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PUT SOMETHING IN TO GET SOMETHING OUT (article first published : 2008-04-14)

Put Something In To Get Something Out and other recent new work opens at the KZNSA on April 22 to run in the Main, Mezzanine and Electric Galleries.

This solo exhibition by Alison Kearney consists of selected artworks made between 2006 and 2008. Parts of the exhibition have been variously shown in Melbourne, Basel and Johannesburg. However, it is the first time any of these works will be exhibited in Durban.

Put something in to get something out is an interactive artwork that invites direct audience participation. The installation consists of a series of wooden boxes, each containing objects (found or made by the artist), arranged or selected according to a theme. Participants are invited to take an object out of the box if they replace this object with something of their own. To complete the exchange process, participants are asked to write about the items they swapped, and the reasons for their decisions.

This work has been performed at different locations in Johannesburg including the Johannesburg Art Gallery, Wits University, the University of Johannesburg and The Premises Gallery. Video documents of the interactions were exhibited alongside their boxes.

The objects represent what people had in their handbags, or what they brought specifically to exchange. Part of the aim was to amass a collection of objects that the artist did not choose, and to engage with, and explore, these objects in a new series of works.

The documents of this process of exchange were exhibited as a 400 piece mind map at Kearney’s most recent solo exhibition titled Offerings at the Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg 2008. Further, she used selected objects collected at the interactive art event to make a body of new work that responds to the objects people had given. In this way a dialogue was created between the different audiences and the artist.

Alison Kearney is based in Johannesburg, and holds a BA and MA in Fine Arts, both achieved with distinction, from the University of the Witwatersrand. Kearney is the recipient of the Maude Catherine Bird Scholarship, the E.J.A. Loerincz Scholarship and the Standard Bank History of Art Award. In 2003 she was a finalist in the MTN New Contemporaries Art Award, in 2004 awarded an artists residency in Switzerland and in 2006 invited as artist in residence at the 2006 NEXT WAVE festival in Melbourne, Australia. Kearney has participated in numerous international group exhibitions, and recently held her fourth solo exhibition at the Goodman Gallery, 2008.

She has lectured in the applied and visual arts at a number of universities in South Africa, and has been the guest lecturer at Konstfack, for the past three years. She is currently Acting Head of Department of Art in Education at the Wits School of Education.

Her interest is vested in the contexts of art production and display, as well as issues to do with how value is determined in culture. Through these works, she interrogates the institutions of art as institutions that determine cultural value and influence cultural production. Included in this interrogation is an exploration of the role of the audience in making meaning and contributing to the creative process when engaging with conceptual artworks in the field of exhibition.

Put Something In To Get Something Out by Alison Kearney opens at the Main, Mezzanine and Electric Galleries, KZNSA, on April 22 at 18h00 and runs until May 9. More information from Brenton Maart at KZNSA Gallery on 031 277 1703 or email: brenton@kznsagallery.co.za or visit www.kznsagallery.co.za




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