Urban Animals: Zoo City-inspired exhibition

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NIROXprojects put together a Zoo City-inspired exhibition at Arts on Main in Johannesburg’s Maboneng Precinct with a bunch of amazing artists, curated by Ann Marie-Tully and Neil Nieuwoudt.

There’s some terrific coverage on it in the Mail & Guardian by Ang Lloyd

Here’s a snip:

“I ask Tully why the exhibition features many human-animals, as opposed to more abstract and conceptual pieces. “The concept grew rather fast, and we left it up to artists to propose works,” she explains. “Many works are literally ‘animal’ and it has taken on that aspect. And I’m pleased that it has. I think there are metaphorical layers but I really am afraid of figurative things as I find them reductionist: animals are reduced to metaphors according to human agendas. What I like about this is that everything in this show seems to complicate that boundary.”

And certain works in ZOO do just that, they complicate the boundary. An artist who talks more about the figurative, or, as Nieuwoudt puts it, about how “we’re all stuck in one big zoo”, is Germaine de Larch. Her photographic seriesDomesticity seems to compliment Tully’s concept of the urban animal and how we’re all essentially zookeepers, while at the same time we want to escape our self-created concrete enclosures. De Larch’s images are zoos within zoos, from the hipster couple lying in their designer bed, to the tacky Die Antwoord-style Jozi urbanites, posing in front of their security gate, fags and small yapping dogs in hand.”

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Curator Ann-Marie Tully explained the concept.

EXHIBITION CONCEPT/BRIEF: This group exhibition gathers together a group of established and emerging artists whose artwork relates in theme/manner/medium to Lauren Beukes’ Arthur C Clarke award-winning novel, Zoo City (2011). This text frames Johannesburg as the seedy science fiction setting for a long tale (tail) where a criminal underclass and their animal companions live in a magical and hellish reality. In Zoo CityBeukes has mobilised to great effect the entwined literal and metaphoric understanding of the English word “Zoo”

Her blog has all the pictures from the exhibition and it’s worth clicking through to see them all. 

This is the second Zoo City-inspired art exhibition. I wrote about the first one in 2011, featuring hissing boy crocodiles and balloon storm clouds, held in the Old Fort on Constitution Hill as an assignment for Wits University art curators course here: Dark City.

You might also be interested in The Shining Girls Charity Art Show for Rape Crisis (Visi Magazine has slide shows of all the works part 1 and part 2) and the custom vinyl toy Zoo City Bares we auctioned to raise money for a refugee kids charity in 2010.

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