Dineo Seshee Bopape, Video still from ‘is I am sky, 2013. Digital video, color, sound. Duration: 17 minutes 48 seconds. Video art. Photo: © Dineo Seshee Bopape. Courtesy of Stevenson Cape Town, Johannesburg
LONDON— When Southbank Centre’s Africa Utopia opens in August, art lovers will get the opportunity to experience the artworks of Dineo Seshee Bopape, one of the most exciting artists emerging from the vibrant contemporary art scene in South Africa today. In her first UK solo exhibition titled Slow-Co-ruption, the artist presents some of her signature artworks of experimental video art and sculptural installations of found objects.
Bopap’s artworks are characterized by a combination of sound and images merged into kaleidoscopic video art. The video arts are creatively incorporated into her sculptural installations to give them broader meaning and perspective. Bopape’s installations combine everyday materials such as timber, bricks, mirrors, screens, and plants to form loose yet complex configurations.
Bopape’s works for Slow-Co-ruption include a selection of her video art installed alongside a newly expanded sculpture conceived specifically for the Hayward Gallery Project Space. Encompassing the gallery space are artificial grass and other everyday materials with which Bopape creates an immersive environment capable of generating multiple meanings.
Although often described as playful, many of Bopape’s works are poignant and packed with deep meanings. In Same Angle, Same Lighting (2009/2013/2015), for instance, the artist investigates the notion of voyeurism, insidious surveillance and the incessant need to collect data on everyone in this age of terrorism. Composed of an assemblage of objects that includes a spy camera and a cluster of screens and monitors, the artist also brings to the fore the importance of preserving the environment by observing the consequences of human activities.
Everyday human experience and how they shape our lives informed Bopape’s Why Do You Call Me When You Know I Can’t Answer The Phone (2012). At the core of the digital video art is the idea of love and the complications that come with falling in love.
Bopape’s has had her own experience of how complicated love can be. Several years ago, her emotions boiled over into the exhibition space at Mart House Gallery, where she exhibited works that showed her pain, anger, loss, and lust after a nasty split with an ex-girlfriend. One of the paintings exhibited at the Mart House Gallery was titled You Fucking Horrible Horrible Horrible Bitch!. That emotional experience is also referenced in Why Do You Call Me When You Know I Can’t Answer The Phone. The video art examines the over-saturation of human experience and the fact that life can sometimes be overwhelming.
Alongside the art installations are Bopape’s Grass Green (2008) video art installations. Exploring the unrefined aesthetic of analogue video, the artist creates surreal digital montages accompanied by fractured soundtracks of music and sound effects. The disorientating, often out of focus, close-up of fields of grass bridge the gap between installation, adding deeper meaning to her works.
Curated by Cliff Lauson, Hayward Gallery Curator and Rahila Haque, Hayward Gallery Assistant Curator, Slow-Co- ruption bring to the fore the creative depth and impact of this South Africa artist. Drawing on her experience as a South African and experience of global issues, Bopape eclectic collection engages viewers with powerful socio-political and metaphysical notions of memory, narration, and representation. Her profound understanding of video art history makes this show very significant. The combination of video art, color, sound, and installations engenders connections between materials and human sensibility.
Dineo Seshee Bopape: slow -co- ruption, at Hayward Gallery Project Space from August 26– 27 September 2015