Imagine if you could recapture the sense of wonder, naivety and pure joy that comes with the freedom of childhood, liberated from the constraints of your adult life? Well, for a brief moment, you can, as Absa L’Atelier winner, Natalie Moore, invites you to do just that and lose yourself in her fairytale-like Sandman solo exhibition, on at the Absa Gallery this August.
Moore, a photographer and mixed media artist, won the Gerard Sekoto Award in the 2015 Absa L’Atelier art competition for her photographic triptych Once Upon A Time Jozi, which explored the universal fairytale in the Johannesburg context. Her prize was part sponsored by Alliance Francaise and the French Institute in South Africa, and included a three-month residency at the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris.
Sandman is Moore’s first solo exhibition, and is held at the Absa Gallery as part of her prize for winning the Gerard Sekoto Award. Dr Paul Bayliss, Absa Art & Museum Curator, says it is a standout exhibition that bears testament to the exceptional young female talent that is currently rising through the ranks in South Africa.
“The Absa L’Atelier art competition aims to unearth the freshest, most creative emerging artists. Natalie and her Sandman exhibition are proof of that. It’s very encouraging to see these young artists using the opportunities that are available to them. We are delighted to host such a dynamic young female artist at the gallery, especially during women’s month when the spotlight is on successful South African women,” explains Bayliss.
This time Moore explores the classic fairytale through the lens of a dreamscape. Sandman is a narrative akin to one’s dreams, where the storyline may seem fragmented and unstructured to the conscious mind, but natural to the fabric of a dream and the subconscious.
Moore says this lack of chronological order points to another notion explored through the imagery she has used – that of chronos versus kairos time. Where conscious time is perceived in a constant, measurable, chronological fashion (chronos), time in a dream (kairos) exists outside of this construct.
“In this age we are so dictated by linear time: never having ‘enough’ of it, always been ‘pressed’ for it, often working ‘over’ it, being ‘charged by’ it and being ‘paid for’ it (and not productivity alone). As society, we are the hamsters in the wheel, yet we never take the time to step back and look at the wheel itself,” explains Moore.
She says another aspect of the dream world is our inhibitions. “Nightmares are fuelled with fear but inversely, in a dream we seem to act and love without fear. I believe this is truer to our nature than the masks we sometimes wear in real life. This begs the question of how we define what is more real, when some aspects of dreams are more real than reality. What is oasis and what is mirage?” she asks, adding that the sheets in the exhibit are representative of the conscious mind and the desert, that of dreams and the subconscious.
The idea of the sandman relates to that of fairytales, which Moore says are familiar to all of us and, like the smell of rain or the taste of Zoo Biscuits. It transports us to a time that is all but forgotten – that of our childhood.
“That was a time when our minds were still open. Before we were conditioned to believe what we could and couldn’t do; could and couldn’t dare to dream. It is with these unconditioned eyes that I wish for viewers to engage my work. I want them to journey from being mere spectators of the story, to being in the story itself. My hope is to awaken in viewers, a sense of amazing possibility and imagination. When visiting the exhibition, I want them to walk in with reality, and walk out with their dreams,” Moore adds further.
She has constructed this fairytale dreamland through a combination of 28 photographic prints, and mixed media pieces comprising oil paint on photographic prints.
Sandman runs at the Absa Gallery in downtown Johannesburg from Sunday, 13 August 2017 until Friday, 1 September 2017. Moore will do a walkabout at the gallery and interact with visitors on 18 and 25 August 2017 from 1pm to 3pm, while Jenny Crwys-Williams will host a live Q&A session with the artist on Friday, 1 September 2017 from 8:30am to 10am.
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