Penny Siopis: Lasso

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PENNY SIOPIS LASSO


MICHAEL STEVENSON Hill House De Smidt Street Green Point 8005 PO Box 616 Green Point 8051 Cape Town tel +27 (0)21 421 2575 fax +27 (0)21 421 2578 info@michaelstevenson.com www.michaelstevenson.com

Cover Mate 2007 ink, oil and glue on paper 25 x 17.5cm


PENNY SIOPIS LASSO

20 SEPTEMBER - 20 OCTOBER 2007


Title page Lasso 2007 ink, oil and glue on paper 17.5 x 25cm This page Chill 2007 ink and watercolour on paper 25.4 x 25.4cm


L

asso speaks of the ‘poetics of vulnerability’. Ideas work

away from the image it shapes, but it can also give the image cogent form.

more by association than direct narration. In this, the

Colour is a seduction as much as the stain of experience, finding itself in

medium is as important as image or narrative.

the oddest of places.

A ‘lasso’ is commonly understood as a rope to capture

The associative qualities of the medium are perhaps less evident in

things, usually animals. It takes skill to handle. It speaks of entrapment.

the digital projection Pray. But for me, the artefact quality of the film has

A lasso can also be a noose, with equally menacing associations. But a

a strong emotional register. The celluloid of the old 8mm cine evokes a

lasso can offer something more protective. It can be a rope to rescue

missing human presence in its faded colour, flickering light, dust spots

someone or something from harm – from being stranded or drowning. In

and sprocket marks, a quality accentuated by the amateurish angles of

a completely different vein, in digital media a ‘lasso’ is a tool, a computer

the shots, the jerky camera movement and the fact that the film was

icon, to capture images to create new forms. These double-edged

literally abandoned – I found it in a charity shop. I don’t know who shot the

meanings of ‘lasso’ stimulate the way I try to figure vulnerability both

film, and whose life is reflected in it. It is the work and life of a complete

as painful and as a potentially transformative experience – it is often

stranger. But for all this I recognise things of my own in it.

only through the effects of our own vulnerability that we recognise the vulnerability of others. We live in turbulent times. The integrity of our bodies and souls

In making Pray I combined sequences of this found footage with found sound and found text. The sound is a fragment of deeply emotional Greek folk music. The text is shaped from lines from The Ultimate Safari, a short

seems challenged at every turn. We are prey to violence, disease, global

story by Nadine Gordimer. The story narrates the experience of a group of

conflicts. We are so thin-skinned. In Johannesburg, where I live, the

people crossing the Kruger Park to reach South Africa and fearing being

effects of violence weigh particularly heavily on too many of us. What we

eaten by lions. The narrator appears to be a young, vulnerable girl. I heard

don’t experience directly, we imagine. And imagination has its own way

Gordimer read this story in 1992 and it has stayed with me since. This

with horror, filling our minds with images that get under the skin of our

might be because the story is such a powerful evocation of the trials and

most intimate relationships. All these feelings lurk in Lasso, whether as

ordeals of forced migration generally. Indeed the group of Mozambicans

pure imagination or as references to the ‘real world’ through newspaper

in Gordimer’s story could be Zimbabweans today. But this could be almost

cuttings, medical journals and other media to which we might be exposed.

anywhere, and the lions could mutate into any number of mortal threats.

All reflect some kind of merging of personal and social vulnerability. The

I also have another association with this story that has helped keep

poetics to which I am devoted emphasises as much the materiality of the

it alive for me as an emblem of vulnerability. Not long after I heard

image as its content or concept. Viscous glue can drip in a way that makes

Gordimer read The Ultimate Safari, I discovered a lion had been killed in

the image – or person depicted – appear decomposing, coming apart.

the Kruger Park, and in its stomach was a little leather purse. The purse

Glue, tinged with ink, can completely create the image, bind it as idea, as

was empty.

in Mate, where Siamese twins are literally ‘glued’ together. Glue can also cover the image like a protective second skin, as in Cocoon. Paint can slip

Penny Siopis, Johannesburg, 2007


Bed 2007 oil on canvas 76 x 91cm




Monument 2007 oil and glue on canvas 200 x 350cm


Trouble 2007 oil and glue on canvas 150 x 200cm



Flush 2007 ink, oil and glue on paper 27 x 36cm


Melt 2007 ink, oil and glue on paper 50 x 70cm


Left Fever 2007 oil and glue on paper 23 x 27cm Right Pray 2007 ink, oil and glue on paper 25.4 x 25.4cm


Rush 2007 oil and glue on paper 25 x 35cm


Wallow 2007 ink, oil and glue on paper 25 x 36cm


Cling 2007 oil and glue on paper 14.7 x 21cm


Slings and arrows 2007 oil and glue on canvas 20 x 25cm

Submit 2007 oil and glue on canvas 118.5 x 88cm



Curl 2007 ink, oil and glue on paper 57.5 x 76cm



Limbo 2007 ink, oil and glue on paper 75.5 x 57cm


Left Flame 2007 ink, oil and glue on paper 30.5 x 41.5cm Right Swaddle 2007 ink, oil and glue on paper 25.4 x 25.4cm


Left Flood 2007 ink, oil and glue on paper 14.7 x 21cm Right Lull 2007 ink, oil and glue on paper 25 x 25cm


Left Smoulder 2007 ink, oil and glue on paper 25 x 25cm Right Spell 2007 ink, oil and glue on paper 25 x 35cm


Weep 2007 ink, oil and glue on paper 75.5 x 57cm


Tremor 2007 ink, oil and glue on paper 17.5 x 25cm


Left Head 2007 ink, oil and glue on paper 14.7 x 21cm Right Cot 2007 ink, oil and glue on paper 25 x 25cm


Cocoon 2007 ink and glue on paper 27 x 37cm


Break 2007 ink, oil and glue on paper 23 x 29.5cm

Love 2007 oil on canvas 91 x 76cm




Strip 2007 oil on canvas 91 x 76cm

Mate 2007 ink, oil and glue on paper 25 x 17.5cm


Left Slave 2007 ink, oil and glue on paper 25.4 x 25.4cm Right Mask 2007 ink, oil and glue on paper 14.7 x 21cm


Left Bound 2007 ink, oil and glue on paper 21 x 14.7cm Right Woe 2007 ink, oil and glue on paper 29.5 x 23cm


Pray 2007 digital video projection, sound duration 2 min 48 sec edition of 5



penny siopis Born 1953 in Vryburg. Lives and works in Johannesburg Graduated with a Master’s degree in Fine Arts with distinction, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, 1976. Postgraduate course in Painting, Portsmouth Polytechnic, Portsmouth, England, 1979 SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS 2005 Three Essays on Shame, Freud Museum, London Passions and Panics, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg On Stains, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg 2003 Shame, Kappatos Gallery, Athens 2002 The Archive, Tropen Museum, Amsterdam Sympathetic Magic, Wits Art Galleries, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg Pinky Pinky and Other Xeni, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg 2000 Fleshcolour, Gasworks Studios, London Zombie, Gallery in the Round, Grahamstown 1998 Charmed Lives, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg 1990 History Paintings, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg 1987 Pictures within Pictures, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg 1984 New Works, Gallery International, Cape Town 1983 Cake Paintings, Market Theatre Gallery, Johannesburg 1982 Cakes, NSA Gallery, Durban SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS 2007 Apartheid: The South African Mirror, Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona, Spain Bound, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, UK 2006 Migrations, Belfast Exposed, Belfast, Northern Ireland Heimat als Idee/Homeland as Idea, Basis Gallery, Frankfurt Second to None, SA National Gallery, Cape Town 2005 Out of Place, FLACC Centrum voor Kunsten en Kultuur, Genk, Belgium Etchings, International Print Centre, New York 2004 Arts Unlimited, Basel International Art Fair, Basel New Identities, Museum Bochum, Bochum, Germany Mine(d)fields, Kunsthaus, Basel Staged Realities, Michael Stevenson, Cape Town 2002 Kwere-Kwere: Journey into Strangeness, Arti et Amicitae, Amsterdam Group Portrait South Africa, Tropen Museum, Amsterdam

2001

1999

1998 1997

1996

1995

1994 1993

1990 1987 1985

Lines of Sight, South African National Gallery, Cape Town Africas: The Artist and the City, Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona, Spain La Mémoire, Villa Medici, Rome Truth Veils: The TRC Commissioning the Past, Wits Art Galleries, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg Liberated Voices, Museum for African Art, New York Democracy’s Images, BildMuseet, Umea Discoveries and Collaborations, 7th Fotofest, Houston 2nd Johannesburg Biennale, Johannesburg 6th Havana Biennale, Havana Contemporary Art from South Africa, national touring exhibition, Oslo Don’t Mess with Mr In-between, Culturgest, Lisbon Earth and Everything: Recent art from South Africa, Arnolfini, Bristol Eight from South Africa, Center for the Arts, San Francisco Beyond the Borders, Kwangju Biennale, Kwangju, Korea Black Looks: White Myths, 1st Johannesburg Biennale Siyawela: Love, loss and liberation in art from South Africa, Birmingham City Museum and Art Galleries On the Road, Africa 95 festival, Delfina Studio Gallery, London 5th Havana Biennial, Havana Incroci Del Sud/Affinities: Contemporary South African Art, 45th Venice Biennale, Palazzo Giustinian Lolin, Fondazione Levi, Venice Southern Cross, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam Absent Bodies/Present Lives, Leeds City Art Gallery, Leeds Art from South Africa, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford Culture in Another South Africa, CASA Foundation and Anti-Apartheid Movement, Oosterkerk, Amsterdam Tributaries, Museum Africa, Johannesburg; toured West Germany

SELECTED AWARDS & RESIDENCIES 2006 Ampersand Foundation Fellowship Residency, New York 2001 Alexander S Onassis Foundation Fellowship, Greece 2000 Swedish Exchange Fellowship, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden International Visiting Artist Residency, Gasworks Studios, London Artist-in-Residence, Tropen Museum, Amsterdam 1998 Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship, Umbria, Italy 1995 Delfina Studio Trust Residency, London

ACkNOWLEDGEmENTS Special thanks to the Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, for helping to facilitate this exhibition.


Catalogue no 30 October 2007 Editor Sophie Perryer Photography Mario Todeschini Image repro Ray du Toit Printing Hansa Print, Cape Town


MICHAEL STEVENSON www.michaelstevenson.com


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