25th birthday celebration Festival
KKNK (Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees)
Oudtshoorn, Western Cape
21 - 27 March 2019
The work Bloot was produced for the Tribute/Huldeblyk exhibition as part of the 25th birthday celebration of KKNK, of which I was the invited curator. The exhibition paid tribute to well-known art lecturers and teachers all over South Africa. The exhibition engaged with the utopia in the context of education, and the role of university lecturers in shaping the future of the artistic output in the country. The work of some of South Africa’s most respected art teachers was shown. Over the last couple of years the Tribute artists have had an immense impact on those they taught, whether in terms of their approach to artmaking; their technique; their problem solving; their work ethic; or their wisdom and insight, which they shared altruistically. They shaped and steered the lives of others, changed the way their students look at and think about the world, and often put them on a life path never to turn back. The exhibition thus demonstrated a conceptual underpinning of teleology.
My own work Bloot (2019, translated as 'Exposed'), produced specifically for this exhibition, entails an engagement with dystopia. It depicts the destruction, annihilation and defeat brought on by the traumatic experience of the loss of my entire home during the Great Fire of 7 June 2017. The work is an interpretation of dystopia unfolding in the midst of the utopian environment of the scenic Garden Route in the Western Cape when entire suburbs were burnt down and more than 3000 people were left homeless.
Through the image of a flower and the title of Bloot (transl. Vulnerable) I wanted to show how powerless and exposed we are to the natural elements and how we live life mostly unaware of the authority of powerful Mother Nature. Dystopia is expressed through reference to the senseless, raging fire engulfing the landscape with dark grey smoke obliterating even close-up view; as such speaking to the surreal loss of reason during the event. Through the use of metallic surfaces, reference is made to the sublime of alchemical processes of material lost and transformed, natural elements transmuted into others, and the wisdom gained during the event. A sense of teleology is evoked through the flower rising from the ash, thus suggesting hope of new life arising from the dystopian disaster.
Elfriede Dreyer, Bloot, 2019