Remembering / 2017
KZNSA Gallery, Durban
“A swelling of earth, a hollow or dispersed pile of stones that once marked a grave or embattlement, are the grammar of my landscape vocabulary. These vestigial mutterings of geography are the prompts that I respond to in making my work, a kind of interstitial speech, connecting the remnant to its repressed or forgotten source.”
The Body post 1982
“For me, this shift from out to inside is also a shift from a confident modern vanity to an imaginative language more medieval in structure.
Medieval in the sense that for the last four decades, since the identification of the HIV virus, many of us have been subject to irrational fear. Developing technologies for coping with these fears and finding languages for their expression and understanding, is the frame for much of my work.“
“I grew up in Luansha, a small mining town in Zambia and now live in Johannesburg, one of the largest of all mining towns. Perhaps it is the occasional shaking of the land, its stuttering as a shaft collapses or a plate realigns, or indeed the sudden appearance of sink holes, those most compelling of negative spaces that first made me curious about that other landscape, the underscape.”
“The underscape breaks surface in mounds of earthen matter strewn around our cities and towns. Brought up to the surface as the wastes of mining they are piled high to form mestapa-like hills. Ore, ground to the finest powder makes their astonishing bulk.”
“The ghosts of my youthful imaginings are joined by new ghosts, the ghosts of those made to walk up staircases bound and blindfolded, the ghosts of men murdered in ‘honour’ killings by their own families, the ghosts of those whose flight resulted in death rather than sanctuary, the ghosts of those stoned on pavements. These new ghosts, many of them unnamed and unnamable, are my companions, as I provisionally mark their passing with chisel or pigment.”
“Some love is never unconnected to stubborn connective skeins of opprobrium. Countering this opprobrium is the work of much of my art. I have maintained faith in love partly comforted by conversations with ghosts. I imagine that these fugitives cheer my kissing and coupling, and that all of us, alive, dead, or in limbo, know that every affectionate enactment is homage and re-inscription of centuries-old gestures.”
“My visual language owes much to Renaissance art.
I am fascinated by one of the illusions of that illusionistic language, the sense that bodily beauty, a beauty of surface belies and perhaps can stave off confronting the complexity and frailty of the interior body. It is that relationship, between the grace of exterior beauty and the visual languages developed for its expression, versus the linguistically less explored interior, that compels me.”
Clive van den Berg - Subsumed under a general history of the line by Nkgopoleng Moloi