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JOHAN THOM EXHIBITION (article first published : 2008-05-12)

The KZNSA is to host performance and installation works by Johan Thom.

Twilight (Of The Idols) The Oxford English dictionary defines the word “twilight’ as: “Light diffused by reflection of sun’s rays between daybreak and sunrise or sunset and dark…faint light; (fig.) condition of imperfect knowledge, understanding…”

“…in plain words: the old truth is coming to an end” (Nietzsche in Ecce Homo, 1888).

Following other seminal performances such as Theory of Gravity (2006) and come in peace/go to pieces (2008), Johan Thom once again appropriates from a variety of sources: the title is a clear reference to Twilight of the Idols by Friedrich Nietzsche (1888); the physical action comprises that of the “clenched fist” associated with so-called leftwing political groups but also, more generally, that of anger, violence and frustration; found materials such as ordinary washing detergent and black sump oil. These “materials” will be combined in order to create a ritualistic performance lasting approximately two hours in which a group of performers will repeat a series of actions with military precision.

The video installation Bind/Ontbind (Series 1) – first presented at the 2003 Venice Biennale as part of the exhibition recycling the future: viverevenezia2 – is an extension of a sculptural process where Johan Thom binds or wraps objects with rope, tape, plastic, etc. The artist writes that, “For me, the work is a metaphor for the constant processes of decay and of regeneration, of affirmation and negation – for example, the way various identities and ideologies bind themselves to us. They may disfigure us, but whenever we attempt to replace them with new systems of thought we are in fact simply disfiguring ourselves anew: this is the void – our inability to exist without disfiguring ourselves and our others through our limiting gaze. What will we place inside this void once it becomes patently evident? How could we embrace the complete … de-structuring of ourselves and those ideologies that, though horrific in their capacity to disfigure, also protect those things dear to us?

This attempt to defend oneself against the inevitable invasion of the outside is sustained by the illusion that one may come to know something wholly without becoming wholly immersed in it. And to find that despite our best efforts to the contrary, tomorrow will be as yesterday.”

Johan Thom lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa. He uses video, installation and performance to explore the close link between the human being, their socio-political and economic environment and spirituality. His works are often confrontational and darkly humorous, terrorizing our sense of space, order and stability.

He has shown and participated in numerous group exhibitions and art-projects at venues such as the Palazzo delle Papesse (2008) First Canary Island Biennale (2006); Belgrade International Theatre Festival (2006); the Britto Arts Trust in Bangladesh (2006); the Rotterdam Film Festival (2006); the Venice Biennale (2003 & 2005); the CRIC/Pro Helvetia residency program in Switzerland (2004/5); the Ampersand Fellowship in New York (2005); the International Computer Arts Festival in Slovenia (2004). and various other national arts festivals and group exhibitions in South Africa. He has had numerous solo shows including the Minotaur Series 12 at the Johannesburg Art Gallery (with Christophe Fellay, 2006), The Diary Of New York through Map South Africa (2006) and the Exorcism series at the National Cultural History Museum (2003), South Africa.

Johan Thom holds a BA Fine Arts degree (1999) from the University of Pretoria and a Masters Degree from the Tshwane University of Technology (2003, Cum Laude). Currently he works as a full time artist at the Fordsburg Artist Studios, Johannesburg.

Twilight (of The Idols) and Bind/Ontbind (Series 1) open at 17h30 on May 13 and run until June 8. The KZNSA is situated at 166 Bulwer Road, Glenwood, Durban. More information on 031 277 1703, email: curator@kznsagallery.co.za or visit www.kznsagallery.co.za




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