Can’t Fool Me Now is an exhibition of contemporary South African art showing in Berlin and curated by Maaike Bakker and Jayne Crawshay-Hall of Curated by_Collective. Both are practicing artists themselves who felt the need to push the medium of ‘exhibition making’ further within a South African context. To do so, they set out to establish a platform where they could play with installation and hopefully inspire discussion in the way they select artists, hang work and market an exhibition. Can’t Fool Me Now merges poetry, GIFs, formal text and image. Both Maaike and Jayne feel that curating, or exhibition making, is no longer just a matter of hanging the work but rather a way of designing experiences – something that really needs to be experimented with outside of the classic ‘rules’ one often feels limited by when installing an exhibition. The intention is to be experimental, to push boundaries.
“Can’t fool me now is adopted from a song title. We felt the title contained a reflection of South African culture where we share the sentiment that we are ‘street smart’. South Africans are exposed to so much, good and bad, we have access to a different type of insight – and this was the kind of attitude we wanted the exhibition to portray” says Maaike. The duo strung together a few sentences expressing this notion and provided the artists with a composition of keywords and phrases, such as ‘un-tricked’, ‘being-in-the-know’ and ‘access to mute knowledge,’ in order to spark a response to the concept of the show. Aware that this was extremely open ended, they were not sure exactly what type of works the artists would respond with. “We told the artists our intention to install the show in Berlin”.
The exhibition is also a platform to debunk international conceptions of what South African art could be and showcase the type of eclectic energy that is represented in local art. Maaike and Jayne felt the diverse themes prevalent in the artworks in Can’t fool me now, coupled with their alternative approach to presenting an exhibition, would be appreciated by the bustling Berlin audiences.
Artistic duo Jana+Koos directly represent ‘un-tricked’, showing objects in a way that implies ‘you can’t show us anything we haven’t seen’. Skullboy similarly picks up on this ‘street smart’ attitude with a treatment that one can expect from layers of graffiti art. He plays with rhythms and assertive modes of mark-making, and embraces the contrast between structure and chaos. Nina Torr’s work presents a world within a world. It presents glimpses of the absurd or irregularities, which unexpectedly provides the viewer access to exclusive insight. Dalene Victor Meyer’s pieces experiment with the medium of printmaking, and explore the relevance of structures and processes. She manages to articulate this exploration visually, remaining undivided between chaos and structure. MJ Turpin also tends towards presenting a structure in his work, yet this structure is out of context which makes the system being presented irrelevant. The work presents an extract of a bigger system that remains inaccessible territory. In-so-doing he provides a kind of exclusivity and arrogance. Justin Dingwall and Dale Lawrence conclude the line-up.
Can’t Fool Me Now opened in Berlin on 30 January 2015.