news and residencies

The Rybon International Artists Workshop – Tehran, Iran

October 2012

In October last year I spent two weeks in Tehran for their first ever international artists workshop/residency. From what I heard from the organisers and taking into account the current situation there, this will probably be the last such workshop for a very long time. There was one artist from South Africa, and one from India, China, Jordan and Lebanon respectively and then 6 artists from Iran. Did I mention that I am Jewish?

I went there without any ideas regarding what I would make. The Tehran streets are filled with martyr murals funded by the state which celebrate soldiers (fictional or real) who gave their lives for the regime especially in their wars with Iraq. It’s such a violent form of communication. During my presentation as I spoke about the idea of signals in my work and the hidden significance embedded within the static noise between television channels I had the idea of making a large wall mural to stand as a marker of the filters and blockages and isolationism that is the government’s policy in Iran. Their internet is severely limited and many sites are blocked and filtered. Nevertheless, the people have ways of skirting these blockages so they can participate in international society especially in terms of social networking. The first work I made was called No Signal, Tehran 2012 (see below).

After the peoples uprising against Ahmadinejad, his government and the Mullah regime post the elections in 2009 and the subsequent clamp down and violent response from the government (including public executions), it felt to me like the people were beaten and recovering but still with the same anger and resentment; that they were sleeping or hiding and licking their wounds but waiting. My second work incorporated the work of one of the Iranian artists at the workshop – Baback Kazemi who gave each of the international artists a photograph of a pillow on which we were to make our own intervention. I tore the pillow image up and used them as part of a second wall mural which can be seen below. This work is called Torn from Sleep, Tehran 2012.

It was an incredible experience to witness how certain idioms and iconography that I use here in South Africa to make work about the origins of life were profoundly transformed by a radical change of context.

Nirox Foundation – The Cradle of Humankind outside Johannesburg, South Africa

June 2012

This large body of monoprints was started at the Nirox Foundation residency in The Cradle of Humankind in June 2012. I was there on a residency for 3 weeks and Bevan de Wet from the Artist Proof Studio joined me for a week armed with a portable printing press and more paper than I felt comfortable with. Earlier in the year I had worked with Bevan on 5 etchings which had generated a large number of process prints and reject prints which we decided to resuscitate for this project by using them as the background over which we would layer some of the 12 new linos that I had cut at Nirox. In addition we embarked on the ambitious task of converting 120 pieces of cut paper into unique monoprints.  Our week at Nirox turned out to be only the very beginning of a collaborative process which continued through July, August and September with some prints making their way through the printing press up to six times. The challenge was to maintain a complexity of depth and mark making within the unforgiving confines of the lino plate designs without overworking them. When I cut the plates I had only a very vague idea about how the layers would interact and so each stage was filled with surprising discoveries and limp disappointment. Remarkably, I only remember two occasions where the result was such an affront to our aesthetic sensibilities that we felt we owed it to our friends and families to tear up the print.

To view artwork created at Nirox, see the Exhibitions page.


Special thanks to Bevan de Wet, Janet Watts and Artist Proof Studio