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Contemporary installations layered with stories

An immediate, fleeting look through the Unisa Space Art Gallery and you see giant men made from steel and wood, bright furniture pieces falling apart, a forest of hanging trees, a bed covered with sanitary towels, naughty images of a half-naked man and a tunnel to crawl into. And with these mesmerising sights, the Unisa Visual Arts Gauteng Graduate Show opened on 1 December 2012.

Besides these obvious visual elements, each installation has various layers, telling stories about crime, cultures, belief systems, post-war trauma, hoarding, global warming, city decay, social commentary through social networking and infertility. All bodies of work comment on contemporary relevant environmental, psychological and social issues, and visually the work are in conversation with each other.

Engela van der Hoven, Marinda Thomas, Roxane Wilson, Estelle Henery, Inette Taylor, Anje Schoeman, Suzanne Shaw, Graeme Watt, Rosa Snyman and Janette Vorster are the nine Unisa Visual Art students who knew exactly what they wanted to visually articulate through the exhibition.

“Studying visual art at Unisa is a very rewarding process which takes time, a lot of thinking and a great deal of determination, guts and talent. It provides students with the process of discovering and rediscovering who they are, what they want, what they are good at and where they are heading.  Loaded with great expression, this graduate exhibition provides various interesting viewpoints, statements and retrospect,” said Nathani Lüneburg, coordinator of the 4th-level visual art programme at Unisa.

The 4th-level visual art group also includes six students from Cape Town and one from Durban. Among these 16 students there has been a 100% pass rate, 7 students received distinctions and 4 received an average of 70+.  Three awards were granted this year including prize money for the top student of 2012 and a merit certificate for the runner up.

Estelle Henery received the merit certificate and the top student award was shared among two students who had the same mark –  Zyma Amien from Cape Town and Engela van der Hoven from Gauteng.

Engela van der Hoven’s ‘Dispersion’ deals with a process involving deconstruction, reflection, retrospect, recycling and reconstitution

‘Documenting the Instogram’ by Graeme Watt takes one into the contemporary field of social commentary

Within the field of psychological space, Inette Taylor’s installation reflects her own experience of being a psychologist for over 27 years

Social commentary on belief systems is detectable in Marinda Thomas’ installation ‘Gaurd (God) the Machine’

Roxane Wilson’s unique installation deals with the social issue of human trafficking and presents this trade as a commercial product to invest in

Suzanne Shaw’s whimsical installation of hanging trees serves as an acknowledgement to all soldiers who gave their lives in the South African Border War, since she herself has been affected as a sympathetic viewer

* Article by Kirosha Naicker

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