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Sasol New Signatures 2015 Finalists

Posted on 7 September 2015

The finalists of the 2015 Sasol New Signatures Competition were Nelmarie du Preez, Mareli Janse van Rensburg, Colleen Winter, Sethembile Msezane, Bronwyn Katz, Nazeerah Jacub, and Rory Emmett. View more about their winning works below.

Nelmarie du Preez
to shout (2013), Single-channel video with sound, 71 seconds

Du Preez/GUI* as a 'collective' presents a computer and Nelmarie du Preez as equal actors in a performance-based artistic collaboration. *GUI is the abbreviation for Graphical User Interface commonly found on any electronic device. In the documented performance entitled to shout (2013), these two performers re-interpret the work of Marina Abramovic and Ulay entitled AAA-AAA (1978).

Du Preez pre-recorded herself screaming the word 'aaa' at different intensities, but here she is dressed as her male-other GUI (representing Ulay's role). These recordings are filtered through algorithms, which listen for intensity of sound-input volume. The 'live' shouting is firstly sent through a filter which records and shifts the pitch of her voice to a lower register in order to create a 'male' sounding voice. This audio is sent to the visualisation of GUI on screen and, through a set of instructions within the program, the forward and backward movement of GUI's face is controlled in relation to the volume of the recorded screaming. Therefore GUI's voice and movements are directly dependent on the volume of du Preez's 'live' shouting. When the shouting reaches a certain threshold the representation of GUI on screen begins to show digital 'glitches' while GUI's voice is also distorted.

This creates a continuous feedback loop by means of interaction between du Preez and GUI who aim to generate new meaning with regards to social constructions of the self and the other, and create spaces for 'bodies' to meet/collide.

Rory Emmett
Transcending, Single-channel video, 180 seconds

This piece comes as a result of a sitespecific performance/intervention at a loaded and contentious space in Cape Town. District Six, a former innercity residential area in Cape Town, South Africa, has been a desolate space since the events of the forced removals that occurred during the 1970s, under an unjust regime.

"Colourman," my avatar, activated the space by constructing a 2.1m x 2.1m wall there; he then plastered it and painted it. "Colourman" - a title for traditional artisans in the history of painting becomes a visual and textual pun, a play on the term "coloured man." The performance is done as this person "of colour" clad in paint, figuratively and literally becoming "coloured", a construction essentially.

The figure enters the frame and starts attacking the wall. Therefore the figure performs the painting process by deconstructing the colour field whilst remaining a painting himself. The gradual demolition of the erected structure makes the background more and more visible. The site becomes evident.

"Colourman" walks out of the frame after tearing the wall down, leaving only the rubble behind before the video fades to black.

Nazeerah Jacub
Identity origins, Paint on fabric (195 x 95cm)

Being a young Muslim female growing up in South Africa, I consider myself a hybrid of influences. On the one hand that of Indian culture, and on the other a practicing Muslim. I am intrigued by origins and that of pattern as it holds great importance amongst Indian females. Within this artwork I have used the representation of a carpet, a Muslim prayer matt (Mus'Allah). This carpet is something personal to every Muslim individual as it is used five times a day in prayer. Therefore the carpet appears used and is fading.

The embodiment of constant praying and usage is reinforced by the worn away piece of fabric that appears to be unraveling in certain sections. I have also introduced Islamic pattern in combination with Indian patterns as a means of embracing this rather odd identity. The medium in which the carpet is represented is through paint processes as a means of introducing the love for praying within a confined space and that of something which is frowned upon, so that the two may provide a compromise.

Mareli Janse van Rensburg
The final moments of Immanuel Sithole, Photography (54 x 102cm)

This work comments on the Xenophobia attacks, specifically the death of Immanuel Sithole, and how these media images of his death influenced me as an individual. I took the images of his death that were posted in newspapers and wove a mask with them, I then took 'selfies' with this mask. These selfies show how media is constructing the view of the public and how they desensitise the public against traumatising images. This mask shows me as an individual shielding myself against these images by totally embracing myself in them so they do no longer have an effect on me.

Bronwyn Katz
Grond herinnering (2015), Video, 228 seconds

Grond herinnering (2015) engages with my memory of place. In the video I perform the washing of my feet with soil from the part of the land from which I originate. I do this as a way of reminding my feet of where they come from. I perform childhood games I remember playing. These performances are done in the current space I occupy, as the remembering of my place of origin is only required outside of my place of origin.

Sethembile Msezane
Untitled (Youth Day), 2014, Photography (70 x 50cm)

There is a shift in awareness amongst the youth (15 - 35 year bracket) of South Africa where there is an attempt to transcend the legacy of apartheid and colonialism by transforming contemporary South African society through art, music and public debates - music such as the Rhodes Must Fall movement. As a woman born in the 1990s, I investigate myself in relation to space and time.

In The Public Holiday Series (2013 - 2014) my aim was to highlight the significance of black women in the South African (political) landscape by asserting my body in public spaces, as a living sculpture, through the process of temporary monumentalisation. This further alludes to women's unwritten (or limited) participation in the liberation of the country within memorialised public spaces by performing on South African (political) public holidays.

Historic events are contrasted with current issues in an exercise of memory, and through this process expose how history often repeats itself. For example, Human Rights Day in 1960 (previously known as Sharpeville Day) can be closely aligned with the massacre in Marikana (2013).

The characters I have created engage the significance of these holidays combined with similar western histories through iconic imagery, i.e. Lady Liberty that, re-imagine these histories within a global context, and include 'Zulu' motifs and dress, as these form a strong part of my identity.

Colleen Winter
PUPA, Paper and pins (13 x 35 x 13cm)

There was a time in my life when I underwent many changes and I needed to withdraw and re-assess all the values I had previously upheld. It was a time of great emotional upheaval and confusion. I felt as if I was inside a cocoon, and always held on to the fact that one day this metamorphosis would be complete, and I would re-emerge, equipped and empowered and ready for a 'new' kind of life.

Cocoons relate to metamorphosis and transformation. When a caterpillar spins a cocoon and pupates within it, it undergoes drastic changes, and becomes what I call 'cosmic soup'. All the life systems that enabled its previous functioning dissolve into an amorphous mush, and then, slowly, new systems begin to form and come together to produce a new entity. Many times I felt like this cosmic soup, and had to wait it out until the process, often painful and difficult, was over.

My artwork is a response to this experience of transformation and to the ongoing changes in one's life.

The Sasol New Signatures exhibition runs from 3 September - 4 October 2015 at the Pretoria Art Museum.

Images and text courtesy of Sasol.

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