Exhibition – The Underground, the Surface and the Edges
Michaelis Galleries, in association with GIPCA, is presenting The Underground, the Surface and the Edges, an exhibition on from 15 June to 2 July.
The Underground, the Surface and the Edges is curated by Leora Farber and Anthea Buys. The exhibition includes works by the following artists: Berni Searle, William Kentridge, Steven Cohen, Anthea Moys, Stephen Hobbs and Marcus Neustetter, Johan Thom, Mocke Janse van Vuuren and Theresa Collins, Zen Marie, Maya Marx and Gerhard Marx, Nina Barnett, Minnette Vari, Die Antwoord, and Leora Farber.
More than merely the stacked silhouettes of a distant metropolis, a cityscape has a story to tell. It traces the movement of wealth and the distribution of resources in a city. It bears witness to its history and influences, and asserts the city’s aspirations to more wealth, higher buildings, and greater infrastructures. The Underground, the Surface and the Edges is an exhibition which plots a complex cityscape through a selection of video works by South African artists who are interested in the workings of African cities and the people who live in them.
Just as the screen enthrals the eye, the surfaces of a metropolis, whether gleaming or blighted, seem to promise the city dweller and the commuter opportunities, success, glamour, and urbane community. Cities don’t always deliver on their promises, however, and in many cases the fantasies projected onto their surfaces are at odds with the lifestyles of hardship, histories of exploitation, spatial improvisations and contesting economies that build cities from the (under)ground up.
This project took as its starting point the relationship between the surface life of Johannesburg and its historical underground spaces (both real and metaphorical), which exist largely because of the city’s mining origins, as well as its ‘edges’. The latter comprises a third realm that exists in-between the strata of the surface (the stratum of life, goodness, health and visibility) and underground (a catacomb where the dead, the corrupt and the ailed are hidden). The project extends this view to Cape Town and Dakar through works by artists who see in these cities something of the same complexity.
Before its showing at the Michaelis Gallery in Cape Town, The Underground, the Surface and the Edges was shown as a single-channel screening as part of the exhibition Afropolis: City. Media. Art at the Rautenstrach-Joest Museum in Cologne (January 2011).