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Shadows and Sports 2014

Shadows and Sports is a series of dioramic still lives consisting of backdrops, foreground subjects and dramatic cast shadows. Traditional still life objects such as plants are coupled with utopian backdrops and cut-outs from contemporary South African lifestyle and recreational activities such as 90’s ballet brochures, 1995 rugby world cup closing ceremony dances, anonymous cricket heroes and picturesque South African cloudscapes.

The illusion of depth and space in the backdrops is imperilled by the cast shadow and the slight distortion from the oblique viewing angle, exposing its flatness and artifice. The works question the accuracy of perception, the illusion of beauty and the relativity of space, while exploring myths of modern day heroes, spectacles and parades.

In Land of Men and Morabaraba, I set out to represent an imagined fusion of cultures, using sport and games as a synecdoche for the broader spectrum of societal issues in South Africa. As in sport, almost every aspect of contemporary African society requires that cultural compromises are made and upheld. Every participant-citizen wants to play by their own rules, or the rules that they have been taught and brought up with. As a lingering result of colonialism, South Africa is still struggling to find a system and approach towards society which incorporates all these diverse rules and demands.

Today the game is not won or lost, but is still in play; the objective is unclear and it is not necessarily a battle between cultures, but also amongst corporations, political bodies, economic classes and between tradition and progress.

The works also celebrate the indigenous South African games which have recently been neglected, falling in the shadow of popular, mainly commercially driven colonial sport, although they deserve just as much appreciation for their sophistication and socio-cultural value.

Cricket and Iintonga stick fighting are both embodiments and expressions of honour, masculinity, athletic skill and tradition. In Iintonga one can be disqualified for striking one’s opponent below the waist (‘kumhlaba wamadoda’, meaning ‘the land of men’). In cricket, a ‘box’ is worn to protect the men’s genitals against impact.

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