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Sasol New Signatures announces seven finalists for 2017

Posted on August 31, 2017.

Johannesburg-based artist, Lebohang Kganye, 27, has been announced as the winner of the 2017 Sasol New Signatures Art Competition. Kganye walks away with a cash prize of R100 000 and the opportunity to have a solo exhibition in 2018 at the Pretoria Art Museum. Runner up was Sthenjwa Luthuli from KwaZulu-Natal for his woodcut work titled Umbango.

The five Merit Award winners are: Francke Gretchen Crots, Goitseone Botlhale, Carol Anne Preston, Emily Harriet Blbring Robertson; and Cara-Jo Tredoux. Each Merit Award winner received a R10 000 cash prize.

Lebohang Kganye - Overall Winner

Lebohang Kganye
Ke sale teng, Animated film, 202 seconds

Ke sale teng confronts how family photo albums no longer have a fixed narrative, but instead, opens us to reinterpret our past. Perhaps this kind of reinterpretation is an interrogation of our need to preserve a certain narrative. Photo albums are arranged as if to tell life stories and testimonies and build identities, however, the image is never ‘complete’ – we are only presented with visual clues that allow our own imagination to further ‘complete’ the story.  

The more I research my family history, it becomes apparent that family history remains a space of contradictions – it is a mixture of truth and fiction. Sometimes we rely on the family photo album as a way to understand what family is meant to be. What we often land up with is a grouping of images that have been constructed, and perhaps do not account at all for the histories and memories that are connected with that album.  

Through the use of silhouette cut-outs of family members and other props in a diorama, the film confronts the conflicting stories which are told in multiple ways - memory combined with fantasy. Such archives do not reveal easy answers, for me, they reveal that time can break apart and reconnect and not quite fit back into one another.

Sthenjwa Hopewell Luthuli - Runner-up

Sthenjwa Hopewell Luthuli
Umbango (Conflict), Superwood cut block, 130 x 184cm

We are challenged to adapt and survive in a society that is constantly changing. This work, in particular, reflects the cultural politics with regards to the traditional Zulu rituals and customs within the contemporary family setting. There are specific traditional sacrifices implemented in order for an individual to claim their identity from their father’s side. However, this may affect the relationship between the two families and create conflict if the proper cultural rituals aren’t performed accordingly. Looking back at the prehistoric eras, within the Nguni cultural procedures, this tradition was formally organised through a bartering system. Here cattle played a vital component when family members were to demand their identities. The majority couldn’t meet the required amount of livestock which then further created massive debts for the upcoming generations, as they could not by traditional laws, request their rightful cultural identities.  

The piece I submitted titled Umbango is constructed in an aesthetically pleasing technique, yet on the contrary, contains really complex subjects in terms of their content. Umbango ultimately means ‘conflict’, and in this instance, it is domestic contradictions inside traditional Zulu contemporary family methods.

Francke Gretchen Crots - Merit Award

Francke Gretchen Crots
Doctor Crot's f____ed up anatomy, Ceramic tiles, 13,5 x 10 x 6cm

The ceramic book represents the severity of the human body and anatomy in a less severe way. The artworks play on the futility of the human existence and how a subject of such serious matter can seem of little importance when looked at from a subjective point of view. The book depicts how the human body can be seen and interpreted as an object in our day and age. With references to medical and scientific facts about the human body, the essence of "human" comes off as irrelevant and sometimes, even as a joke.  

The goal of the book is the realisation of the human and its rather small impact and role in society and on earth, the human is reminded that it is replaceable, disposable and unimportant - just like an object being made fun of.

Goitseone Bothlale Moerane - Merit Award

Goitseone Bothlale Moerane
Mosadi o tswara thipa ka bogaleng, Mixed media, 200 x 200cm

My mixed media artworks explore my identity as a modern black female in the Tswana culture. My works usually consist of subjective explorations which juxtapose my appreciation of my culture and my black feminist criticism of it simultaneously. I use a combination of photographic cut-outs, digital manipulation and an addition of the Shweshwe cloth as the main aspect of this multimedia style to comment on the violence and oppression against black women throughout history, and how it has culminated in various feelings of perplexity – resulting in my problematic identity construction.

Carol Anne Preston - Merit Award

Carol Anne Preston
Cocoon, Metal shavings, mechanism and stand, 240 x 180 x 85cm

This installation is a mechanism and a stand composed of various metal shavings. The cocoon has a beckoning and attractive tactility which harbours and emits a hidden violence, as its shuddering suggests a life form within.  

The fact that it is hung at eye level, as well as at an angle, adds to the discomfort as it sheds pieces of its contents from time to time. The cocoon is an essential protective stage in the metamorphosis of an unidentified insect. This installation is a response to the present volatility and revolutionary change in South Africa.

Emily Harriet Bülbring Robertson - Merit Award

Emily Harriet Bülbring Robertson
Emergency procedure for dinner with family, Linoleum print and collage on board, 109,5 x 52cm | In case of surprise visit by parents, Linoleum print and collage on board, 98,5 x 45cm

These works are two of a series of 11 inventions, products and stratagems I have created. It is aimed to give their users the appearance of conforming to existing gender stereotypes pertaining to the roles of women, whilst actually allowing them to live a life of their own choosing. These ideas are articulated through the media of collage and print.  

This project is indirectly subversive as it deals with appearance and fakery. By selecting the specific materials and methodologies, as well as using satire and humour, I have managed to impose certain female stereotypes. This is done by performing the roles that society deems ladylike - satisfying those who are intent on ensuring women do what they are 'supposed' to.

Cara-Jo Tredoux - Merit Award

Cara-Jo Tredoux
Wandering, Oil on wood, 42 x 59,5cm

This work is about the old Kempton Park abandoned and haunted hospital. I was fascinated by the hospital as it was abandoned 20 years ago without a trace as to why it happened. There are patient files and x-rays that still haunt the shelves and hospital equipment which still stands forgotten.  

The beauty of it all is that in the beginning there were only grass fields and trees. Then man came along to develop the grounds, yet as soon as man left, nature came back and restored itself. Although people have left the hospital there is still a sense of life which wanders through the halls, wards and theatres. It is not just the plants, but also 'the others' who have never left the hospital...

The Sasol New Signatures exhibition runs from 31 August - 8 October 2017 at the Pretoria Art Museum.

Images and text courtesy of Sasol.

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