Writing Art History Since 2002

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Hidden speakers fill a cavernous space with incessant moaning, allowing little or no reprieve from the clusters of plastic bags, belt buckles, netting, curtaining, domestic objects and girls toys that make up Dineo Bopape’s installation, the first in a series of four by young, emerging artists selected by the KZNSA. Titled keep it to yourself, Bopape’s cluttered maze, made up of trivial and unassuming objects, taped and strapped into position, filling corners and joiningfloor to ceiling, suggests a very laboured, private obsession.Bopape’s preoccupation with the intimate secrets vested in everyday objects, and her deeper obsession with the untold personal histories they carry, makes it almost impossible to intellectually navigate her cluttered installation. Not only do her disconcerting collection of objects confound fixed interpretation, it is almost as if the white wash, tinged with pink and forming a backdrop to the show, is intended to hide the details even more.The installation includes a false wall, which had been punctured, allowing the viewer a chance to look through the collected junk at an ambiguous projection. It shows the obsessive, ritualised washing of hands in blood. After some further exploring of the installation, the source of the moaning is revealed: a bound mattress. It speaks of visceral pleasures experienced in the confines of home behind netted curtains, and becomes uncomfortable to listen to.Clearly Bopape wants to disclose something in this carefully crafted and intimate space. Limiting one’s experience of her work to locating the source of the moaning will unavoidably render her work unfulfilling. The source of the moaning is merely a subterfuge.By grafting layer over layer, rubbish bags over ritual projection, Bopape intentionally misleads her viewer into believing that this experience will deliver a tangible or resolved commentary. Instead of resolution the viewer is left to contemplate the ambivalent smile appearing on a television monitor, as too several pairs of starched white panties, which hover in one of the narrow passages. The cotton fabric voiles, reminders of lost innocence, point to how Bopape perpetuates a mysterious and aloof sexuality in her work while also revealingthe harboured vulnerability that it so closely protects.Vaughn Sadie

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