Friday, 17 March 2017

Fine Carnival Art

Superdry will be in the Cape Town Carnival tomorrow and I am beyond excited.
Partly because I have only moved to Cape Town a few years ago, and I feel so honoured to have one of my artworks included in such an incredible event that I feel really reflects the creative vibrancy of the mother city.
It makes me feel included in a group so filled with creativity that extends beyond the parameters of fine art and what fine art could be.

Images below are from Cape Town Carnival in the past 

Then secondly because it is my artwork in a CARNIVAL!
I will never forget the first (and only) time I was at a Carnival.
My mom took us to Northcliff Corner in Johannesburg to view the University of Johannesburg (then RAU) floats the students built as part of their first year celebrations.
The best and only way I can translate the experience I had (I must have been around 7 years old) was like being Alice in Wonderland.
It was like I was living a dream.
I loved them!
The animals were my best – I particularly remember this huge pink elephant with moving ears – like Dumbo – but HUGE!

 How adorable is this pink hippo!

Many years later I would work in an office in Brixton Johannesburg and drive past the yard where the students would park some of these floats after the event.
I would always feel a sense of nostalgia – as if I want to have been part of creating them or at the very least see them in the parade.
Needless to say, I never thought the day would come that I could have my own artwork in the parade.
In fact, I feel even more privileged as an artist to have the opportunity to show my artwork in this setting.

Art – and what is considered ‘high art or fine art’ (there should be no such terminology in (my opinion) btw) does not allow really to be paraded in a ‘carnival’ – as if the sense of fun/celebratory  the word ‘carnival’ signifies dampens the ‘meaning’ or ‘conceptual thought behind an artwork on display in a carnival setting.
This perhaps is to me the most exciting concept within art practice that I would like to eliminate by exploring these ‘boundaries’ the ‘artworld’ (I really dislike this term too ;) sets.
Not only is Superdry according to me a conceptually sound art piece, but it challenges the ‘meaning’ of art on more than one level.
In my opinion (and certainly applied to my art practice) Fine Art is not something that should only be confined by being displayed in high end galleries with large price tags to an elite few – art can be both celebratory, uplifting and meaningful.
Superdry is an actual artwork and at the same time it is a non-profit ‘charity’ that aims to free captive Whales.
I would lie if I say it is not challenging to blur the lines between what is considered ‘fine art’ and what not, the industry is tough and the critics even tougher.
I do feel like Superdry is my very first artwork that very directly aim to question these elitist values the ‘artworld’ sets.
When meeting with Monique – creative mega mind behind Afrikaburn re Superdry being at the festival (Afrikaburn being the patrons), we discussed just how dirty the whale/s will get with people running through the water he will be spraying and then lying and climbing on him full of desert sand – I mentioned that I would take my wet/dry vacuum cleaner and hoover him daily.
Monique burst out laughing, saying she can’t wait to take pictures of me hoovering the massive 9m life size Orca in the desert… This made me realise that even if something is serious – if the underlying meaning or drive behind something such as an artwork is so intense one can barely deal with it, art can be something that creates change by making things ‘lighter’ and more digestible – art in this way has the power to manipulate emotion in order to create meaning that in turn could create change.

Very keen to get a little hoover like Hetty in the spirit of the Pink Elephant at my first Carnival ;) 

Superdry creates meaning beyond the confinement of what a piece of fine art’s meaning should be – it is alive – it has the potential to grow, it can both mentally and physically challenge in a way that can perhaps even change lives (Animal lives too). In this way it is an artwork that sets an example to me of just how free my artworks can be.

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