Spier Arts Trust
Union House Exhibition Space
26 August to 29 September 2021


… (to) cause radical change … by means of innovation.

Emma Willemse. Rupture X (photo credit Elizabeth Vermeulen)

Disrupt comprises an exhibition and sound performance collaboration between the conceptual visual artist Emma Willemse and the New Music composer Michael Blake. Willemse is associated with large scale installations and handmade artist’s books which have been exhibited in South Africa, Europe and Dakar, while Blake’s compositions in a post-modern aesthetic and a range of different styles have been played on five continents.

Willemse’s exhibition will incorporate her conceptual artworks exhibited at the 1:54 African Art Fair in London in 2018, which have been brought back to South Africa by Spier Arts Trust to feature in the exhibition space at Union House in Cape Town. The focus of the exhibition is her installation of a hundred and one handmade artist’s books. After witnessing this installation, entitled 101 ways to long for a home, Michael Blake wrote a New Music piece for prepared piano and harpsichord, accompanied by an electronic soundtrack of found sounds, which includes sounds of the books being “played”, recorded in Willemse’s studio.

The exhibition will run from 27 August to 29September 2021 and on 29 September 2021 Michael Blake will perform the 20-minute sound piece called Displaced. This will be the debut performance of this piece in the presence of the installation of artist’s books, whereafter the collaborative project will travel further afield in South Africa.

The combined visual and sound experience of the collaboration between Michael Blake’s New Music piece and Emma Willemse’s artist’s book exhibition endeavor to evoke various narratives of loss. The audience will identify the sounds that Michael Blake has recorded in the studio of Emma Willemse: the clatter of the opening and closing of the books constructed from parquet flooring. These have been integrated into the digital sound recording which overlays Blake’s playing of the prepared piano and harpsichord. The two artists share an interest in found objects; fragments and traces of those things that were left behind.

It can be said that the two forms of expression, visual art and music, have not often been brought together in this way before. Able to stand alone as independent manifestations, they are nevertheless more than the sum of their parts in a collective mode.

Emma Willemse. Ruin (2018). ArtistGÇÖs book, part of the 101 ways to long for a home installation


Emma Willemse. Suture (installation view)

By pushing the boundaries of contemporary aesthetics, Disrupt seeks to investigate alternative techniques to convey narratives and spark new conversations on collaboration in the arts field.

Performance by Michael Blake at Union House Exhibition Space
29 September 2021
Performance of Displaced by Michael Blake in the presence of the visual art exhibition

Emma Willemse
Michael Blake


Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!