Death and Dreams: How many Marikanas?

03 March 2015 - 02:01 By Shelley Seid
THE ANSWER MY FRIEND: Carol Brown's 'Blowing in the Wind' is on at KZN Society of the Arts until March 22
THE ANSWER MY FRIEND: Carol Brown's 'Blowing in the Wind' is on at KZN Society of the Arts until March 22

In South Africa, we still make the same mistakes and dream the same dreams, says Carol Brown in her curator's statement at the new exhibition that opens tonight at the KwaZulu-Natal Society of the Arts gallery.

Blowing in the Wind is South Africa's first curated response to the events at Lonmin's Marikana mine in North West.

"I'm an old Bob Dylan fan," Brown says wryly. "But it seemed very apt for what is happening here."

Brown followed the Marikana issue closely from the outset and met a number of the players. She was galvanised, however, when she saw the film Miners Shot Down. "It influenced me profoundly," she says.

On display on the ground floor of the gallery is a piece by Mary Wafer - the first person to create a direct artwork about Marikana - and a work in crochet by Fran Saunders, which is a tribute to the widows of Marikana and reflects the female perspective.

Jeannette Unite, who uses the debris of mines - silver oxide, platinum and gold dust - in her bold works, has an 8m painting on display.

Brown's interest in issues of violence, intolerance and exploitation did not stop with Marikana. She decided to explore the history of mining and is showing works from William Kentridge's 1989 mining films and some interesting collectables from the 1920s.

The exhibition goes further still. Society's obsession with guns and crime is a pervasive theme, says Brown, who has included an artwork that reflects on the Oscar Pistorius case.

Artist Andrea Walters has created a quilt out of Kevlar, the material used to make bulletproof vests.

"There is a long history of women dealing with issues through quilting but Andrea has done something different from anything I have ever seen. She has brought an aggression and masculinity by using Kevlar and making it so destructive. She makes a very powerful statement."

The exhibition takes a different turn on the mezzanine level. Here, John Lennon's Imagine quietly plays, and art expressing peace and hope dominates.

Derrick Nxumalo's 13m landscape with geometric patterns and bright blue sky is what Brown calls "a dream vision". Vuli Nyoni's Murmuration of Swallows - ceiling-to-floor banners of flimsy fabric - is another vision of hope.

You are offered a vision of a better and different world, where the absence of people suggests that nature can be a redemption, Brown says.

Brown, a former director of the Durban Art Gallery, has curated internationally and consulted to the Constitutional Court of SA Art collection, the Joburg Art Fair, the Moses Mabhida Stadium art collection, Durban's International Convention Centre art collection, Artworks For Change USA, and the French/SA Seasons.

  • "Blowing in the Wind" at the KZNSA Gallery, Bulwer Road, until March 22