Berni Searle

The four video projections and the series of photographic prints that made up Berni Searle’s solo exhibition at Michael Stevenson explore the theme of emotional and unstable geographies, both in terms of the environment and the geopolitics of global wandering.

Berni Searle, Looking-back 2008 Archival pigment ink on cotton rag paper Paper size: 112 x 154cmImage size: 102 x 144cm Edition of 5 + 2AP Photo credit: Tony MeintjesThe four video projections and the series of photographic prints that made up Berni Searle’s solo exhibition at Michael Stevenson explore the theme of emotional and unstable geographies, both in terms of the environment and the geopolitics of global wandering. Poetic and enigmatic, yet with haunting propinquity, the works link very local histories to global experiences of movement through representations of swirling or inhospitable landscapes and beautiful seascapes that hint at the underbelly of marine travel: slavery and conquest. In the beautifully subtle single-channel video projection Alibama (2008), the viewer hears the well-known Cape Malay choir song “Daar Kom Die Alibama” as the camera pans across Table Bay and Signal Hill. The artist is shown tenderly teaching her young son the lyrics to this song, but the view of Robben Island and the black streamers that blow in the wind are foreboding, suggesting a darkness that is also registered in a change of music. In a dreamlike sequence, the streamers – usually associated with celebration – fall into the water, and the black dye bleeds into the ocean, staining the pristine seascape. A small, red paper boat, suggestive of childhood innocence, drifts in murky, ominous waters…READ FULL REVIEW IN PRINT EDITION
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