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THE KZNSA MEMBERS’ EXHIBITION (article first published : 2008-01-25)

The KZNSA’s annual Members Exhibition is currently running and this year’s theme is Id entity.

Social scientist Melanie Judge describes “identity” as a process “of differentiation, a description of one’s own group and simultaneously a separation from ‘others’”. The first thing we learn from her definition is that identity is a process. In other words, it changes over time. It is not a fixed entity. This is a far cry from earlier social theories which sought to define groups, and fix them within narrow delimitations traditionally based on gender, skin colour, geographic location, and so on. Today, contemporary social theory understands that the process of identity formation implies that identity is fluid; in constant flux.

The second thing we learn is that identity is a process of comparison between oneself (or one’s own group) and a neighbour (or a neighbouring group). Earlier social theories sought to make these comparisons by highlighting differences, whilst more enlightened, contemporary theorists introduce the notion of similarities as a more accurate way to describe and promote constructive relationships.

A further characteristic of post-modern identity theory is the notion of multiplicity: the fact that a number of identities can co-exist, simultaneously, within one person or within one group. Thus, it becomes more accurate to start talking about identities, in its plural form.

Closely tied to identity theory is the notion of representation: who is talking on behalf of whom. Today, it is accepted that the most truthful and accurate description is in talking only about yourself, leaving others to talk about themselves.

The implication of these contemporary theories of identity presents a rich and exciting field for the artist: to try to capture this fluidity – this constant conversation, this multiple flow of the construction of meaning, this simultaneous existence and manifestation of a myriad of possibilities – using the tool of the visual.

This annual highlight on the KZNSA exhibition calendar is made possible by the active involvement of all KZNSA members. Non-members are encouraged to join the KZNSA should they wish to enter their work.

Id entity runs in the KZNSA Gallery complex until February 16.




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