With a title taken from the famous fairy tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes, Commune. 1 presents a group exhibtion of artist’s work woven together by the visual language of textiles. On history’s timeline, textiles have expanded beyond the necessity to clothe and have become symbols of cultural, political, economic and social importance.
They are used to identify, distinguish, subvert and reclaim, and have a widespread effect on South African and African art practise. Thematically, The Emperor’s New Clothes explores pretense, vanity, the appraisal of art, the consequences of ignorant conviction and satirises authority. Within this context, artists Dominique Edwards, Rory Emmett, Susan Greenspan, Bonolo Illinois Kavula, Olivié Keck, Namsa Leuba, Troy Makaza, Siwa Mgoboza, Simphiwe Ndzube, Zohra Opoku, Thabo Pitso, David Southwood and Lauren Webber present multidisciplinary work loosely responding to these themes.
Collectively, the photography and video work looks at documenting current day traditional dress, imagining a postcolonial future, the representative difficulties created by archival restoration and the powerful role fashion has on individual psyches. Expanding on this, the sculptures and installations draw attention to the textile industry in South Africa and consequent effects of Chinese neocolonialism, the banality and repetitive activity of human labour and the effects of wide spread Christianity on traditional African knowledge systems.
But he doesn’t have anything on! challenges both micro and macro concerns within the post-colonial narrative. It reveals how the personal is always political and attempts to dismantle collective prejudice which, stitched by time through an oppressive and exploitative system, must be unpicked to move beyond ideological paradigms in post-colony.
But he doesn’t have anything on! is showing at Commune. 1 from 26 November 2015 – 21 January 2016.