The exhibition will encompass painting, sculpture, photographic work, ceramics, wearable art, textiles and sonic pieces by artists from Southern Guild’s stable alongside recently joined emerging artists and invited guests.
The concept for Spring Awakening arises from the idea of spring as a time of intense ecological, physical and psychological change. Curator Lindsey Raymond invited artists to consider the role of renewal and growth in their work, as well as their opposite – loss and decay.
“In springtime, the future is a thing that gleams within palpable reach like a ripe fruit ready to be plucked from a tree. It signifies the starting growth of a new harvest, while occupying the liminal space between a year almost passed and a year yet to come. In this way, it is a time of reflection in as much as it is a willingness for a future ideal,” Raymond notes.
“This showcase beckons the more intriguing questions of what boils beneath the surface too. Spring is as much a rebirth as it is a resurrection; particularly in light of the pandemic’s dormancy of the past two years,” Raymond says.
“The emotion of pure and authentic happiness cannot exist without an experience of deep sadness to compare and define itself from – this is what theorist Jacques Lacan refers to as ‘jouissance’ — a drive to feel ‘superabundant vitality’ (Seminar VII, 18 May 1960) and to experience the excess of life beyond need. But, as Lacan cautions, this is also a ‘backhanded enjoyment’ (Seminar X, 23 January 1963). Jouissance ‘begins with a tickle and ends with blaze of petrol’ (Seminar XVII).”
This exhibition borrows its title from the play written by Frank Wedekind which tackles the fervent sexual desire and angst of four teenagers as they wrestle the difficulties of abortion, depression, rape, suicide and queerness. First performed in Germany in 1906, the play is acknowledged for the macabre spirit of comedy which underpins its tragedy. Erotic fantasies play out through hedonistic behaviours, revealing the rawness and unquenched thirst of sexuality and the curiosity, shame and vulnerability accompanying it.
Enriching the cross-pollination of art and design are a number of new and invited artists, including painter and ceramic artist Jeanne Hoffman, New York-based Egyptian artist Ghada Amer, photographer Lea Colombo, fashion designer Lezanne Viviers, printmaker and painter Shakil Solanki, ceramicist Martine Jackson, tapestry artist Talia Ramkilawan, furniture designer and fine artist Christine Jacobs, and jewellery designer and sculptor Githan Coopoo.
Notable works include a pair of large paintings by Hoffman that are site-specific in their reference of the gallery’s interior space, a trio of Brutalist-inspired ceramic sculptures by Jackson evoking the fierceness and tenderness of feminine power, and a series of sculptural ceramic totems by Shirley Fintz representing different elements of spiritual awakening. In addition, Mthatha-based artist and igqirha Sisonke Papu will contribute a healing intervention that includes a photographic work and “spiritual tech” soundscape, Justine Mahoney will show folklore-inspired figures in ceramic (rather than bronze) and Beninese artist Dominique Zinkpè will show paintings and assemblage sculptures made from carved wooden Ibeji dolls.
A number of Southern Guild artists will present work that explores new threads of interest. These include a ceramic vessel inspired by a traditional African udu drum by Andile Dyalvane, a dramatic chandelier made from glazed stoneware by ceramic designer Chuma Maweni, and a series of large enamel paintings on glass by Jozua Gerrard depicting scenes of intimacy and comfort between young lovers.