South African artist Diane Victor, represented by Atelier le Grand Village, invited 1-54 to her studio in Johannesburg.
Diane Victor deals with the taboos of South African society, social and political life tainted with violence, corruption and social disparities. Exploring her anger, though images in various media such as ash, candle smoke or print, she represents the fragility and vulnerability of life, thereby attempting to raise awareness, combining aesthetic elements with uneasy content.
This work refers to the raucous children’s game of blind man’s bluff, where a masked or blindfolded individual runs recklessly around trying to catch the next player and transfer their ‘victim’ status to them. Crowds of unsettled people, their lives disrupted and disordered by multiple causes, frequent the news on a daily basis around the world and in South Africa too.
Current commotions across the world reflect these unstable times and disquieted populations and situations. These disruptions are caused by not only the Corona pandemic, which dramatically reshaped our habits and thinking, but also through campaigns like Black Lives Matter, a movement driven out of anger by the ongoing unjustified killings and harassment of black people in western societies most notably in the United States of America. In South Africa, the rise of the ‘am I next’ movement was a reaction to the ongoing femicide and gender-based violence that is prevalent in our country.
An increase in dissatisfaction and the disruption that results causes a destabilization of societies culminating in street marches and running battles with authorities. Groups of masked people (due to COVID 19) mill around in the streets their disguises reminding one of the children’s games played in masks at parties. The drawing refers, in a playful way, to the tradition of games and carnivals where the donning of a mask gave license to disruptive actions and provided an opportunity to behave out of character with impunity. Street marches and children’s games provide similar escape vents – places where freedom from social constraints and rules allows people to break barriers and social divides in a unified loss of order. Here the masked player blinded by her covid protection swings around wildly with a stick seeking a victim on whom they can transfer their status and guilt . This becomes a society engaging in a mad game of transference.
“In this drawing I make reference to traditional Christian imagery recontextulising it within a contemporary situation, – that of a waste reclamation site.
The deposition of the Christ – where his body has been removed from the cross and is being carried by his mourners is here reinterpreted as the slumped body of an older white man, carried by two powerful woman who have perhaps just collected him from the waste site or are about to dispose of him in it.
The drawing also makes reference to images of the Virgin and St Anne with the Christ child, monumental women who loom over the smaller figure, this drawing seeks to comment on the current deposition of the role and status of the white male in western society.
The two women, one caring her baby on her back stand in the desolate landscape of a waste disposal site surrounded by piles of unwanted items. Urban waste sites are places where the poor come to glean value from the detritus of an affluent society. These sites are often populated by human outcasts, feral animals and flocks of sacred ibis all competing in scavenging. The woman on the right who wears a resistance style beret and carries not only the child but also a load on her head, which seeps down around her like a punctured cloud. Women in poorer communities are often relegated to work as labourers, carrying, cleaning and collecting the waste and redundant items of others.
The figure of the naked man who is being carried, rather than eliciting pathos appears almost pathetic, an item to be disposed of, held casually by these woman his posture is reminiscent to that of the disposed Christ.
The role of the white male, in a changing world is being challenged; his traditionally assumed superiority is under question. The deposition of an ideology, currently under threat from all sides as to its historical status as the ‘pinnacle’ of creation”- Diane Victor
A selection of new works by Diane Victor will be shown at 1-54 London 2020 at Somerset House and 1-54 Online, Powered by Christie’s.