Karin Preller Incidentally 2008 | Art.co.za | Art in South Africa
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Incidentally 2008 | Platform on 18 Pretoria

Incidentally, Platform on 18th, April 2008.

Extract from Louis Gaigher’s opening:

Stills from iconic picture comics of the 60s and 70s, published by Republican Press, are source material for Karin Preller’s work on exhibition. Apart from escapist yarns such as ‘Cha the white apache’ and ‘Ruiter in Swart’ the picture books, as they were called, resembled an idealized and insular white, middle-class, urban existence. With the trite staples of melodrama, they fed the fantasies and desires of a readership encompassing whites and blacks.

Preller’s painterly renderings play to the dark humour and uncanniness of these seemingly innocuous images. They articulate with extreme elegance a response to suburbia, gender and whiteness within the broader discourse of space and identity.

There is an eeriness to the so-called natural features and cityscapes, twice removed and mediated, the first time by functioning as props in pulp fiction and now painstakingly rendered in paint. The theatrical, stilted gestures of white actors, so carefully painted, evoke sleepwalking. Are they perhaps the living dead? The images remind me of the historical coincidence that Abba’s ‘Fernando’ was number one on Springbok Radio’s hit parade in the week of the Soweto uprising.

Apart from rendering the clichéd strange, Karin Preller’s work derives its haunting power from isolating frames from the flow of narrative and plunging the viewer into uncertainty. The viewer, accustomed to the conventions of plot, is fundamentally unsettled by frustrated expectations. The images following-on and preceding refuse to reveal if the meeting with Braam was incidental, the motorical moment or the resolution of a love affair, an isolated incident or a drawn out accident. We are not sure what to make of the information presented to us. As characters in the source material, the figures were exasperating, and as actors, limited in their range. Now rendered in paint, they are vulnerable in their unknowingness. The most throwaway scene becomes poignant.


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