20 Nov Featured: Dineo Bopape And Indulging The Poetic Elasticity And Materiality Of Things
Dineo Bopape is a Johannesburg-based artist whose work focuses on the ambiguous gaps between things – a fragmented post-modern experience, what she calls our “collective global schizophrenic now”. Dineo works in various mediums from video, to installation, to sculpture and performative situations. Her work engages the poetics of the performative (cultural) object, ideas of language, ideology, contemporary audio-visual culture, performativity and perception, and indulges the poetic elasticity and materiality of things (objects, space, event, memory, time…).
Dineo is interested in notions of ephemerality, disrupted narratives, performed stories and fragments of language, dismantled sites of memory, and temporal expectation. These ideas are reflected in her work in the negative spaces – the spatial relations between objects or between images and sounds within a video’s frames. She goes on to explain:
One of my primary concerns is how to tell a story, how to de/re/construct a story…how to tell an old story anew. How to forget, and how to remember. […] I am interested in video time and in some sort of a decay in linearity; in mediation and artifice; in things acting as things/things acting as props around which multiple stories dance/and are entangled.
Your installations are like fragments from another world. Can you tell us a little about your interest in metaphysics and if/how this influences your art.
There is a title of a book by one of my favourite ‘meta-physicians’- Archile Varzi, called “Insurmountable Simplicities”- what an aptly titled book…the contents too… but/ in other words I have some interests in the simple/big questions… death, life, space, nothing…time…, thingness-materiality etc. It somehow has to do with the performative within my installations… how things perform in space and in time, and what are those things – and can those things keep changing/change form/change meaning/ change location or not…how do meanings exist parallel to each other – or seemingly divergent ideas/stories etc. co-exist… How do things connect, meet – how does the story endure or not or morph…
things are closer than they appear – 2014. Mixed media. Dimensions variable
For your show at Stevenson last year you stated that you were continuing to work on “ideas of memory, time, space, narration, trauma, displacement, nonsense, etc.” Has this list changed since then?
I guess I continue to work on those things…. Although at the moment I am trying to be empty so as to hear…
Can you expand on some of these (and new) ideas a little in relation to your work…
This is kind of addressed in the first question… The metaphysical questions are perhaps ways in which to try to understand/come to grips with the world…the real world, the imagined world, the many worlds…. forgetting and remembering… so much of yesterday is saturated in today – how it continues without any clear ending sometimes… And the question is what to do with it? What to do with all the data? All the memory? Or non memory? And also things that have no language to describe them properly- things that are not really ‘things’…. And time and space are not linear ‘things’… somehow madness/mental states have always been an interest for me… logic…metaphor… But also citizenship or foreignness are some ideas I am thinking of…. And rules…
Stills from: is i am sky – 2013. Digital video, colour, sound. Duration 17min 48sec
How does a new work come into being? Do you start with a clear idea of the intended outcome, or is it more of a haphazard and organic process of discovery and creation?
It is usually haphazard…. A process of researching unrelated things…. Which sometimes come to my attention by accident… sometimes new work is a continuation of unfinished ideas from the trajectories of older works…. Research also takes different forms; reading, thinking/playing/testing…. Reading fiction also helps generate some ideas somehow…looking, boredom, window shopping (helps me think of others), travelling, playing…
Words, phrases, visual cues and found objects are appropriated in your work. Where do you source these from and what guides you in this process?
The objects could come from anywhere…shops – some are more common than others – bust most are common… the materials are almost easily available anywhere/everywhere – which also kind of speaks of our globalised world… a lot of things are made in China, and much of it looks the same around the world – well….in most/some cases.
but that is not the important part of the story – 2013. Mixed media. Dimensions variable [and stills from burning video]
Your installations convey the sense of meticulous construction and simultaneous random chance. Is this paradoxical ambiguity intentional? How does it relate to the themes and ideas in your work?
Hmmm…paradoxical ambiguity… (un/intentional) paradoxical ambiguity…. That is interesting… Ambiguity and paradoxes and chance meeting intentionality are also ideas that interest me… like playing with riddles, turning logic upside down…
What appeals to you about working across different mediums?
Every medium needs something else – a way of being/thinking/making that is different from the other… digital video editing is so virtual, the physicality of sculpture is more physical and meditative… but different from the physicality of drawing…which is more immediate.
How has living, studying and working abroad influenced your art making?
Not sure exactly…. But perhaps it has opened the way I make work, I definitely find it stimulating working away from home… although I am ‘nearsighted’ with my eyes – I do seem to see better or clearer from further away, questions beget more and more questions when I am ‘away’.
When you’re not making art, what are some of the things you spend your time doing?
I like to swim, I read, and watch films, I like to look at fresh fruits and vegetables, I like to eat and cook sometimes…. I am hoping to learn something new/something I don’t know yet…
When’s your next local exhibition and can you share any insights about it with us?
Not yet sure…. Been busy with this video – at the moment titled “because history has no vacuums” or something like that… it has been bothering me for a long time – and it remains unfinished, so I’d like to finish it and screen it… I have shown it to a few people – but I would like to show it to others…. and more – but it has not resolved itself yet….
See more of Dineo’s work on her blog: seshee.blogspot.com
Stills from: the problem of beauty – 2009. Digital video, colour, sound. Duration 7min 19sec
Stills from: grass green/ sky blue – 2008. SD digital video. Duration 6 min 52 sec, sound
Stills from: they act as lovers: microwave cosmic background: so massivethat its decay opened the ultimate hole from which the universe emerged:…effect no.55, 2 ends of a bent mirror – 2011. Three-channel video projection. HD video. Duration 12 min 14 sec, synchronised, sound, colour
All images ©Dineo Bopape. Courtesy STEVENSON Johannesburg and Cape Town.