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Johan Thom & Willem Boshoff Elephant Peepsite, 2014. Etching using elephant skull with lines made up of alphabet beads on extruded acrylic super 220 x 127.5cm

Johan Thom & Willem Boshoff Elephant Peepsite, 2014. Etching using elephant skull with lines made up of alphabet beads on extruded acrylic super 220 x 127.5cm

Prints from The Animal Series
@ The Collectors Room, Fried Contemporary
Johan Thom with Willem Boshoff, Diane Victor, David Koloane and Bevan De Wet.

Opens Saturday 24 October @ 12 – 2pm
Concludes Saturday 21 November 2015 @ 14:00

Fried Contemporary Art Gallery is pleased to present a body of work by Johan Thom created at the Nirox Foundation in 2014 and exhibited at its Project space in the Maboneng precinct, Johannesburg. The series of prints, titled: ‘Prints from the Animal Series’ is a series of etchings produced by Thom in collaboration with a number of well-known artists.

More info here: Fried Contemporary

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ILLUMINATION

Catch a screening of my some of my video artworks at 1:54 in London.

Sunday 18 October 2015, Somerset House.

12.00 – 13.00  Works by Theo Eshetu and Johan Thom

More info available here: http://1-54.com/london/forum/

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  • Johan Thom Terms of Endearment 2007 Video still © Johan Thom, courtesy the artist

Little known outside of South Africa, the Johannesburg Free Filmmakers Cooperative was a loose association of filmmakers in the 1980s, among them artist William Kentridge. The very act of filmmaking as a vital outlet for self-expression caused Kentridge to recognise that ‘you yourself will be the film and the film will always be you.’ This three-day programme of screenings launches with Free Filmmakers’ experimental 1986 documentary and is followed by a selection of 25 contemporary artists’ shorts rarely or never before seen in UK. The Saturday and Sunday screenings will each culminate with artists in conversation, reflecting on the changing role of the moving image in art and how the medium expresses new subjectivities. The series demonstrates the substantial legacy of South African artists on screen.

Curated by Zoe Whitley, Adjunct Research Curator, Tate, supported by Guaranty Trust Bank plc, and Abrie Fourie, Independent Curator

Events in this series

The Film Will Always Be You
Friday 10 July, 19.00–21.00

The Film Will Always Be You: Points and Counterpoints
Saturday 11 July, 16.00–18.00

The Film Will Always Be You: Performing Selves
Saturday 11 July, 19.00–21.00

The Film Will Always Be You: New Subjectivities
Sunday 12 July, 17.00–19.00

Tate Film is supported by LUMA Foundation

This project has been supported by the SAUK Seasons 2014 & 2015, a partnership between the Department of Arts and Culture, South Africa and the British Council.

http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/eventseries/film-will-always-be-you-south-african-artists-on-screen

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Artec1

Fetish: Traversing the occupied body.

1. The dark mass inscribed:
“There once was a lady from Ongar”

We approach the rough hued designation ‘Fetish’ with inveterate apprehension. The term marks a disturbed frontier between inside and outside, self and other, an elemental antagonism. Like the object it too is pocked and pitted with our near desires, fears and denials. The “Stereotype [Fetish]… is a form of knowledge and identification that vacillates between what is always in place, already known, and something that must be anxiously repeated (Bhabha in Hook, 2005, p13.),“the correct German word for the vicissitude of [this] idea would be ‘Verleugnung’ [‘disavowal’]’ (Freud, 1927, pp153.). It is through the subtractive synecdoche that the fetish gathers an excess of signification, desire providing the surplus in value and, thus, fantasy fills the anxious abyss between the self and the ‘other’. And yet; “as a power that transfers to beings, objects and agencies, it is universal and diffuse but it crystallizes at strategic points so that its flux can be regulated and diverted by certain groups or individuals for their own benefit” (Baudrillard, 1981, p88.).

2. Colonising fantasies or minding the business of others:
“Who had an affair with a Conger.”

The transference of this agency to the human body and its activities was first described in proto-psychoanalytical terms by Alfred Binet. (1887). Freud’s ‘fetish’, drawing heavily on Binet, functions both by constraining anxiety [through the activity of fantasy/ the anxiously repeated] and breeding anxiety through instability at the level of identification (there is, and, yet is not a phallus). Different objects and associate sets of practices become fetishised; the fetish must, however, be a construct, a fantasy that is frantically reinforced. “(‘I know that mother has not got a phallus, but still . . . [I believe she has got one]; ‘I know that Jews are people like us, but still . . . [there is something in them],)” (Žižek, 2008, pp12). Žižek further elaborates when he proposes that the prevalent Ideological edifice requires the fantasy of the ‘other’, a simple and concrete image to
constrain/fixate the imagination on in order for the image to become a mobilising agency. This valorised parody of our pleasures, the fetish, acts as an obscene bribe that coerces our oppressive and repressive drives into action. Performing a miraculous/fantasmic act of shifting signification, through disavowal, the fetishised makes the unknowable instantly identifiable whilst maintaining and even accentuating difference.
The contemporary commodity fetish acquires its magnified value through an analogous repetitive chant. For Marx the consumer’s ‘needs’ are mobilized within individuals by the strategy of desire and “although the commodity takes the shape of a physical thing, the commodity form” has “absolutely no connection with the physical nature of the article. (Marx in Stallybrass, 2011, pp184). The fetishistic resides in the illusory excess, an ideological agency, and not in any intrinsic value of the ‘thing’. The human body itself is thus codified and commodified, reduced to an abbreviated sequence of values that do not reside in the body itself. “The makeup of beauty, of the erotic body, is a process of marking it, [through the addition of…] jewellery, perfume, ornament, or through cutting it up, the hair, the feet, the buttocks. (1981, pp94, Baudrillard cited in Dant, 1996, pp13). The body is offered up as a series of significatory values which ultimately constitutes the ‘fetishised’ being/object/agency. It becomes clear that our ‘fetish’ oversteps the simple historical limit of the object and our investigation points instead to a metaphoric condensation, a process of inscription; “after all we have a passion for the code.”

3. An occupied snarl.
“They said; how does it feel to sleep with an eel?”

As Bataille re/marks; desire is usually closely linked with terror, intense pleasure and anguish (1998, 53). The fetish as occupying force personifies a narcissistic fantasy that attempts to sublimate the ‘other’ to the self, a volatile ‘value’ freely oscillating between the religious, economic and erotic. Fetishism, thus, is a refusal of difference; and “a perverse structure that perhaps underlies all desire” (Dant, 1996, P10-11). The whole metonymic apparatus marks the colonist as it marks ‘his’ ‘savage’. “It orders the world around the coordinates of fantasy (or magical beliefs) it thus makes possible… to structure and stabilise a world of ideology.” (Pp26, Hook). The ‘semiotic fetish’ points a crooked finger at the anxiety of all
(travellers) explorers, agents of colonies and ideologies, as they meet themselves on the foreign shore of ‘difference’ and fearfully grasps at fantasies with which to fill the abyss between the known and unknown dimensions their own reflection.

4. Deteretorialisation
“Well, she said, just like a man only longer.”

Surely cogitation, and play around the discursive formula of fetishistic disavowal allows us to “come to terms with this surplus (or, more precisely, leftover) means to acknowledge a fundamental deadlock (‘antagonism’), a kernel resisting symbolic integration-dissolution. (Zizek, 2008, pp24) By imitating the libidinal ticks and taking our pleasure sans the horizon of prevalent arch-ideological meanings that they are attached to, we may, as subversives and artists, agitate the seemingly implicit ideological excess and so provide a critique of hegemonic ideology by presenting continuous encounters with that radical other.
Following this artists are invited to submit work, in any medium, that reflect, critique or play around the contemporary and/or historic manifestations of the Fetishistic formulation as a means of resisting this symbolic dissolution/integration.
——————————————————————————————

(((((Let us be careful not to forget that the voice carries through a thin wall or door))))) Sees his faults, his mannerisms, and his appetites laid bare, by his complacent eyes they are reduced in size (((((Just as is: – who can deny it, the shadow towards the midday on the sundial, showing that the stomach can demand its reward;
– By the frost, who can deny it, the standard meter;
– Defying the mud, a rolled up trouser leg; …”
(Roussel. p75, 2011)

References
Bhabha, H. n.d. – The other Question – [Online]. Available at http://courses.washington.edu/…/bhabha_the%20other%20questi… [Accessed 3 January 2015]
Baudrillard, J. 1981. For a critique of the political economy of the sign. USA: Telos press LTD.
Dant, T. 1996. Fetishism and the social value of Objects. Sociological Review, 44 (3) [Online]. Available at http://eprints-test.lancs.ac.uk/33407/1/Fetishism_eprint.pdf
Freud, S. 1927. Fetishism (J. Stranchey, Trans.) The Complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud. (Vol. XXI, pp147-157). London: Hogarth and the Institute of Psychoanalysis.
Hook, D. 2005. – Paradoxes of the other: (Post) colonial racism, radical difference, stereotype as fetish. [Online] Available at http://pins.org.za/pins31/Hook.pdf [Accessed 3 January 2015].
Roussel, R. 2011. New Impressions of Africa. USA: Princeton University Press
Richardson, M. 1998. ed. Georges Bataille: Essential Writings . London: Sage Publications LTD.
Stallybrass, P. 2011. Marx’s coat. [Online]. Available at: http://davidmcnally.org/…/…/Marxs-Coat-peter-stallyBrass.pdf [Accessed 5 January 2015]
Žižek, S. 2008. The sublime object of ideology. London, New York: Verso Publications LTD.

Artec2

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Process image of 'A lone dry skull' by Johan Thom, 2015,  (builders foam, found objects)

Process image of ‘A lone dry skull’ by Johan Thom, 2015, (cast from 19th century mold of Faustus, builders foam, found objects)

 

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CATALOGUE LAUNCH
[WORKING TITLE] 2013

AT GOODMAN GALLERY JOHANNESBURG
SATURDAY 25 OCTOBER 2014 AT 11H00

PLEASE JOIN US FOR A DRINK
[Working Title] 2013 Catalogue Launch

The launch of the [Working Title] 2013 catalogue will happen at The Goodman Gallery Johannesburg on 25 November, timed to coincide with the closing day [Working Title] 2014 at Goodman Gallery Cape Town.

The [Working Title] series is focused on developing work that can go beyond the run of the exhibition, and it is important that the catalogue exist in a similar way. The texts aim to extend the questions and subversions the artists provoke as opposed to just explaining and describing the works on show.

Some texts take the form of conversations – Raimi Gbadamosi and Gerald Machona discuss the role of art in representing tragedy and violence while Haroon Gunn-Salie, Simon Castets and Hans-Ulrich Obrist discuss the role of intervention and activism in Gunn-Salie’s practice.
Other contributions like Jessica Webster’s short stories, the co–authored essay by The Brother Moves On and the Frown’s manifesto of worship – are texts which exist as self referential semi fiction.

Kalia Brooks, Adjunct Professor in Photography at the Tisch School of the Arts, explores themes of control and compassion in Tegan Bristow’s interactive video work Coming and going but never leaving. Bristow herself reviews the use of digital and online media in Cuss Group’s work Untitled (Johannesburg screen saver) arguing that medium is definitive in representing the state of South Africa’s socio-political climate. In his analysis of Vinatge Cru, anthropologist and director of the LGBT rights programme at human rights watch, Graeme Reid investigates the centrality of performance to queer visibility in South Africa. Adreinne Edwards, associate curator at Performa New York writes on Nelisiwe Xaba and Mocke van Vueren’s work Uncles and Angels, understanding the work as an experimental meditation on ritual, the feminine, technology. Working Title exists as a space where relationships between the Goodman Gallery and artists, creatives and writers can be incubated.

The catalogue launch will happen alongside an exhibition which showcases works, performances and collaborations which have happened post [Working Title] 2013. Haroon Gunn-Salie, Jessica Webster and Johan Thom – all of whom have solo exhibitions next year with the Goodman Gallery – will exhibit works which are in preparation for their respective exhibitions or which have happened in association with the Goodman Gallery.

Gerald Machona, who was awarded the [Working Title] award in 2013 will exhibit a new series of ‘dictators’ headgear’ made from his trademark medium of decommissioned currency. A film made by The Brother Moves On, which focuses on the collaborative performances done since 2013 will be screened at the gallery.

The [Working Title] exhibitions are part of an initiative by the Goodman Gallery aimed at supporting young artists, curators, independent projects and major installations and performances.

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