsthaus Zürich (2019); The Nest, The Hague (2019); Michaelis School for the Arts at the University of Cape Town (2018); Artpace, San Antonio, TX, USA (2018); The Phillips Museum of Arts, Lancaster (2018); Interlochen Centre for the Arts, Interlochen (2016); NMMU Bird Street Art Gallery, Port Elizabeth (2016); Tiwani Contemporary, London (2016); VANSA, Johannesburg (2015); Brundyn Gallery, Cape Town (2014); FRAC Pays de Loire, France (2013); the Havana Biennial (2012); and MoCADA, New York (2011).