The first Light Art Exhibition ran from 8 December 2018 until 31 January 2019.

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Curatorial Statement

Jay Pather and Vaughn Sadie

Light art installations are intractable and mercurial by nature. Transcending the confines of their materiality, they are defined more by what they choose to illuminate, reveal or hide than what they consist of. As we encounter these works, our gaze is drawn on an imaginative journey that encompasses what the light defines, extends, circumscribes or diffuses.

Some of the installations illuminate the experience of an ethereal sky or a still lake, some play on the ability to see or not to see. Some are whimsical and flitting, ironic, some may be glimpsed at from a distance and in passing, some may require more time. These experiences – of walking and pausing, catching a glimpse or settling down to absorb – invite us to be introspective, adventurous and playful in turn. Scattered across the Spier estate, each offer an opportunity to experience the complex, multi-hued, multi-faceted texture of our environment and ourselves – now lit, now in shadow, simultaneously. ~ Jay Pather & Vaughn Sadie

ABOUT THE LIGHT ART EXHIBITION

Each night from 10 December 2018 to 31 January 2019, visitors could experience a dazzling array of light and sound artworks throughout our historic Stellenbosch farm.

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1. Transparent Geometries

Caitlin Warther & Wendy Dixon

Transparent Geometries uses the simplest means of light and reflection to create subtly complex perceptual effects. The work is intended to provoke an internal dialogue between mind and body: “Why can’t I walk through that empty space? What stops me?”

Warther is an interdisciplinary light artist whose practice encompasses sculpture and photography in an ongoing investigation into what it means to inhabit space. She recently graduated from The Parsons School of Constructed Environments NYC with an MFA in Lighting Design.

Dixon is a designer and art director, who runs Dixon Design, a branding and design studio focusing on the design and curation of creative businesses and spaces.

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2. before dark meant home time

Koleka Putuma

Putuma’s poetry combines power with tenderness in pithy phrases. Her words are disarmingly direct and succinct and like the various examples of light art that surrounds the neon representations of these enduring words, their meaning lands much further than what they immediately connote. The bracingly taut metaphors that have been extracted from her poetry punctuate and settle, then ebb and flow around the works that they provide navigation for, drawing parts of this diverse range of works together.

Putuma has taken the South African literary scene by storm with her debut collection of poems Collective Amnesia. Since its publication in April 2017, the book is in its 6th print run, has been prescribed for study in South African Universities and named 2017 book of the year by the City Press and one of the best books of 2017 by The Sunday Times and Quartz Africa. She was recently recognised as a Rising Star at the 2017 South African Mbokodo Awards.

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3. 1914 (garden)

Samson Kambalu

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4. Time Piece

Samson Kambalu

These two videos, on loan courtesy of Scheryn Art Foundation, showcase Samson Kambalu unique approach to making films. The style Nyau Cinema is a fragmented kind of filmmaking that he came into contact with as a child growing up in Malawi. Public screenings of lively Hollywood action films on the streets of Malawi would entertain onlookers; reels of footage would be cut up and joined with other action sequences purely for entertainment. These choppy amalgamations of iconic Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris films left such a mark on young Kambalu that it is now a central hallmark of his work.

Kambalu works in London. He has studied at the University of Malawi and gained a doctorate at the Chelsea College of Art and Design. He works in a variety of media, including site-specific installation, video, performance and literature.

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5. In Sight

Lala Crafford

This installation consists of hanging, translucent, sculpted vessels. Visitors are invited to illuminate these vessels with a flashlight, creating shadows and reflections. Light becomes the medium that illuminates our perceptions of these vessels and their surroundings.

Crafford, an artist based in Pretoria, investigates the relationship between the visible versus the invisible, often using light, water and air in her installation art. She graduated for her master’s degree in Interactive Media from the University of Witwatersrand in 2017.

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6. wear this memory with me

Koleka Putuma

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7. A Calf, a Square, a Flower

Esti Kruger

“Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see.” ~ Rene Magritte

This work aims to express the fragility of familiarity. The old-fashioned floor-standing lamps reference the environment of a traditional household – one with Calvinistic values where the feeling of a distorted reality is often present. The façade of this reality is seemingly hidden in plain sight.

Esti Kruger graduated in Fine Arts at Michaelis (UCT) in 2014. She has been working commercially as a graphic designer whilst experimenting with textile as well as furniture design.

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8. Digital Parasites

Miranda Moss, Martin Wilson and Brendon Clack

Digital Parasites is comprised of a networked swarm of glowing, organic forms attached to bamboo trunks which are responsive to the viewer’s presence. While being a formally beautiful and experientially magical piece, the work alludes to humankind’s destructive effect on the environment and our fraught relationship with nature, highlighting the cost that technological progress has had on the natural world.

The piece is a collaboration between multi-disciplinary artist Miranda Moss, artist and electronic engineer Martin Wilson, and artist and designer Brendon Clack. The last multimedia installation Miranda and Martin worked on together, The Timid Wilderness, has been exhibited at la Gaîté Lyrique in Paris and Cinekid Festival in Amsterdam.

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9. VOX among the bamboo

Noël Labridy

VOX Cape Town sings five works that represent a diversity of choral styles – from South Africa, Spain, Iceland and beyond. VOX Cape Town is an innovative choral collective that spans musical history in its performances of cappella works, oratorios and local compositions. Founded in 2015 by John Woodland, VOX invigorates choral music to create intimate, immersive sensory experiences.

Labridy was born and grew up in Berlin, with a second home in South Africa. Over the last decade, she’s done video, motion graphics, 2D animation and composing.

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10. their tongues are burning in our mouths

Koleka Putuma

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11. Three Part Harmony

Roelf Daling

This geometric light-line drawing seemingly hovers amongst the trees surrounding a small, centrally located granite outcrop more than 500 million years old. The adjacent old oak tree nearby suddenly feels young in comparison while the age of the stars fits this timeline more comfortably. The work is a response to this almost sacred space.

Roelf Daling completed his Fine Arts honour’s in 2010 and a post-graduate diploma in Interactive Media Design in 2013. He has engaged in various projects, ranging from largescale light installations to community arts projects. He works in digital new media technologies but also focuses on the physical mediums of cement and mycelium.

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12. i wish you’d tell me soft words rn (part iii) and i wish you’d tell me soft words rn (part iv)

Brooklyn J. Pakathi

Most people act, speak, and engage differently online than they do irl (in real life). In this work, real text and online conversations submitted by a number of anonymous users through a sub reddit forum have been collected and archived with the purpose of sitting layered atop video footage of public spaces captured during the day and then again in the evening. These conversations zoom in on the emotional and psychological behavioural patterns reflected by the changing of day into night.

Pakathi is interested in the anxieties of being, the interconnectivity of the human condition as experienced through digital technologies, and the external reflections of our internal vulnerabilities. He explores these themes through video vignettes, digital observations, and photographic interrogations.

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13. A Song Made by Breathing

Anna van der Ploeg

Anna van der Ploeg is a contemporary artist from Cape Town working in paint, print and sculpture. Her work focuses on interaction between people and the complexities therein. She is interested in proximity; in the sense of individual within collective, and in what we choose to reveal of ourselves. Her works weave a narrative with figures in interplay in a theatrical landscape. Her parallel role as a beekeeper serves as research to her practice. This richly ritualistic tradition allows her to embody her work and mine the metaphors of the position – the keeper exists in relation to a swarm, a perpetual and delicate balance of power.

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14. Folded Skies

Counterspace and Stay Evil Kids

This installation captures colours of the South African skies – dawn, dusk, sunsets and is inspired by the iridescent light of our cities and landscapes. Sometimes the iridescence is heightened by the chemical compounds in our cities’ mining soils. The artists worked with the same pigment compounds (copper, aluminium, cobalt, ferrous) from these soils to create instances of South African skies – a snapshot of light conditions at different times of the day.

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15. The Tesseract: An Ordered Community of Tiny Lights

David, Simon, Antonia and Claire

Four dimensions: three of space, one of time – all filled with lights. Confined and bounded in their arrangements by a regular lattice, yet by their movements and arrangements the tiny lights transcend their limitations. Humanity can but aspire to follow their example.

Like the Tesseract itself, the collective which created it has four dimensions: David (on electrons), Simon (playing the symbols), Antonia (on the angle iron), and Claire (on abstract concepts). Together, they make things. Separately, they make things. Sometimes, it looks a bit like art.

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16. every entrance (we see) is fenced

Koleka Putuma

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17. Ever Tried. Ever Failed.

Dean Henning

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” ~ Worstward Ho, Samuel Beckett, 1983.

This work builds on more than a decade of Henning’s explorations in circuit bending and hardware hacking. Circuit bending involves taking an off-the-shelf electronic device (such as a toy synthesizer) and modifying it to do unexpected things. Hardware hacking is the creation of sound creation devices using electronic components. This often involves using these electronic components to perform tasks they would not usually be used for.

Dean Henning is an artist and lecturer based in Cape Town. His primary artistic interests lie in sound art, circuit bending, hardware hacking, live performance and composition. Henning has a Master of Arts in Music Technology.

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18. Written in the stars, as part of the Project for the Blind Astronomer

Berco Wilsenach

In die sterre geskryf (“Written in the stars”) was created by Berco Wilsenach in 2009 as part of a body of work called Project for the Blind Astronomer – an artistic investigation into different decoding systems with which our visible night sky can be mapped and explained to a visually impaired audience. The panels are lit from within, creating an effect of thousands of dots floating in mid-air.

The star maps’ information is written only in Braille. This makes for a limited experience for the sighted viewer, who can see the stars maps only for their superficial beauty. The blind person, on the other hand, has a more informative experience but cannot totally grasp the visual impact of the night sky. Both remain in the dark, frustrated by the lack a total sensory experience.

Through the metaphor of the blind astronomer, Wilsenach explores ideas around the access to knowledge through language and the significance of sight in the aesthetic experience.