Information
Contact

POOL is a Johannesburg based not-for-profit art organisation that supports artists, curators and musicians through collaboration, commissioning, and the production and presentation of new work. POOL champions contemporary experimental and interdisciplinary artist and curator-led practice and research, and works to develop projects that connect practitioners, organisations and publics across a constellation of creative practices, scales and sites.

Emerging from an investigation into the role, forms, and organising systems of art institutions, POOL considers, from the perspective of artistic and curatorial practice, what it might mean to build an institution that is dynamic, responsive and generative. To that end, POOL experiments and plays with instituent forms, exhibitions, public programming and publications as spatial and discursive practices. POOL was founded in 2015 by Mika Conradie and Amy Watson during a residency at Ithuba Art Gallery, Johannesburg.

Mika Conradie is a curator and writer; formerly the Manager for Public Programmes and Development at the Market Photo Workshop; a 2013 Fellow of the Gwangju Biennale Curator Course; and a former curator-in-residence at Jakarta Biennale and the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw. She was head researcher for a number of best practice guides for arts practitioners commissioned by VANSA from 2014-2017; and most recently the curator of PALM PALM Palmar (2018) - publication forthcoming.

Amy Watson is a curator and a founding director of POOL. Most recently she curated How To Disappear (2020) and Soft Architectures (2019) at Goodman Gallery. In 2017 she curated the exhibition and edited the publication Ângela Ferreira South Facing at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. She is a 2016 fellow of the Gwangju Biennale Curator Course, and a 2015 fellow of the Glasgow International Curatorial Exchange, curating Sightings at KZNSA Gallery that same year. Watson has worked in public and private collections including: V22 Collection, London; Saatchi Gallery, London; and Johannesburg Art Gallery. Watson holds an MFA in Curatorial Practice, Goldsmiths College, University of London and an MAFA from The University of the Witwatersrand.

POOL is a registered NPO organisation (145-856 NPO) with Public Benefit Organisation status (930048313).

News

POOL partners with the Oceanic Humanities

POOL partners with the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South  for Holding Water, a programme of workshops, reading groups, film screenings and artist presentations that think the oceanic from land-locked Johannesburg from October 2019 to March 2020.

The Oceanic Humanities for the Global South WiSER and  POOL are collaborating on a research and exhibition project focused on the politics and poetics of oceanic flows, from the perspective of land-locked Johannesburg. POOL’s ongoing ‘Ocean Thinking’ project postulates that a large part of the political, social and economic reality of the post-colonial global South has been and continues to be produced in and through its relationship to the ocean. Oceanic Humanities aims to decolonize histories of oceanic space while providing new approaches to literary and aesthetic understandings of water. Their collaboration draws together academic, literary and cultural studies with practice-based research. 

The project tests the framing of academic, artistic and exhibition practice through destabilising temporal and spatial rhythms that constitute the anticipated forms of exhibitions and lectures through a series of programmed events that are staged between new and full moon cycles, and across past and future oceanic geographies. The public programme will include performance lectures, screenings, live musical performances, immersive installations, live readings, and public city walks lead by artists and scholars, as well as a two-day workshop at the WiSER, Wits, Johannesburg.

read more

02 July 2019

Nina Barnett & Jeremy Bolen in Residency at POOL

Nina Barnett (ZA) and Jeremy Bolen (USA) present Beams, a year-long research project beginning with a residency at POOL for the month of July and culminating in an exhibition in May 2020 that will explore a facet of Johannesburg’s past and future time, the impact of in/visibility, and the edges of knowledge. 

Beams will consider the distant past (geological deep time) and it’s connections to the earth’s emerging future (the anthropocene). The project will attempt to extend our sensorial capabilities and in doing so bring attention to what extending our senses allow us: collective experience, belief, an understanding of our surroundings. Of particular interest for the artists is understanding how the anthropocene epoch has embedded an archive of traces in human bodies, and how these sub-atomic particles we are immersed in can become visible and further understood. To this end, Barnett and Bolen intend to extend their research into a multidimensional exhibition that includes an array on extra-disciplinary collaborations with practitioners from the worlds of science, activism and the humanities.

Beams forms part of a new research focus undertaken by POOL, which investigates the diversity of engagement that artists have developed to climate crisis - be it as the anthropocene, the capitalocene, or the cthulhucene; as well as newer articulations that are emerging and being shaped across specific contexts.

Nina Barnett is a South African artist currently living in Johannesburg. She received her MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and her BFA from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Nina Barnett uses drawing, printmaking, photography, moving image and installation to examine particular locations in relation to the body, deep time and vertical scale. Her work seeks connections between the geographical, the experienced and the materiality of surfaces, and questions the relationship between theoretical, surmised and accidental knowledge. Barnett has exhibited her work locally and abroad - notably at Gallery 400 and the Chicago Artists Coalition in Chicago, The Soap Factory in Minneapolis, David Krut Gallery and Harvestworks in New York, and at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Recent residencies include the Cite des Arts in Paris; AIR in Bergen, Norway; PROGR in Bern,Switzerland and Summer Forum, Joshua Tree. 

Jeremy Bolen is an artist researcher, organiser and educator interested in site specific, experimental modes of documentation and presentation.  Much of Bolen’s work involves rethinking systems of recording –– in an attempt to observe invisible presences that remain from various scientific experiments and human interactions with the earth’s surface. Bolen is a recent recipient of the Banff Research in Culture Residency in Alberta, Canada; PACT Zollverein Residency in Essen, Germany; Oxbow Faculty Artist Residency in Saugatuck, MI; Anthropocene Campus Residency in Berlin and Center for Land Use Interpretation Residency in Wendover, Utah. His work has been exhibited at numerous locations including the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; La Box, Bourges; PACT Zollverein, Essen; University at Buffalo, Buffalo; IDEA Space, Colorado Springs; The Mission, Houston; Galerie Zürcher, Paris; Andrew Rafacz, Chicago; Soccer Club Club, Chicago; Salon Zürcher, New York; The Drake, Toronto; Untitled Art Fair, Miami; Gallery 400, Chicago; Newspace Center for Photography, Portland; Depaul University Art Museum, Chicago and Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago. Bolen lives and works between Chicago and Atlanta, serves as Assistant Professor of Photography at Georgia State University, is co-founder and co-organiser of the Deep Time Chicago collective, and is represented by Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Chicago.  

 

read more

01 July 2019

3 Dreams of the Sinking World Opens 13 April 2019 at POOL

3 Dreams Of The Sinking World, a solo presentation by James Webb, contains a 5 channel filmic meditation on the Carlton Hotel in downtown Johannesburg. An icon of wealth and luxury when it was built in the 1960s, and a symbol of Johannesburg’s modern global aspirations during the height of apartheid, the hotel was never financially successful and was finally closed in the 1990s. The building remains closed, in a state of suspension, while the city around it has changed. 3 Dreams of the Sinking World consists of a sound installation and a five channel film installation of footage taken inside the hotel in 2015 and 2018 respectively. The exhibition includes recorded audio narrative pieces commissioned by POOL especially for the exhibition.

Webb’s filmic vignettes reveal a gradual scopic study of the architectural and infrastructural elements that remain as they intersect with peeling design elements, dead facilities, and exhausted organic matter. The first installation presents footage from a drone camera tracking an expired palm tree that has been abandoned on the former rooftop pool and entertainment area of the hotel. The second moves to the core of the building with a camera slowly tracking back along the corridor of the 26th floor in a movement that references the famous "corridor" scene from The Shining. The final piece contains footage that follows Shoes Mthembu, a security guard, as he descends 30-flights of stairs inside the hotel. Lit only by a torch, Mthembu leads the viewer from the roof to the basement. Intersecting all the filmic vignettes is the sound of Johannesburg as filtered through the physical husk of the building - recordings made by placing a series of microphones, including sensitive contact microphones to tap into the vibrations of the walls and windows, throughout the hotel.

Opening | 13 April 18.30

Walkabout | 13 April 11.00

Closing | 22 June 2019

read more

1 April 2019

Starter Room 2019

The 2019 cycle of Starter Room launches at POOL on the 15th of March. Starter Room is a lab and mediateque in which plant relations, structures and substrates are framed as potential sites for social, political and biological transmission and through which unheard and unexpected histories and knowledges might be accessed. 

The name “Starter Room” is inspired by the cultivation of wild yeast that is supported and fed through a fermented mixture of flour, water and naturally occurring bacteria, originally used to make bread rise before the invention of commercial instant yeast. Motivated by the fomenting intersection of microbial and macro ecologies in which plants, cells, spores, and rhizomatic extensions develop, Starter Room is organised as a scene of public encounter through which discursive acts, relations, knowledge production and sharing take place.
 

Programming
15 March, 19.00:
Mandla Mlangeni x Shane Cooper 
Improvised sonic response to early films of submarine microbiology, fauna and flora.

21 March, 17.00 onwards:
Nolan Oswald Dennis: Mud Songs, durational performance 
Mud Songs forms part of Mud Notes: an experimental research programme for organising and distributing mud as knowledge and matter (a fleshy surplus). Mud Notes runs from 14 - 30 March at POOL, with open lab days to be announced.

30 March, 14.00 onwards:
Zayaan Khan
Fermentation Workshop, including a shared meal and tasting.


Starter Room is supported by the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT)

read more

1 February 2019

Uriel Orlow's Theatrum Botanicum Opens at POOL on 4 September 2018

In September 2018 Uriel Orlow’s Theatrum Botanicum project will be realised across several venues in three cities in South Africa. Using the media of film, photography, installation and sound, and working from the dual vantage points of South Africa and Europe, the project considers plants as both witnesses and actors in history, and as dynamic agents—connecting nature and humans, rural and cosmopolitan medicine, tradition and modernity—across different geographies, histories and systems of knowledge, with a variety of curative, spiritual and economic powers.

The works variously explore botanical nationalism and other legacies of colonialism, plant migration and invasion, biopiracy, flower diplomacy during apartheid, the garden planted by Nelson Mandela and his fellow inmates on Robben Island prison, as well as the role of classification and naming of plants.  The project developed out of a research residency undertaken in 2014 and evolved through successive trips between 2015 and 2017 in which Orlow undertook extensive research in archives, and collaborated with traditional medicine practitioners as well as those with legal and botanical expertise, traversing Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.

The project has evloved over several exhibitions including: The Showroom, London (2016); EVA International (2016) curated by Koyo Kouoh; the 2017 Sharjah Biennal 13 (where it won a major award); and Kunsthalle St Gallen, Switzerland (2018). The South African iteration sees the project return to its geography of origin, giving local audiences and practitioners - some of whom helped shape the project - an opportunity to critically and generatively respond to the body of work.

The project will be hosted between POOL and the Market Photo Workshop, in Johannesburg, the Institute for the Creative Arts (ICA) in Cape Town and the Durban Art Gallery.

This project forms part of a special programme of Pro Helvetia Johannesburg, the Southern African liaison office of the Swiss Arts Council, celebrating twenty years of collaboration and exchange with the region. For more information go here.

read more

4 August 2018

PALM Palm palmar Group Show Opens at POOL on 18 July 2018

PALM PALM Palmar is an exhibition that attempts to produce propositions around place making, entering the question of spatial organisation through flora. Extending the architecture of a built environment towards the architecture and infrastructure of landscaping regimes and plant structures, the project looks at how meaning and history have been produced under human-plant relations and what the role of specific plant-life is in assembling or eliding historic and contemporary narratives. The project takes its cue from the importation of palm trees into Johannesburg during apartheid, from island “utopias” across the Pacific Ocean and South-East Asia.
 

The title of the project, PALM, PALM, Palmar, brings attention to the linguistic history of the word 'palm', which is also a term for a tricksters’ 'sleight of hand', or 'to palm' something away. Palmae, as they are called in latin botanical classification, are also named after the opened surface of the human hand which is not only a flat plane area, but what is referred to in medical terms as palmar – “of or pertaining to the underside of an appendage”, the area always pointing downwards.
 

'Palm' is thus a gesture, a territory and a direction.

ARTISTS: YTO BARRADA | SIMON GUSH | MADEYOULOOK | SEBASTIAN MEJIA | LUCAS ODAHARA | KARIN TAN + SKYE QUADLING

CURATED BY: MIKA CONRADIE

read more

20 June 2018

POOL's project space opens with Abri de Swardt's Ridder Thirst

POOL is excited to launch our project space on 26 April 2018 with Abri de Swardt's Ridder Thirst project. Ridder Thirst marks de Swardt's first solo exhibition in Johannesburg, deploying queer historiography and collective voice to 'un-write' place. By exploring the mechanisms of the lens De Swardt simultaneously occupies and inverts the ‘straight’ canons of documentary photography and essay film, facing the continued effects of white denialism with the restorative agency and limits of queer youth.

The exhibition comprises work realised between 2015 and 2018, including a video installation, a photographic series, a performance in four parts and the launch of the Ridder Thirst 12’’ LP - a double vinyl record with commissions by Stephané E. Conradie, Metode en Tegniek, Athi Mongezeleli Joja, Pierre Fouché, Khanyisile Mbongwa, Rachel Collet, Abri de Swardt and Alida Eloff.  

Ridder Thirst includes a programme of public events realised in collaboration with De Swardt: The performance Words Beneath Bridges invokes graffiti scrawled beneath overpasses and along rivers as bardic writings at, and of, the margins. De Swardt choreographs the piece (first realised at The Centre for the Less Good Idea and performed by Quinton Manning and Danie Putter), in four sequences as “sunstrokes of voice” in which techniques of collage - the cut, the inlay and occlusion - are transposed to performance. 

This project is supported by the National Arts Council South Africa.

read more

20 February 2018

BACK
CLOSE
Exhibition
Year
Exhibition
Year
Holding Water
Ocean Thinking
2019
BEAMS
Nina Barnett & Jeremy Bolen
2019
3 Dreams Of The Sinking World
James Webb
2019
Starter Room
2019
Theatrum Botanicum
Uriel Orlow
2018
PALM PALM Palmar
Curated by Mika Conradie
2018
Ridder Thirst
Abri de Swardt
2018
(rhythmanalysis) from within, without, and against
2017
Exhibition
Year
BEAMS Exhibition & Workshop
Nina Barnett & Jeremy Bolen
2020
Programme
Year
Programme
Year
Particulate
2019
+
Nina Barnett and Jeremy Bolen


July 2019 - January 2020


Particulate was installed at POOL Gallery from July 2019 to January 2020. It’s purpose was to evoke the invisible particulate that surrounds us as we move through our environments: from smog and dust to atoms to neutrinos to radioactive material. This light installation served as an indication and provocation for interactions with visitors and the public about Barnett and Bolen's research. Inadvertently, because of its black surface, it also highlighted the local material particulate that settled on the black shiny surface over the installation's duration.

Play-White
2019
+
Bianca Baldi


26 October - 31 January 2020


‘Play-White’ (2019)

10:45min (looped), colour, stereo

Play-White is a sub-aquatic tale that explores the phenomenon of Versipellis, a physical trait derived from Latin that literally means ‘one who changes skin’. The film looks at the cuttlefish who is able to change the colour of its skin as a mechanism to escape its enemies. In this video, the cuttlefish, also called sepia, is presented as both the creature that won’t be pinned down to one colour as well as the source of the pigment of sepia. Woven through the tale is the figure of Clare Kendry from Nella Larsen’s twentieth-century novel 'Passing'.

 

Film Credits:

Assistant director: Romain Boniface

Camera: Bianca Baldi and Romain Boniface

Editing: Liyo Gong

Post-production: GVN 108

Sound design: François Boulanger

Colourist: Maxime Tellier

Filmed at MIO Institut Méditerranéen d’océanologie, Marseille

Courtesy the artist. Co-produced by Netwerk Aalst, Belgium with the support of the Hessische Kulturstiftung

 

This project was part of Holding Water - a programme of workshops, reading groups, film screenings and artist presentations that think the oceanic from land-locked Johannesburg, commissioned by POOL and the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South, WiSER, Wits University.

This project is kindly supported by the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South, WiSERBusiness and Arts South Africa, and Ellis House Art Building.

To See With The Ears and Speak With The Nose 
2019
+
Sinethemba Twalo and Abri de Swardt


7 November - 4 December 2019


READING #CYCLE 1

 

A Squeeze of the Hand (Words need Love too)

7 November
 

To Shore: A Choreutic Borderline

16 November 


Residence Time

4 December 

 

Beginning from Amal Donqul’s statement that the sea like the desert does not quench thirst, READING CYCLE #1 invites participants to explore questions of entanglement, chaos, desire, contradiction within everyday life and the imminent unknown. The cycle traces the echogenic qualities of water, its reverberating hums, its fluidity and constant movement back and forth, which impel a becoming (other)wise.

Through a performativity of textual immersion in which boundaries between literary and theoretical genres become porous, and dissipate against and within each other, the cycle enunciates wetness as a conduit for the affective capacities of words. The title points to the sensorium of cetaceans, suggesting a trans-position and embalming of our own orientations to embrace hydromechanics as a gesture of (dis)solution, a streaming of bodies, and a pooling of temporalities. This use of ‘temporal’ touches upon the use of temps in French for both time and weather, heeding us that we should think of time, citing Michel Serres, as aleatory mixtures of the temperaments, of intemperate weather, of tempests and temperature which percolates rather than flows. Time is thus approached as historically thermodynamic. In aligning the sessions with the quarter moons a tidal attenuation and equilibrium is approached outside of chrononormativity. Cast beneath the waters, one crosses over into an aesthetics of drowning.

 

This project was part of Holding Water - a programme of workshops, reading groups, film screenings and artist presentations that think the oceanic from land-locked Johannesburg, commissioned by POOL and the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South, WiSER, Wits University.

This project is kindly supported by the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South, WiSERBusiness and Arts South Africa, and Ellis House Art Building. 

the ground, and other wet things
2019
+
Nolan Oswald Dennis with DORMANTYOUTH and Robin Scher


27 November 2019


A once-off sound and image performance by Nolan Oswald Dennis, with DORMANTYOUTH and Robin Scher. 

Songs for indecision. Which is to say mud. Which is to claim mud. Which is to think from wherever I am not. Which is to find a Markov blanket is no shield. Which is to dream as if I am awake. Which is to absorb whatever falls my way. Which is to drown. Which is to squelch. Which is to leave a sediment. Which is to stratify. Which is to become (fossil) fuel. Which is to strategise. Which is to build from the bottom up. Which is to reverse time, or at least slow it down. Which is to be too early, or too late. Which is to forget. Which is to be seen as forgetful. Which is to be free from forgetting. Which is to be free for a short time only. Which is to short time. Which is to sell in advance of acquisition. Which is to work as if tomorrow will be worse than today. Which is to look downward. Which is to see ground. Which is to be ground. Which is to move water. Which is to pick up bits of other things. Which is to be mixed up. Which is to carry stuff. Which is to be with you. Which is to lose myself. Which is to obfuscate. Which is to be alone. Which is a type of togetherness. Which is to slide (like mud). Which is to be unclear (like mud). Which is to be here (like mud). Which is to land. Which is to need land. Which is to be some labour. Which is to contain many labours. Which is something like a bit of water full of things which are not water. Which is a little mud. Which is soft shit.

--

a sound and image rendition of a reluctant azania

 

This project was part of Holding Water - a programme of workshops, reading groups, film screenings and artist presentations that think the oceanic from land-locked Johannesburg, commissioned by POOL and the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South, WiSER, Wits University.

This project is kindly supported by the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South, WiSERBusiness and Arts South Africa, and Ellis House Art Building. 

Tidalectics
2019
+
Thandi Ntuli and Shane Cooper


12 November 2019


Tidalectics, an immersive once-off performance by musicians Shane Cooper and Thandi Ntuli that sonically and visually navigated the ocean's dynamic flows, currents and tides as sound-spaces.

 

This project was part of Holding Water - a programme of workshops, reading groups, film screenings and artist presentations that think the oceanic from land-locked Johannesburg, commissioned by POOL and the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South, WiSER, Wits University.

This project is kindly supported by the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South, WiSERBusiness and Arts South Africa, and Ellis House Art Building.

Thinking the Sea as Practice
2019
+
Zayaan Khan


26 October


The oceans have held the beginning of life itself, countless life forms rooted in ancient forms of time. The oceans come saturated in salt, zooplankton, phytoplankton, life and death, story and history. Zayaan Khan traced some of these stories with samples of what the ocean has swept ashore, linking stories of our history into our present. The workshop finished with a choice of practicals: making kelp tools and instruments; or using seawater as brine for fermentation. Ocean inspired refreshments were served.

This project was part of Holding Water - a programme of workshops, reading groups, film screenings and artist presentations that think the oceanic from land-locked Johannesburg, commissioned by POOL and the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South, WiSER, Wits University.

This project is kindly supported by the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South, WiSERBusiness and Arts South Africa, and Ellis House Art Building.

BEAMS Film Programme
2019
+
Nicholas Mangan, Inhabitants, Semiconductor


1 October 2019


7.00pm - 8.30pm

A film program for the closing of BEAMS, a residency undertaken by Nina Barnett and Jeremy Bolen at POOL. This programme presented artist films that consider human relationships to time, geology and capital, and that attempt to make visible phenomena and structures that operate outside of the expected lines of vision. 

 

Inhabitants

Molecular Colonialism: A Geography of Agrochemicals in Brazil (2018)

Since 2008, Brazil is the country that consumes the most agrochemicals in the world. In the period between 1999 and 2009, for example, around 62,000 cases of poisoning by agrochemicals were reported. If land expropriation and labor exploitation are the visible side of the violence associated with the agribusiness, poisoning is its invisible side.

Molecular Colonialism: A Geography of Agrochemicals in Brazil is a project coordinated by Larissa Mies Bombardi, geographer at the University of São Paulo. This atlas reveals an image of contamination between 2007 and 2014, across different categories: by region, sex, age, ethnicity-race, education, circumstances of poisoning, and if it occurred on or off work. This episode is but a brief visual sample of this tremendous mapping.

 

Inhabitants

Mining for Ringwoodite (2016)

Mining for Ringwoodite compares the 2014 geological discovery of “fossilized” water – termed Ringwoodite - found in the interior of a diamond in Brazil, with the prospects of mining on the moon or asteroids as announced by private companies in recent years. Ringwoodite, which holds water in the form of hydrogen and oxygen bound together, can only be found in the earth’s transition zone, between 410 and 660 kilometers below the earth’s surface. Given that water scarcity will only worsen throughout the twenty-first century, this episode speculates on a near future in which Ringwoodite as well as rare minerals (and possibly water in such petrified state) found in nearby asteroids will be the objects of a new mining economy. In this future, both the earth’s interior and outer space would define the new capitalist frontiers, similarly to gold and silver mining in the colonial past.

 

Nicholas Mangan

A World Undone (2012)

A World Undone delves into Zircon, a 4,400 Million year old mineral that has been unearthed within some of the earth’s earliest crust in Western Australia’s extremely remote Jack Hills. The project gathered a small sample of the geological material to be crushed and reduced to dust, disaggregating the very matter that it was comprised of. The dust was filmed, airborne, by a camera that captures movement at a speed of 2500 frames per second. The airborne dust elicits an image of the earth’s crust dematerializing, a rear vision view of the earth’s becoming; an inverted cosmos.In the words of founding Geologist James Hutton, the so-called discoverer of deep-time; “No vestige of a beginning — no prospect of an end”

 

Semiconductor

As the World Turns (2018)

As the World Turns is a moving image science fiction, which explores man’s place in time and space, through the science of radio astronomy.  Filmed at Goonhilly Earth Station, a satellite communications site in Cornwall, England, As the World Turns visually explores the location through hand-held camera footage, creating an intimate experience and suggesting the presence of a human observer. We are given an impression of the sites history, the achievements once gained, future endeavours and of technology and nature co-existing. The film provides a sense of man firmly grounded in the landscape, yet looking out into space, framed by our view from the Earth and the technology developed and employed to create an understanding of it.

 

Beams forms part of a new research focus undertaken by POOL, which investigates the diversity of engagement that artists have developed to climate crisis - be it as the anthropocene, the capitalocene, or the cthulhucene; as well as newer articulations that are emerging and being shaped across specific contexts.

A Forecast
2019
+
Nina Barnett and Jeremy Bolen


13 July 2019


A Forecast

Walk and Public Discussion

with Nina Barnett and Jeremy Bolen

Saturday 13 July 2019, 3.30pm to 5.30pm

Johannesburg Observatory

 

To see the invisible, instruments are required.

Join Nina Barnett and Jeremy Bolen for a collective sensory walk at the Johannesburg Observatory, and a public discussion about their collaborative project and continuing work together. From the top of the ridge we will observe the turning of the earth as the sun sets. 

This event forms part of Beams, a year-long research project by Nina Barnett (ZA) and Jeremy Bolen (USA), beginning with a residency at POOL for the month of July and culminating in an exhibition in May 2020 that will explore a facet of Johannesburg’s past and future time, the impact of in/visibility, and the edges of knowledge. 

Beams forms part of a new research focus undertaken by POOL, which investigates the diversity of engagement that artists have developed to climate crisis - be it as the anthropocene, the capitalocene, or the cthulhucene; as well as newer articulations that are emerging and being shaped across specific contexts.

 

ABOUT BEAMS:

Nina Barnett (ZA) and Jeremy Bolen (USA) present Beams, a year-long research project beginning with a residency at POOL for the month of July and culminating in an exhibition in May 2020 that will explore a facet of Johannesburg’s past and future time, the impact of in/visibility, and the edges of knowledge. 

Beams will consider the distant past (geological deep time) and it’s connections to the earth’s emerging future (the anthropocene). The project will attempt to extend our sensorial capabilities and in doing so bring attention to what extending our senses allow us: collective experience, belief, an understanding of our surroundings. Of particular interest for the artists is understanding how the anthropocene epoch has embedded an archive of traces in human bodies, and how these sub-atomic particles we are immersed in can become visible and further understood. To this end, Barnett and Bolen intend to extend their research into a multidimensional exhibition that includes an array on extra-disciplinary collaborations with practitioners from the worlds of science, activism and the humanities.

Beams forms part of a new research focus undertaken by POOL, which investigates the diversity of engagement that artists have developed to climate crisis - be it as the anthropocene, the capitalocene, or the cthulhucene; as well as newer articulations that are emerging and being shaped across specific contexts.

Mud Songs
2019
+
Nolan Oswald Dennis


21 March


MUD SONGS
8 cantos for soil and water
A four hour durational performance with Robin Sher (saxophone) and Phumlani Pikoli (vocals). 

Mud Songs is a programme for gathering and attending to mud as a psycho-political sub terrain at the intersection of water and earth. Mud Songs is a collective project for dreaming with soil and sound and signs. Mud Songs are a longness, a muddy forever (sonically and tactilely and tactically).

Mud Songs is a 4 hour programme in 30 minute acts, each act is arranged around a song, each song is a loose collection of sonic and tactile fragments: vinyl records, youtube videos, spoken word, saxophonic improvisation, readings, screamings, touchings, holdings.

Visitors are invited to come and join and leave and stay.

Programme:

17:00 > canto 1: general mud
17:30 > canto 2: a curriculum for mud in pisces
18:00 > canto 3: permanent aftermath
18:30 > canto 4: a more human
19:00 > canto 5: songs for dyeing
19:30 > canto 6: a continuity flesh
20:00 > canto 7: geophagia
20:30 > canto 8: on mud and silence (on the roof)


Nolan Oswald Dennis is an interdisciplinary artist from Johannesburg, South Africa. His practice explores what he calls ‘a black consciousness of space’: the material and metaphysical conditions of decolonization. His work questions the politics of spacetime through a system-specific, rather than site- specific approach. He is concerned with hidden structures that limit our social and political imagination. Through a language of diagrams, drawings and models he explores the systematic and structural conditions that organise our political sub-terrain. Dennis’ work attempts to stitch these symbiotic systems together, to synthesise bio-political, socio-political and techno-political fictions. He holds a Bachelor degree in Architecture from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and a Masters of Science in Art, Culture and Technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

This event forms part of Starter Room. Starter Room is a lab and mediateque in which plant relations, structures and substrates are framed as potential sites for social, political and biological transmission and through which unheard and unexpected histories and knowledges might be accessed. The name “Starter Room” is inspired by the cultivation of wild yeast that is supported and fed through a fermented mixture of flour, water and naturally occurring bacteria, originally used to make bread rise before the invention of commercial instant yeast. Motivated by the fomenting intersection of microbial and macro ecologies in which plants, cells, spores, and rhizomatic extensions develop, Starter Room is organised as a scene of public encounter through which discursive acts, relations, knowledge production and sharing take place.

Starter Room is supported by the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) in association with the Nedbank Arts Affinity.

Fermentation Workshop
2019
+
Zayaan Khan


30 March


Fermentation Workshop and Meal

by Zayaan Khan

Join POOL for a workshop on wild fermentation led by Zayaan Khan, where we will learn the practicalities of fermentation for food, soil health, medicine, and even for dyeing; meet our microbial kin and begin to understand their fomenting impact on environments; hear stories of cultural fermentation; and discuss how to build a community of (multispecies) fermenters to revive the pantry. We will use salt and sweet as key tools to unlock ancient practice into an encouraging future.

The workshop will run for three hours from 15.00 - 18.00, including tasters and a special shared vegetarian meal of fermented foods. This workshop is free.

Zayaan Khan is from Cape Town and works in understanding nuances within food systems by navigating land from an interdisciplinary perspective. Firmly rooted in a socio-political context, she works at unhinging our dependence on neoliberal consumption. She is interested in food through the lens of art, specifically to find ways to share stories, both of struggle and solution and how this influences self-care. Zayaan is currently completing a Masters within the Environmental Humanities at the University of Cape Town, her research is titled "From seed-as-object to seed-as-relation".

This event forms part of Starter Room. Starter Room is a lab and mediateque in which plant relations, structures and substrates are framed as potential sites for social, political and biological transmission and through which unheard and unexpected histories and knowledges might be accessed. The name “Starter Room” is inspired by the cultivation of wild yeast that is supported and fed through a fermented mixture of flour, water and naturally occurring bacteria, originally used to make bread rise before the invention of commercial instant yeast. Motivated by the fomenting intersection of microbial and macro-ecologies in which plants, cells, spores, and rhizomatic extensions develop, Starter Room is organised as a scene of public encounter through which discursive acts, relations, knowledge production and sharing take place.

Starter Room is supported by the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) in association with the Nedbank Arts Affinity.

Mandla Mlangeni x Shane Cooper
2019
+


15 March


Mandla Mlangeni x Shane Cooper, a live improvised sonic response to early films of submarine microbiology, fauna and flora, as part of Starter Room.

This event forms part of Starter Room. Starter Room is a lab and mediateque in which plant relations, structures and substrates are framed as potential sites for social, political and biological transmission and through which unheard and unexpected histories and knowledges might be accessed. The name “Starter Room” is inspired by the cultivation of wild yeast that is supported and fed through a fermented mixture of flour, water and naturally occurring bacteria, originally used to make bread rise before the invention of commercial instant yeast. Motivated by the fomenting intersection of microbial and macro ecologies in which plants, cells, spores, and rhizomatic extensions develop, Starter Room is organised as a scene of public encounter through which discursive acts, relations, knowledge production and sharing take place.

Starter Room is supported by the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) in association with the Nedbank Arts Affinity.

just...just
2018
+
Nelisiwe Xaba and Eduardo Cachucho


4 August


Nelisiwe Xaba and Eduardo Cachucho, as part of (rhythmanalysis) from within, without and against

4 August 2018

Improvised performance at a secret location

Eduardo Cachucho and Nelisiwe Xaba present a performance work set in a private space where the audience is invited to sit on pillows, lie on blankets or mats as they experience a performative and rhythmic elaboration of just plain knowing by the performers.

just ... just is a performance by Eduardo Cachucho and Nelisiwe Xaba in the frame of  (rhythmanalysis) from within, without and against which brings together musicians and artists to respond to Henri Lefebvre's, Rhythmanalysis, the final volume in the Critique of Everyday Life.

Ridder Thirst Public Programme
2018
+


May - June 2018


Ridder Thirst Public Programme

29 May 2018

18:30

Screening of Ridder Thirst (2015-2018) by Abri de Swardt and Nefandus (2013) by Carlos Motta, followed by a discussion with Bettina Malcomess and Dr Saarah Jappie.

De Swardt's Ridder Thirst (2015-2018), fantasises the First River in Stellenbosch into disappearance, perceiving that “if the ocean is the space of coloniality, the river is that of settlement”.  By snaking from the mouth of the river at Macassar Beach – a former separate amenity for people classified as ‘Coloured’ under apartheid, and named after the 17th century Eastern Indonesian exile, Shaykh Yusuf of Makassar – to Stellenbosch – named after Simon van der Stel who set it aside for settler colonial burghers distancing themselves from the Dutch East India Company at the first river he encountered after Cape Town – the work takes the span of the river as marker of extreme socio-political discrepancies. These incongruities are evident in the photographs of Afrikaner student couples captured at the river in the sixties and seventies by Alice Mertens, images which are revisited and intervened within Ridder Thirst.
 
In Nefandus two men travel by canoe down the Don Diego river in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in the Colombian Caribbean, a landscape of “wild” beauty. The men, an indigenous man and a Spanish speaking man, tell stories about “pecados nefandos” (unspeakable sins, abominable crimes); acts of sodomy that took place in the Americas during the conquest. It has been documented that Spanish conquistadores used sex as a weapon of domination, but what is known about homoerotic pre-hispanic traditions? How did Christian morality, as taught by the Catholic missions and propagated through war during the Conquest, transform the indigenous relationship to sex? Nefandus attentively looks at the landscape, its movement and its sounds for clues of stories that remain untold and have been largely ignored and stigmatized in historical accounts.

16 June 2018

16:30

Walkabout with Abri de Swardt and Ridder Thirst LP listening session, facilitated by Athi Mongezeleli Joja

The Ridder Thirst 12’’ LP foregrounds listening as decolonial act. The double vinyl record has commissions by artists, student activists, academics, musicians and writers Stephané E. Conradie, Metode en Tegniek, Athi Mongezeleli Joja, Pierre Fouché, Khanyisile Mbongwa, Rachel Collet, Abri de Swardt and Alida Eloff. As sonic forum, the record approaches collective voice with desire and disassociation, proposing an ‘unwriting’ of space.

17 June 2018

17:45

Performance Words Beneath Bridges, written by Abri de Swardt and performed by Quinting Manning and Danie Putter

Words Beneath Bridges, a 40-minute performance first developed and realised at The Centre for the Less Good Idea, and featuring performers Quinton Manning and Danie Putter, invokes graffiti scrawled beneath overpasses and along rivers as bardic writings at, and of, the margins. De Swardt draws from text he saw in 2014 spray-painted beneath Coetzenberg Bridge at the Eersterivier in Stellenbosch – a site documented by Mertens – reading Real EYES Realize Real Lies.

(rhythmanalysis) from within, without, and against
2017
+
Kesivan Naidoo, Silo Andrian, Carlo Mombelli


October - November


(rhythmanalysis) from within, without and against

The first cycle of (rhythmanalysis) from within, without and against brought together musicians and artists from South Africa and Madagascar to respond to Henri Lefebvre's proposition of the rhythmanalyst as a figure that is "capable of listening to a house, a street, a town, as one listens to a symphony opera".

26 and 28 October 2017

20:00

Silo Andrian (MAD) and Kesivan Naidoo perform at Afrikan Freedom Station

01 November 2017

20.30

Silo Andrian, Kesivan Naidoo, Carlo Mombelli perform at The Orbit

Guest appearance by Mandla Mlangeni

Programme
Year

+

BEAMS Exhibition & Workshop
Nina Barnett & Jeremy Bolen
May

Nina Barnett (ZA) and Jeremy Bolen (USA) present BEAMS, a year-long research project which began with a residency at POOL for the month of July 2019 and culminates in an exhibition in May 2020 that explores a facet of Johannesburg’s past and future time, the impact of in/visibility, and the edges of knowledge. 

Beams will consider the distant past (geological deep time) and it’s connections to the earth’s emerging future (the anthropocene). The project will attempt to extend our sensorial capabilities and in doing so bring attention to what extending our senses allow us: collective experience, belief, an understanding of our surroundings. Of particular interest for the artists is understanding how the anthropocene epoch has embedded an archive of traces in human bodies, and how these sub-atomic particles we are immersed in can become visible and further understood. To this end, Barnett and Bolen have extended their research into a multidimensional exhibition that includes an array on extra-disciplinary collaborations with practitioners from the worlds of science, activism and the humanities.

Beams forms part of a new research focus undertaken by POOL, which investigates the diversity of engagement that artists have developed to climate crisis - be it as the anthropocene, the capitalocene, or the cthulhucene; as well as newer articulations that are emerging and being shaped across specific contexts.

View all images

+

Holding Water
Ocean Thinking
25 October - 31 March 2020

Bianca Baldi, Jonathan Cane, Shane Cooper and Thandi Nthuli, Zayaan Khan, Nolan Oswald Dennis, Abri de Swardt and Sinethemba Twalo

A programme of workshops, reading groups, film screenings and installations and artist presentations that think the oceanic from land-locked Johannesburg, commissioned by POOL and the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South, WiSER and further supported by Business and Arts South Africa and Ellis House Art Building.

Johannesburg is a landlocked city, the largest city in the world not located on a major body of water. But this dry city is oddly oceanic. With half of the cargo received by the ports at Durban and Cape Town landing at the container terminal in Johannesburg, it is known as the largest dry port in the world. Its geological history is as a prehistoric ocean floor, and its urban fabric runs along a continental watershed, with rainwater running from its side to distant coasts. Johannesburg may also, in the future, become waterlogged again, as a dry island amid rising seas or sunk into acid mine water. From the ruined Three Ships restaurant at the Carlton Hotel to the South African Institute for Maritime Research (a shadowy apartheid-era paramilitary force), the old SAS navy base in Wemmer Pan and the model of the Dromedaris in Santarama Miniland - Johannesburg is littered with oceanic allusions.

How to think the ocean from this dry city, and how to think the city oceanically?

The Oceanic Humanities for the Global South WiSER and POOL are collaborating on a research and exhibition project focused on the politics and poetics of oceanic flows, from the perspective of land-locked Johannesburg. POOL’s ongoing ‘Ocean Thinking’ project postulates that a large part of the political, social and economic reality of the post-colonial global South has been and continues to be produced in and through its relationship to the ocean. Oceanic Humanities aims to decolonize histories of oceanic space while providing new approaches to literary and aesthetic understandings of water. Their collaboration draws together academic, literary and cultural studies with practice-based research.

The project tests the framing of academic, artistic and exhibition practice through destabilising temporal and spatial rhythms that constitute the anticipated forms of exhibitions and lectures through a series of programmed events that are staged between new and full moon cycles, and across past and future oceanic geographies.

The public programme includes performance lectures, screenings, live musical performances, immersive installations, live readings, and public city walks lead by artists and scholars, as well as a two-day workshop at WiSER, Wits University, Johannesburg.

View all images

+

BEAMS
Nina Barnett & Jeremy Bolen
1-31 July

Research Residency

Theoretical particle physics, and particularly neutrino research, happen at the edge of knowledge - a space of projection, extrapolation and the theoretical. This way of thinking is also relevant when considering the impact of the distant past (deep time), the relation between equidistant and intersecting presents, and the emerging future of the earth (the anthropocene/capitalocene). Nina Barnett and Jeremy Bolen, in collaboration with POOL, present Beams, a year-long project beginning with a July residency at POOL and culminating in a May 2020 exhibition that will explore past and future time, the impact of visibility, and the edges of knowledge.

Beams will attempt to extend our sensorial capabilities and in doing so bring attention to what extending our senses may allow us: collective experience, belief, an understanding of our surroundings. To this end, Barnett and Bolen intend to extend their research into a multidimensional exhibition that includes an array of extra-disciplinary collaborations with practitioners from the worlds of science, activism and the humanities.

 

 

View all images

+

3 Dreams Of The Sinking World
James Webb
13 April-22 June

3 Dreams Of The Sinking World is a filmic meditation by James Webb on the Carlton Hotel in downtown Johannesburg. An icon of wealth and luxury when it was built in the 1960s, and a symbol of Johannesburg’s modern global aspirations during the height of apartheid, the hotel was never financially successful and was finally closed in the 1990s. The building remains closed, in a state of suspension, while the city around it has changed. 3 Dreams of the Sinking World consists of a sound installation and a five channel film installation of footage taken inside the hotel in 2015 and 2018 respectively. The exhibition includes recorded audio narrative pieces commissioned by POOL especially for the exhibition.

Webb’s filmic vignettes reveal a gradual scopic study of the architectural and infrastructural elements that remain as they intersect with peeling design elements, dead facilities, and exhausted organic matter. The first installation presents footage from a drone camera tracking an expired palm tree that has been abandoned on the former rooftop pool and entertainment area of the hotel. The second moves to the core of the building with a camera slowly tracking back along the corridor of the 26th floor in a movement that references the famous "corridor" scene from The Shining. The final piece contains footage that follows Shoes Mthembu, a security guard, as he descends 30-flights of stairs inside the hotel. Lit only by a torch, Mthembu leads the viewer from the roof to the basement. Intersecting all the filmic vignettes is the sound of Johannesburg as filtered through the physical husk of the building - recordings made by placing a series of microphones, including sensitive contact microphones to tap into the vibrations of the walls and windows, throughout the hotel.

Commissioned narrative responses are recorded and voiced by Lindiwe Matshikiza and broadcast alongside the films in the exhibition space. These responses are realised by poet Khanya Mashabela, scholar and critic Athi Mongezeleli Joja, and curator and writer Mika Conradie. These pieces allow for an expanded reading of the Carlton Hotel, awaking the suspended character, history and psychology of the building through narrative, personal accounts and political theory.

This project was conceptualised in 2015, and first exhibited at the Norrtälje Konsthall, Sweden, in 2018. The artist would like to thank TransNet, and Benji Liebmann and Helén Hedensjö for their logistical and curatorial assistance respectively.

James Webb is an interdisciplinary, conceptual artist whose work ranges from site-specific interventions in public spaces to large-scale installations in galleries and museums. Informed by his studies in advertising, comparative religion, and theatre, he often makes use of ellipsis, displacement, and détournement to explore the nature of belief and the dynamics of communication in our contemporary world. Webb’s practice employs a variety of media including audio, installation, and text; referencing aspects of the conceptualist and minimalist traditions. Recent solo presentations include the Art Institute of Chicago, United States of America, 2018; Norrtälje Konsthall, Norrtälje, Sweden, 2018; Galerie Imane Farès, Paris, France, 2016; Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, United Kingdom, 2016; Hordaland Kunstsenter, Bergen, Norway, 2015; blank projects, Cape Town, South Africa, 2014; CentroCentro, Madrid, Spain, 2013; Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2012; and MAC, Birmingham, United Kingdom, 2010. Major group exhibitions include the 13th Biennial of Dakar (2018), 4th Prospect Triennial of New Orleans (2017), Documenta 14 (2017), 13th Biennial of Sharjah (2017), 12th Bienal de la Habana (2015), 55th Biennale di Venezia (2013), the 3rd Marrakech Biennale (2009), and the 8th Biennale d’Art Contemporain de Lyon (2007). Webb’s work has been acquired by numerous international collections, and his projects have been written about and published in “Xenagogue” (Hordaland Kunstsenter, 2015) and the forthcoming monograph “…” (blank projects, 2019). Born in 1975 in Kimberley, South Africa, Webb lives and works in Cape Town and Stockholm.

This exhibition is supported by the National Arts Council of South Africa (NAC).

REVIEW ON ARTTHROB BY NOLAN STEVENS

REVIEW ON BUBBLEGUM CLUB BY MARCIA ELIZABETH

View all images

+

Starter Room

1 March - 30 March

SHANE COOPER & MANDLA MLANGENI | NOLAN OSWALD DENNIS | ZAYAAN KHAN

Starter Room is a lab and mediateque in which plant relations, structures and substrates are framed as potential sites for social, political and biological transmission and through which unheard and unexpected histories and knowledges might be accessed. The name “Starter Room” is inspired by the cultivation of wild yeast that is supported and fed through a fermented mixture of flour, water and naturally occurring bacteria, originally used to make bread rise before the invention of commercial instant yeast. Motivated by the fomenting intersection of microbial and macro ecologies in which plants, cells, spores, and rhizomatic extensions develop, Starter Room is organised as a scene of public encounter through which discursive acts, relations, knowledge production and sharing take place. 

The project considers the following:

Submarine microbiology, fauna and flora

Theories of bacterial resistance

Bacteria and plant cells as political agents

Matter and life forms organised around and through plant matter (soil, minerals, waters, insects)

Organic decay, ghosting and afterlives

The scales and rhythms of plant progression

Cultivation and colonialism

Classification and naming of plants and their relation to the environment

Macro and micro histories of processing, eating, tasting and digesting plant matter

Gardens as archival thickets

Plants and microbes as witness

Pharmacopeia and herbalism

Economic and diplomatic botany

Urban agriculture

Food security

Plant migration 

Indigenous knowledge and alternative medicine

Starter Room is supported by the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) in association with the Nedbank Arts Affinity.

View all images

+

Theatrum Botanicum
Uriel Orlow
4 September – 24 November

Using the media of film, photography, installation and sound, and working from the dual vantage points of South Africa and Europe, the Uriel Orlow’s Theatrum Botanicum considers plants as both witnesses and actors in history, and as dynamic agents—connecting nature and humans, rural and cosmopolitan medicine, tradition and modernity—across different geographies, histories and systems of knowledge, with a variety of curative, spiritual and economic powers.

The works variously explore botanical nationalism and other legacies of colonialism, plant migration and invasion, biopiracy, flower diplomacy during apartheid, the garden planted by Nelson Mandela and his fellow inmates on Robben Island prison, as well as the role of classification and naming of plants. Khadija von Zinnenburg Carrol describes how the project looks to the botanical world as a stage on which these histories interact as agents: The project developed out of a research residency undertaken in 2014 and evolved through successive trips between 2015 and 2017 in which Orlow undertook extensive research in archives, and collaborated with traditional medicine practitioners as well as those with legal and botanical expertise, traversing Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.

The project has evolved over several iterations including: The Showroom, London (2016); EVA International (2016) curated by Koyo Kouoh; the 2017 Sharjah Biennal 13 (where it won a major award); and Kunsthalle St Gallen, Switzerland (2018). The South African iteration sees the project return to its geography of origin, giving local audiences and practitioners - some of whom helped shape the project - an opportunity to critically and generatively respond to the body of work. The project will be hosted between POOL and the Market Photo Workshop, in Johannesburg, the Institute for the Creative Arts (ICA) in Cape Town and the Durban Art Gallery. This project forms part of a special programme of Pro Helvetia Johannesburg, the Southern African liaison office of the Swiss Arts Council, celebrating twenty years of collaboration and exchange with the region. For more information go here.

REVIEW IN THE MAIL AND GUARDIAN BY KWANELE SOSIBO

REVIEW IN RIOT MATERIAL BY ROBIN SHER

REVIEW IN ARTTHROB BY NKGOPOLENG MOLOI

REVIEW IN BUBBLEGUM CLUB BY CHRISTA DEE

View all images

+

PALM PALM Palmar
Curated by Mika Conradie
18 July - 22 August

YTO BARRADA | SIMON GUSH | MADEYOULOOK | SEBASTIAN MEJIA | LUCAS ODAHARA | KARIN TAN + SKYE QUADLING

PALM PALM Palmar is a project and exhibition that looks at the imported palm tree as a vector for producing narratives and imaginaries within colonial and postcolonial Johannesburg. Imported from island “utopias” across the Pacific Ocean and South-East Asia during South Africa’s Apartheid regime, the palm trees of Johannesburg complicate city imaginaries by blurring temporal and geographical frames and desires. How do we understand the appropriation of the palm as a colonial paradisical dream? How do we recuperate the palm tree from this violent dream, within the entangled becoming of a postcolonial city? Can the tree speak?

PALM PALM Palmar involves producing propositions around place making, entering the question of spatial and historical organisation through flora. Shifting focus from the architecture of a built environment towards the architecture and infrastructure of colonial tropical imagination, landscaping regimes and plant structures, the project looks at how meaning and history has been produced under human-plant relations and what the role of specific plant-life is in assembling or eliding popular narratives.

The title of the project, PALM PALM Palmar brings attention to the linguistic history of the word “palm”, which is also a term for a tricksters’ “sleight of hand”, or “to palm” something away. “Palmae”, as they are called in Latin botanical classification, are also named after the opened surface of the human hand which is not only a flat plane area, but also what is referred to in medical terms as palmar – “of or pertaining to the underside of an appendage”.

“Palm” is thus a gesture, a territory and a direction. 

This exhibition is supported by the National Arts Council of South Africa (NAC).

View all images

+

Ridder Thirst
Abri de Swardt
26 April - 17 June

Ridder Thirst by Abri de Swardt explores the restorative agency and limits of queer youth, facing white supremacist denialism with an inventory of its continued effects. The exhibition, comprising new work in video, photography, sculpture, sound and performance, marks the South African artist’s first solo exhibition in Johannesburg and the launch of the Ridder Thirst 12’’ LP.

As the exhibition’s starting point, De Swardt turns to photographs of Afrikaner student couples captured at the First River in Stellenbosch in the sixties and seventies by Alice Mertens. The Namibian-German ethnographic photographer was the first tertiary tutor of the lens in South Africa and Lecturer in Photography at Stellenbosch University from the mid nineteen-sixties.

Mertens’ images capture a moment of historical incongruity, as De Swardt notes: “whereas today’s Fallist movement exposes the fallacy of the generational designation ‘Born Free’, Mertens’ white ethnography spotlights students ‘Born Just Before’ or ‘Born Into’ apartheid”. The exhibition takes its title from De Swardt’s video, Ridder Thirst (2015-2018), in which the artist fantasises the Stellenbosch river into disappearance, perceiving that “if the ocean is the space of coloniality, the river is that of settlement”. By snaking from the mouth of the First River at Macassar Beach – a former separate amenity for people classified as ‘Coloured’ under apartheid, and named after the 17th century Eastern Indonesian exile, Shaykh Yusuf of Makassar – to Stellenbosch, named after Simon van der Stel who set it aside for settler colonial burghers distancing themselves from the Dutch East India Company at the first river he encountered after Cape Town – the work takes the span of the river as marker of extreme socio-political discrepancies.

For De Swardt, these geographic tensions cannot be extracted from the shifting status of tertiary education, specifically the teaching of photography as a discursive framing of subjects. As such, the artist approaches the sites of Mertens’ images along the banks of the river, inserting motion-tracked contemporary media from Die Matie student newspaper and advertising for the aspirational clothing brand Stellies amongst others, as mediations on spatial traumas which raise questions of land ownership, and of landscape, in relation to the lens. Here the vagaries of the archival gaze is met with the insatiability of eroticism as De Swardt occupies and inverts the ‘straight’ canons of documentary photography and essay film, asking how we can unlearn historic images that seek to define us.

In his photographic series, Streams (2015 - ongoing), De Swardt relocates a darkroom to a riverbank, staging differentiated technologies of queer visibility as intransigent to notions of water as ‘natural’, and photography as ‘neutral’, phenomena. De Swardt is drawn to the ‘Stop Bath’ in film processing - when images ‘stop developing’, a procedure which could be understood as the violence of fixing the fluid emergence of an image.

This exhibition is supported by the National Arts Council of South Africa (NAC).

Abri de Swardt (b. 1988, lives and works in Johannesburg) is an artist and writer who works across video, photography, costume, sound, sculpture, and performance. He is concerned with the difficult visibility and audibility of queer and Southern subjects as proxies of what Michael Taussig terms “effervescent”, “no sooner emerged than” disappearing, the “exact opposite…of monuments”. De Swardt holds a MFA in Fine Art with distinction from Goldsmiths, University of London (2014), and a BA in Fine Art from Stellenbosch University (2010). De Swardt has realised solo exhibitions at White Cubicle, London (SPF Matthew Barney, 2015); MOTInternational Projects, London (Catapult Screensaver, 2013); and blank projects, Cape Town (To Walk on Water, 2011). ​​Recent exhibitions and screenings include writing for the eye, writing for the ear, The Centre for the Less Good Idea, Johannesburg (2018), These Rotten Words at Chapter, Cardiff (2017), Blend the Acclaim of Your Chant with the Timbrels, Jerwood Staging Series, Jerwood Space, London (2016), Bloomberg New Contemporaries, One Thoresby Street, Nottingham, and Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Sightings, KZNSA, Durban; Poetics of Relation, Point of Order, Johannesburg and LiveInYourHead, Geneva; and Men Gather, in Speech…, Cooper Gallery, Dundee (all 2015). Forthcoming exhibitions include Coded Encounters, Gallery Graça Brandāo, Lisbon, and a residency at Rupert, Vilnius.

REVIEWS AND ARTICLES ON RIDDER THIRST:

REVIEW ON BUBBLEGUM CLUB BY GEMMA HART

REVIEW ON KLYNTJI BY FRANCOIS LYON-CACHET

ARTICLE BY BAVISHA PANCHIA ON AFRICANAH.ORG

View all images

+

(rhythmanalysis) from within, without, and against

1 October - 30 November

KESIVAN NAIDOO | SILO ANDRIAN | CARLO MOMBELLI | NELISIWE XABA | EDUARDI CACHUCHO | MADEYOULOOK | NAADIRA PATEL

In “Elements of Rhythmanalysis”, Marxist philosopher Henri Lefebvre introduces a method with which to connect  space and time in the comprehension of everyday life. Lefebvre puts forward that the figure of “a rhythmanalysist is capable of listening to a house, a street, a town, as one listens to a symphony opera”, and positions the body as the first site of political rhythmic understanding – a metronome that moves between the “natural” and biological force of circadian rhythms and the repetitions and cycles of capitalist production and political struggle. As a tool of analysis, rhythm opens up connections between psychological, biological, sociological and political forces, cutting across and intersecting divergent systems of knowledge and understandings of time. Thinking through daily rhythms provides an opportunity to test how disciplines and practices sit in the world, how perceptive and responsive a practice is to occurrences and events in locales and as part of global networks, allowing us to explore how both power and resistance permeate the everyday. Rhythmanalysis is also a testing ground for the production and political work of counter-rhythms and arrhythmic tempos that might disrupt the banal repetitions of power structures, structural inequalities and hierarchies. 

POOL is interested in the potential of rhythm as a destabilising force, where rhythm might be used as a form of resistance against disciplining social structures and knowledge boundaries and as a tool for rethinking and re-applying artistic practice. As such POOL has, since 2015, been developing and conceptualising a research project investigating the potentials of rhythmanalysis as a tool for artistic production and thinking, unfolding artistic and institutional practice as a rhythmic organising form and propositioning it with contrasting cycles, pulsations, utterances, mobilities and readings. A major field of practice within our research around counter-rhythms is jazz, a simultaneous form and platform for re-negotiating realities, resistance, world making and collaboration. Acknowledging that the South African art world has very few spaces for collaborative art making, thinking and curating, we look towards jazz as a form that embodies improvisation and risk-taking as a methodological starting point. Jazz is a form of liveness that expects and produces negotiations between various players “on the spot”, so to speak. This negotiation also extends to listeners (the audience) who take on a certain responsibility to “keep time” – constantly catching it, dropping it, or holding it – along with the musicians. The listener is thus implicated in the liveness unfolding around them. Through shifting the rhythms of modernity and through producing counter-rhythms or a-rhythmic interventions (through protest, music, jazz, improvisation, dance, foot-dragging, or withdrawal) we can read resistance, and produce modes of social organisation.

This project commissioned South African visual artists and musicians to produce new artistic works that respond to the political, social and collaborative potentials of rhythm. The work was presented in a series of public moments including workshops, film screenings, live jazz performances and readings.

This project was supported by Pro Helvetia Johannesburg, National Arts Council of South Africa, Concerts SA, and Institut Francais - South Africa

View all images




































instagram
twitter
facebook
newsletter
projects
programme
about
news
instagram
twitter
facebook
newsletter

Projects

Current
Past

Holding Water: Ocean Thinking | 2019

Bianca Baldi, Jonathan Cane, Shane Cooper and Thandi Nthuli, Zayaan Khan, Nolan Oswald Dennis, Abri de Swardt and Sinethemba Twalo

A programme of workshops, reading groups, film screenings and installations and artist presentations that think the oceanic from land-locked Johannesburg, commissioned by POOL and the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South, WiSER and further supported by Business and Arts South Africa and Ellis House Art Building.

Johannesburg is a landlocked city, the largest city in the world not located on a major body of water. But this dry city is oddly oceanic. With half of the cargo received by the ports at Durban and Cape Town landing at the container terminal in Johannesburg, it is known as the largest dry port in the world. Its geological history is as a prehistoric ocean floor, and its urban fabric runs along a continental watershed, with rainwater running from its side to distant coasts. Johannesburg may also, in the future, become waterlogged again, as a dry island amid rising seas or sunk into acid mine water. From the ruined Three Ships restaurant at the Carlton Hotel to the South African Institute for Maritime Research (a shadowy apartheid-era paramilitary force), the old SAS navy base in Wemmer Pan and the model of the Dromedaris in Santarama Miniland - Johannesburg is littered with oceanic allusions.

How to think the ocean from this dry city, and how to think the city oceanically?

The Oceanic Humanities for the Global South WiSER and POOL are collaborating on a research and exhibition project focused on the politics and poetics of oceanic flows, from the perspective of land-locked Johannesburg. POOL’s ongoing ‘Ocean Thinking’ project postulates that a large part of the political, social and economic reality of the post-colonial global South has been and continues to be produced in and through its relationship to the ocean. Oceanic Humanities aims to decolonize histories of oceanic space while providing new approaches to literary and aesthetic understandings of water. Their collaboration draws together academic, literary and cultural studies with practice-based research.

The project tests the framing of academic, artistic and exhibition practice through destabilising temporal and spatial rhythms that constitute the anticipated forms of exhibitions and lectures through a series of programmed events that are staged between new and full moon cycles, and across past and future oceanic geographies.

The public programme includes performance lectures, screenings, live musical performances, immersive installations, live readings, and public city walks lead by artists and scholars, as well as a two-day workshop at WiSER, Wits University, Johannesburg.

BEAMS: Nina Barnett & Jeremy Bolen | 2019

Research Residency

Theoretical particle physics, and particularly neutrino research, happen at the edge of knowledge - a space of projection, extrapolation and the theoretical. This way of thinking is also relevant when considering the impact of the distant past (deep time), the relation between equidistant and intersecting presents, and the emerging future of the earth (the anthropocene/capitalocene). Nina Barnett and Jeremy Bolen, in collaboration with POOL, present Beams, a year-long project beginning with a July residency at POOL and culminating in a May 2020 exhibition that will explore past and future time, the impact of visibility, and the edges of knowledge.

Beams will attempt to extend our sensorial capabilities and in doing so bring attention to what extending our senses may allow us: collective experience, belief, an understanding of our surroundings. To this end, Barnett and Bolen intend to extend their research into a multidimensional exhibition that includes an array of extra-disciplinary collaborations with practitioners from the worlds of science, activism and the humanities.

 

 

3 Dreams Of The Sinking World: James Webb | 2019

3 Dreams Of The Sinking World is a filmic meditation by James Webb on the Carlton Hotel in downtown Johannesburg. An icon of wealth and luxury when it was built in the 1960s, and a symbol of Johannesburg’s modern global aspirations during the height of apartheid, the hotel was never financially successful and was finally closed in the 1990s. The building remains closed, in a state of suspension, while the city around it has changed. 3 Dreams of the Sinking World consists of a sound installation and a five channel film installation of footage taken inside the hotel in 2015 and 2018 respectively. The exhibition includes recorded audio narrative pieces commissioned by POOL especially for the exhibition.

Webb’s filmic vignettes reveal a gradual scopic study of the architectural and infrastructural elements that remain as they intersect with peeling design elements, dead facilities, and exhausted organic matter. The first installation presents footage from a drone camera tracking an expired palm tree that has been abandoned on the former rooftop pool and entertainment area of the hotel. The second moves to the core of the building with a camera slowly tracking back along the corridor of the 26th floor in a movement that references the famous "corridor" scene from The Shining. The final piece contains footage that follows Shoes Mthembu, a security guard, as he descends 30-flights of stairs inside the hotel. Lit only by a torch, Mthembu leads the viewer from the roof to the basement. Intersecting all the filmic vignettes is the sound of Johannesburg as filtered through the physical husk of the building - recordings made by placing a series of microphones, including sensitive contact microphones to tap into the vibrations of the walls and windows, throughout the hotel.

Commissioned narrative responses are recorded and voiced by Lindiwe Matshikiza and broadcast alongside the films in the exhibition space. These responses are realised by poet Khanya Mashabela, scholar and critic Athi Mongezeleli Joja, and curator and writer Mika Conradie. These pieces allow for an expanded reading of the Carlton Hotel, awaking the suspended character, history and psychology of the building through narrative, personal accounts and political theory.

This project was conceptualised in 2015, and first exhibited at the Norrtälje Konsthall, Sweden, in 2018. The artist would like to thank TransNet, and Benji Liebmann and Helén Hedensjö for their logistical and curatorial assistance respectively.

James Webb is an interdisciplinary, conceptual artist whose work ranges from site-specific interventions in public spaces to large-scale installations in galleries and museums. Informed by his studies in advertising, comparative religion, and theatre, he often makes use of ellipsis, displacement, and détournement to explore the nature of belief and the dynamics of communication in our contemporary world. Webb’s practice employs a variety of media including audio, installation, and text; referencing aspects of the conceptualist and minimalist traditions. Recent solo presentations include the Art Institute of Chicago, United States of America, 2018; Norrtälje Konsthall, Norrtälje, Sweden, 2018; Galerie Imane Farès, Paris, France, 2016; Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, United Kingdom, 2016; Hordaland Kunstsenter, Bergen, Norway, 2015; blank projects, Cape Town, South Africa, 2014; CentroCentro, Madrid, Spain, 2013; Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2012; and MAC, Birmingham, United Kingdom, 2010. Major group exhibitions include the 13th Biennial of Dakar (2018), 4th Prospect Triennial of New Orleans (2017), Documenta 14 (2017), 13th Biennial of Sharjah (2017), 12th Bienal de la Habana (2015), 55th Biennale di Venezia (2013), the 3rd Marrakech Biennale (2009), and the 8th Biennale d’Art Contemporain de Lyon (2007). Webb’s work has been acquired by numerous international collections, and his projects have been written about and published in “Xenagogue” (Hordaland Kunstsenter, 2015) and the forthcoming monograph “…” (blank projects, 2019). Born in 1975 in Kimberley, South Africa, Webb lives and works in Cape Town and Stockholm.

This exhibition is supported by the National Arts Council of South Africa (NAC).

REVIEW ON ARTTHROB BY NOLAN STEVENS

REVIEW ON BUBBLEGUM CLUB BY MARCIA ELIZABETH

Starter Room: | 2019

SHANE COOPER & MANDLA MLANGENI | NOLAN OSWALD DENNIS | ZAYAAN KHAN

Starter Room is a lab and mediateque in which plant relations, structures and substrates are framed as potential sites for social, political and biological transmission and through which unheard and unexpected histories and knowledges might be accessed. The name “Starter Room” is inspired by the cultivation of wild yeast that is supported and fed through a fermented mixture of flour, water and naturally occurring bacteria, originally used to make bread rise before the invention of commercial instant yeast. Motivated by the fomenting intersection of microbial and macro ecologies in which plants, cells, spores, and rhizomatic extensions develop, Starter Room is organised as a scene of public encounter through which discursive acts, relations, knowledge production and sharing take place. 

The project considers the following:

Submarine microbiology, fauna and flora

Theories of bacterial resistance

Bacteria and plant cells as political agents

Matter and life forms organised around and through plant matter (soil, minerals, waters, insects)

Organic decay, ghosting and afterlives

The scales and rhythms of plant progression

Cultivation and colonialism

Classification and naming of plants and their relation to the environment

Macro and micro histories of processing, eating, tasting and digesting plant matter

Gardens as archival thickets

Plants and microbes as witness

Pharmacopeia and herbalism

Economic and diplomatic botany

Urban agriculture

Food security

Plant migration 

Indigenous knowledge and alternative medicine

Starter Room is supported by the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) in association with the Nedbank Arts Affinity.

Theatrum Botanicum: Uriel Orlow | 2018

Using the media of film, photography, installation and sound, and working from the dual vantage points of South Africa and Europe, the Uriel Orlow’s Theatrum Botanicum considers plants as both witnesses and actors in history, and as dynamic agents—connecting nature and humans, rural and cosmopolitan medicine, tradition and modernity—across different geographies, histories and systems of knowledge, with a variety of curative, spiritual and economic powers.

The works variously explore botanical nationalism and other legacies of colonialism, plant migration and invasion, biopiracy, flower diplomacy during apartheid, the garden planted by Nelson Mandela and his fellow inmates on Robben Island prison, as well as the role of classification and naming of plants. Khadija von Zinnenburg Carrol describes how the project looks to the botanical world as a stage on which these histories interact as agents: The project developed out of a research residency undertaken in 2014 and evolved through successive trips between 2015 and 2017 in which Orlow undertook extensive research in archives, and collaborated with traditional medicine practitioners as well as those with legal and botanical expertise, traversing Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.

The project has evolved over several iterations including: The Showroom, London (2016); EVA International (2016) curated by Koyo Kouoh; the 2017 Sharjah Biennal 13 (where it won a major award); and Kunsthalle St Gallen, Switzerland (2018). The South African iteration sees the project return to its geography of origin, giving local audiences and practitioners - some of whom helped shape the project - an opportunity to critically and generatively respond to the body of work. The project will be hosted between POOL and the Market Photo Workshop, in Johannesburg, the Institute for the Creative Arts (ICA) in Cape Town and the Durban Art Gallery. This project forms part of a special programme of Pro Helvetia Johannesburg, the Southern African liaison office of the Swiss Arts Council, celebrating twenty years of collaboration and exchange with the region. For more information go here.

REVIEW IN THE MAIL AND GUARDIAN BY KWANELE SOSIBO

REVIEW IN RIOT MATERIAL BY ROBIN SHER

REVIEW IN ARTTHROB BY NKGOPOLENG MOLOI

REVIEW IN BUBBLEGUM CLUB BY CHRISTA DEE

PALM PALM Palmar: Curated by Mika Conradie | 2018

YTO BARRADA | SIMON GUSH | MADEYOULOOK | SEBASTIAN MEJIA | LUCAS ODAHARA | KARIN TAN + SKYE QUADLING

PALM PALM Palmar is a project and exhibition that looks at the imported palm tree as a vector for producing narratives and imaginaries within colonial and postcolonial Johannesburg. Imported from island “utopias” across the Pacific Ocean and South-East Asia during South Africa’s Apartheid regime, the palm trees of Johannesburg complicate city imaginaries by blurring temporal and geographical frames and desires. How do we understand the appropriation of the palm as a colonial paradisical dream? How do we recuperate the palm tree from this violent dream, within the entangled becoming of a postcolonial city? Can the tree speak?

PALM PALM Palmar involves producing propositions around place making, entering the question of spatial and historical organisation through flora. Shifting focus from the architecture of a built environment towards the architecture and infrastructure of colonial tropical imagination, landscaping regimes and plant structures, the project looks at how meaning and history has been produced under human-plant relations and what the role of specific plant-life is in assembling or eliding popular narratives.

The title of the project, PALM PALM Palmar brings attention to the linguistic history of the word “palm”, which is also a term for a tricksters’ “sleight of hand”, or “to palm” something away. “Palmae”, as they are called in Latin botanical classification, are also named after the opened surface of the human hand which is not only a flat plane area, but also what is referred to in medical terms as palmar – “of or pertaining to the underside of an appendage”.

“Palm” is thus a gesture, a territory and a direction. 

This exhibition is supported by the National Arts Council of South Africa (NAC).

Ridder Thirst: Abri de Swardt | 2018

Ridder Thirst by Abri de Swardt explores the restorative agency and limits of queer youth, facing white supremacist denialism with an inventory of its continued effects. The exhibition, comprising new work in video, photography, sculpture, sound and performance, marks the South African artist’s first solo exhibition in Johannesburg and the launch of the Ridder Thirst 12’’ LP.

As the exhibition’s starting point, De Swardt turns to photographs of Afrikaner student couples captured at the First River in Stellenbosch in the sixties and seventies by Alice Mertens. The Namibian-German ethnographic photographer was the first tertiary tutor of the lens in South Africa and Lecturer in Photography at Stellenbosch University from the mid nineteen-sixties.

Mertens’ images capture a moment of historical incongruity, as De Swardt notes: “whereas today’s Fallist movement exposes the fallacy of the generational designation ‘Born Free’, Mertens’ white ethnography spotlights students ‘Born Just Before’ or ‘Born Into’ apartheid”. The exhibition takes its title from De Swardt’s video, Ridder Thirst (2015-2018), in which the artist fantasises the Stellenbosch river into disappearance, perceiving that “if the ocean is the space of coloniality, the river is that of settlement”. By snaking from the mouth of the First River at Macassar Beach – a former separate amenity for people classified as ‘Coloured’ under apartheid, and named after the 17th century Eastern Indonesian exile, Shaykh Yusuf of Makassar – to Stellenbosch, named after Simon van der Stel who set it aside for settler colonial burghers distancing themselves from the Dutch East India Company at the first river he encountered after Cape Town – the work takes the span of the river as marker of extreme socio-political discrepancies.

For De Swardt, these geographic tensions cannot be extracted from the shifting status of tertiary education, specifically the teaching of photography as a discursive framing of subjects. As such, the artist approaches the sites of Mertens’ images along the banks of the river, inserting motion-tracked contemporary media from Die Matie student newspaper and advertising for the aspirational clothing brand Stellies amongst others, as mediations on spatial traumas which raise questions of land ownership, and of landscape, in relation to the lens. Here the vagaries of the archival gaze is met with the insatiability of eroticism as De Swardt occupies and inverts the ‘straight’ canons of documentary photography and essay film, asking how we can unlearn historic images that seek to define us.

In his photographic series, Streams (2015 - ongoing), De Swardt relocates a darkroom to a riverbank, staging differentiated technologies of queer visibility as intransigent to notions of water as ‘natural’, and photography as ‘neutral’, phenomena. De Swardt is drawn to the ‘Stop Bath’ in film processing - when images ‘stop developing’, a procedure which could be understood as the violence of fixing the fluid emergence of an image.

This exhibition is supported by the National Arts Council of South Africa (NAC).

Abri de Swardt (b. 1988, lives and works in Johannesburg) is an artist and writer who works across video, photography, costume, sound, sculpture, and performance. He is concerned with the difficult visibility and audibility of queer and Southern subjects as proxies of what Michael Taussig terms “effervescent”, “no sooner emerged than” disappearing, the “exact opposite…of monuments”. De Swardt holds a MFA in Fine Art with distinction from Goldsmiths, University of London (2014), and a BA in Fine Art from Stellenbosch University (2010). De Swardt has realised solo exhibitions at White Cubicle, London (SPF Matthew Barney, 2015); MOTInternational Projects, London (Catapult Screensaver, 2013); and blank projects, Cape Town (To Walk on Water, 2011). ​​Recent exhibitions and screenings include writing for the eye, writing for the ear, The Centre for the Less Good Idea, Johannesburg (2018), These Rotten Words at Chapter, Cardiff (2017), Blend the Acclaim of Your Chant with the Timbrels, Jerwood Staging Series, Jerwood Space, London (2016), Bloomberg New Contemporaries, One Thoresby Street, Nottingham, and Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Sightings, KZNSA, Durban; Poetics of Relation, Point of Order, Johannesburg and LiveInYourHead, Geneva; and Men Gather, in Speech…, Cooper Gallery, Dundee (all 2015). Forthcoming exhibitions include Coded Encounters, Gallery Graça Brandāo, Lisbon, and a residency at Rupert, Vilnius.

REVIEWS AND ARTICLES ON RIDDER THIRST:

REVIEW ON BUBBLEGUM CLUB BY GEMMA HART

REVIEW ON KLYNTJI BY FRANCOIS LYON-CACHET

ARTICLE BY BAVISHA PANCHIA ON AFRICANAH.ORG

(rhythmanalysis) from within, without, and against: | 2017

KESIVAN NAIDOO | SILO ANDRIAN | CARLO MOMBELLI | NELISIWE XABA | EDUARDI CACHUCHO | MADEYOULOOK | NAADIRA PATEL

In “Elements of Rhythmanalysis”, Marxist philosopher Henri Lefebvre introduces a method with which to connect  space and time in the comprehension of everyday life. Lefebvre puts forward that the figure of “a rhythmanalysist is capable of listening to a house, a street, a town, as one listens to a symphony opera”, and positions the body as the first site of political rhythmic understanding – a metronome that moves between the “natural” and biological force of circadian rhythms and the repetitions and cycles of capitalist production and political struggle. As a tool of analysis, rhythm opens up connections between psychological, biological, sociological and political forces, cutting across and intersecting divergent systems of knowledge and understandings of time. Thinking through daily rhythms provides an opportunity to test how disciplines and practices sit in the world, how perceptive and responsive a practice is to occurrences and events in locales and as part of global networks, allowing us to explore how both power and resistance permeate the everyday. Rhythmanalysis is also a testing ground for the production and political work of counter-rhythms and arrhythmic tempos that might disrupt the banal repetitions of power structures, structural inequalities and hierarchies. 

POOL is interested in the potential of rhythm as a destabilising force, where rhythm might be used as a form of resistance against disciplining social structures and knowledge boundaries and as a tool for rethinking and re-applying artistic practice. As such POOL has, since 2015, been developing and conceptualising a research project investigating the potentials of rhythmanalysis as a tool for artistic production and thinking, unfolding artistic and institutional practice as a rhythmic organising form and propositioning it with contrasting cycles, pulsations, utterances, mobilities and readings. A major field of practice within our research around counter-rhythms is jazz, a simultaneous form and platform for re-negotiating realities, resistance, world making and collaboration. Acknowledging that the South African art world has very few spaces for collaborative art making, thinking and curating, we look towards jazz as a form that embodies improvisation and risk-taking as a methodological starting point. Jazz is a form of liveness that expects and produces negotiations between various players “on the spot”, so to speak. This negotiation also extends to listeners (the audience) who take on a certain responsibility to “keep time” – constantly catching it, dropping it, or holding it – along with the musicians. The listener is thus implicated in the liveness unfolding around them. Through shifting the rhythms of modernity and through producing counter-rhythms or a-rhythmic interventions (through protest, music, jazz, improvisation, dance, foot-dragging, or withdrawal) we can read resistance, and produce modes of social organisation.

This project commissioned South African visual artists and musicians to produce new artistic works that respond to the political, social and collaborative potentials of rhythm. The work was presented in a series of public moments including workshops, film screenings, live jazz performances and readings.

This project was supported by Pro Helvetia Johannesburg, National Arts Council of South Africa, Concerts SA, and Institut Francais - South Africa

Now now

BEAMS Exhibition & Workshop: Nina Barnett & Jeremy Bolen | 2020

Nina Barnett (ZA) and Jeremy Bolen (USA) present BEAMS, a year-long research project which began with a residency at POOL for the month of July 2019 and culminates in an exhibition in May 2020 that explores a facet of Johannesburg’s past and future time, the impact of in/visibility, and the edges of knowledge. 

Beams will consider the distant past (geological deep time) and it’s connections to the earth’s emerging future (the anthropocene). The project will attempt to extend our sensorial capabilities and in doing so bring attention to what extending our senses allow us: collective experience, belief, an understanding of our surroundings. Of particular interest for the artists is understanding how the anthropocene epoch has embedded an archive of traces in human bodies, and how these sub-atomic particles we are immersed in can become visible and further understood. To this end, Barnett and Bolen have extended their research into a multidimensional exhibition that includes an array on extra-disciplinary collaborations with practitioners from the worlds of science, activism and the humanities.

Beams forms part of a new research focus undertaken by POOL, which investigates the diversity of engagement that artists have developed to climate crisis - be it as the anthropocene, the capitalocene, or the cthulhucene; as well as newer articulations that are emerging and being shaped across specific contexts.

Programme

Current
Past

Particulate: Nina Barnett and Jeremy Bolen | 2019

Particulate was installed at POOL Gallery from July 2019 to January 2020. It’s purpose was to evoke the invisible particulate that surrounds us as we move through our environments: from smog and dust to atoms to neutrinos to radioactive material. This light installation served as an indication and provocation for interactions with visitors and the public about Barnett and Bolen's research. Inadvertently, because of its black surface, it also highlighted the local material particulate that settled on the black shiny surface over the installation's duration.

Play-White: Bianca Baldi | 2019

‘Play-White’ (2019)

10:45min (looped), colour, stereo

Play-White is a sub-aquatic tale that explores the phenomenon of Versipellis, a physical trait derived from Latin that literally means ‘one who changes skin’. The film looks at the cuttlefish who is able to change the colour of its skin as a mechanism to escape its enemies. In this video, the cuttlefish, also called sepia, is presented as both the creature that won’t be pinned down to one colour as well as the source of the pigment of sepia. Woven through the tale is the figure of Clare Kendry from Nella Larsen’s twentieth-century novel 'Passing'.

 

Film Credits:

Assistant director: Romain Boniface

Camera: Bianca Baldi and Romain Boniface

Editing: Liyo Gong

Post-production: GVN 108

Sound design: François Boulanger

Colourist: Maxime Tellier

Filmed at MIO Institut Méditerranéen d’océanologie, Marseille

Courtesy the artist. Co-produced by Netwerk Aalst, Belgium with the support of the Hessische Kulturstiftung

 

This project was part of Holding Water - a programme of workshops, reading groups, film screenings and artist presentations that think the oceanic from land-locked Johannesburg, commissioned by POOL and the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South, WiSER, Wits University.

This project is kindly supported by the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South, WiSERBusiness and Arts South Africa, and Ellis House Art Building.

To See With The Ears and Speak With The Nose : Sinethemba Twalo and Abri de Swardt | 2019

READING #CYCLE 1

 

A Squeeze of the Hand (Words need Love too)

7 November
 

To Shore: A Choreutic Borderline

16 November 


Residence Time

4 December 

 

Beginning from Amal Donqul’s statement that the sea like the desert does not quench thirst, READING CYCLE #1 invites participants to explore questions of entanglement, chaos, desire, contradiction within everyday life and the imminent unknown. The cycle traces the echogenic qualities of water, its reverberating hums, its fluidity and constant movement back and forth, which impel a becoming (other)wise.

Through a performativity of textual immersion in which boundaries between literary and theoretical genres become porous, and dissipate against and within each other, the cycle enunciates wetness as a conduit for the affective capacities of words. The title points to the sensorium of cetaceans, suggesting a trans-position and embalming of our own orientations to embrace hydromechanics as a gesture of (dis)solution, a streaming of bodies, and a pooling of temporalities. This use of ‘temporal’ touches upon the use of temps in French for both time and weather, heeding us that we should think of time, citing Michel Serres, as aleatory mixtures of the temperaments, of intemperate weather, of tempests and temperature which percolates rather than flows. Time is thus approached as historically thermodynamic. In aligning the sessions with the quarter moons a tidal attenuation and equilibrium is approached outside of chrononormativity. Cast beneath the waters, one crosses over into an aesthetics of drowning.

 

This project was part of Holding Water - a programme of workshops, reading groups, film screenings and artist presentations that think the oceanic from land-locked Johannesburg, commissioned by POOL and the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South, WiSER, Wits University.

This project is kindly supported by the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South, WiSERBusiness and Arts South Africa, and Ellis House Art Building. 

the ground, and other wet things: Nolan Oswald Dennis with DORMANTYOUTH and Robin Scher | 2019

A once-off sound and image performance by Nolan Oswald Dennis, with DORMANTYOUTH and Robin Scher. 

Songs for indecision. Which is to say mud. Which is to claim mud. Which is to think from wherever I am not. Which is to find a Markov blanket is no shield. Which is to dream as if I am awake. Which is to absorb whatever falls my way. Which is to drown. Which is to squelch. Which is to leave a sediment. Which is to stratify. Which is to become (fossil) fuel. Which is to strategise. Which is to build from the bottom up. Which is to reverse time, or at least slow it down. Which is to be too early, or too late. Which is to forget. Which is to be seen as forgetful. Which is to be free from forgetting. Which is to be free for a short time only. Which is to short time. Which is to sell in advance of acquisition. Which is to work as if tomorrow will be worse than today. Which is to look downward. Which is to see ground. Which is to be ground. Which is to move water. Which is to pick up bits of other things. Which is to be mixed up. Which is to carry stuff. Which is to be with you. Which is to lose myself. Which is to obfuscate. Which is to be alone. Which is a type of togetherness. Which is to slide (like mud). Which is to be unclear (like mud). Which is to be here (like mud). Which is to land. Which is to need land. Which is to be some labour. Which is to contain many labours. Which is something like a bit of water full of things which are not water. Which is a little mud. Which is soft shit.

--

a sound and image rendition of a reluctant azania

 

This project was part of Holding Water - a programme of workshops, reading groups, film screenings and artist presentations that think the oceanic from land-locked Johannesburg, commissioned by POOL and the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South, WiSER, Wits University.

This project is kindly supported by the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South, WiSERBusiness and Arts South Africa, and Ellis House Art Building. 

Tidalectics: Thandi Ntuli and Shane Cooper | 2019

Tidalectics, an immersive once-off performance by musicians Shane Cooper and Thandi Ntuli that sonically and visually navigated the ocean's dynamic flows, currents and tides as sound-spaces.

 

This project was part of Holding Water - a programme of workshops, reading groups, film screenings and artist presentations that think the oceanic from land-locked Johannesburg, commissioned by POOL and the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South, WiSER, Wits University.

This project is kindly supported by the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South, WiSERBusiness and Arts South Africa, and Ellis House Art Building.

Thinking the Sea as Practice: Zayaan Khan | 2019

The oceans have held the beginning of life itself, countless life forms rooted in ancient forms of time. The oceans come saturated in salt, zooplankton, phytoplankton, life and death, story and history. Zayaan Khan traced some of these stories with samples of what the ocean has swept ashore, linking stories of our history into our present. The workshop finished with a choice of practicals: making kelp tools and instruments; or using seawater as brine for fermentation. Ocean inspired refreshments were served.

This project was part of Holding Water - a programme of workshops, reading groups, film screenings and artist presentations that think the oceanic from land-locked Johannesburg, commissioned by POOL and the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South, WiSER, Wits University.

This project is kindly supported by the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South, WiSERBusiness and Arts South Africa, and Ellis House Art Building.

BEAMS Film Programme: Nicholas Mangan, Inhabitants, Semiconductor | 2019

7.00pm - 8.30pm

A film program for the closing of BEAMS, a residency undertaken by Nina Barnett and Jeremy Bolen at POOL. This programme presented artist films that consider human relationships to time, geology and capital, and that attempt to make visible phenomena and structures that operate outside of the expected lines of vision. 

 

Inhabitants

Molecular Colonialism: A Geography of Agrochemicals in Brazil (2018)

Since 2008, Brazil is the country that consumes the most agrochemicals in the world. In the period between 1999 and 2009, for example, around 62,000 cases of poisoning by agrochemicals were reported. If land expropriation and labor exploitation are the visible side of the violence associated with the agribusiness, poisoning is its invisible side.

Molecular Colonialism: A Geography of Agrochemicals in Brazil is a project coordinated by Larissa Mies Bombardi, geographer at the University of São Paulo. This atlas reveals an image of contamination between 2007 and 2014, across different categories: by region, sex, age, ethnicity-race, education, circumstances of poisoning, and if it occurred on or off work. This episode is but a brief visual sample of this tremendous mapping.

 

Inhabitants

Mining for Ringwoodite (2016)

Mining for Ringwoodite compares the 2014 geological discovery of “fossilized” water – termed Ringwoodite - found in the interior of a diamond in Brazil, with the prospects of mining on the moon or asteroids as announced by private companies in recent years. Ringwoodite, which holds water in the form of hydrogen and oxygen bound together, can only be found in the earth’s transition zone, between 410 and 660 kilometers below the earth’s surface. Given that water scarcity will only worsen throughout the twenty-first century, this episode speculates on a near future in which Ringwoodite as well as rare minerals (and possibly water in such petrified state) found in nearby asteroids will be the objects of a new mining economy. In this future, both the earth’s interior and outer space would define the new capitalist frontiers, similarly to gold and silver mining in the colonial past.

 

Nicholas Mangan

A World Undone (2012)

A World Undone delves into Zircon, a 4,400 Million year old mineral that has been unearthed within some of the earth’s earliest crust in Western Australia’s extremely remote Jack Hills. The project gathered a small sample of the geological material to be crushed and reduced to dust, disaggregating the very matter that it was comprised of. The dust was filmed, airborne, by a camera that captures movement at a speed of 2500 frames per second. The airborne dust elicits an image of the earth’s crust dematerializing, a rear vision view of the earth’s becoming; an inverted cosmos.In the words of founding Geologist James Hutton, the so-called discoverer of deep-time; “No vestige of a beginning — no prospect of an end”

 

Semiconductor

As the World Turns (2018)

As the World Turns is a moving image science fiction, which explores man’s place in time and space, through the science of radio astronomy.  Filmed at Goonhilly Earth Station, a satellite communications site in Cornwall, England, As the World Turns visually explores the location through hand-held camera footage, creating an intimate experience and suggesting the presence of a human observer. We are given an impression of the sites history, the achievements once gained, future endeavours and of technology and nature co-existing. The film provides a sense of man firmly grounded in the landscape, yet looking out into space, framed by our view from the Earth and the technology developed and employed to create an understanding of it.

 

Beams forms part of a new research focus undertaken by POOL, which investigates the diversity of engagement that artists have developed to climate crisis - be it as the anthropocene, the capitalocene, or the cthulhucene; as well as newer articulations that are emerging and being shaped across specific contexts.

A Forecast: Nina Barnett and Jeremy Bolen | 2019

A Forecast

Walk and Public Discussion

with Nina Barnett and Jeremy Bolen

Saturday 13 July 2019, 3.30pm to 5.30pm

Johannesburg Observatory

 

To see the invisible, instruments are required.

Join Nina Barnett and Jeremy Bolen for a collective sensory walk at the Johannesburg Observatory, and a public discussion about their collaborative project and continuing work together. From the top of the ridge we will observe the turning of the earth as the sun sets. 

This event forms part of Beams, a year-long research project by Nina Barnett (ZA) and Jeremy Bolen (USA), beginning with a residency at POOL for the month of July and culminating in an exhibition in May 2020 that will explore a facet of Johannesburg’s past and future time, the impact of in/visibility, and the edges of knowledge. 

Beams forms part of a new research focus undertaken by POOL, which investigates the diversity of engagement that artists have developed to climate crisis - be it as the anthropocene, the capitalocene, or the cthulhucene; as well as newer articulations that are emerging and being shaped across specific contexts.

 

ABOUT BEAMS:

Nina Barnett (ZA) and Jeremy Bolen (USA) present Beams, a year-long research project beginning with a residency at POOL for the month of July and culminating in an exhibition in May 2020 that will explore a facet of Johannesburg’s past and future time, the impact of in/visibility, and the edges of knowledge. 

Beams will consider the distant past (geological deep time) and it’s connections to the earth’s emerging future (the anthropocene). The project will attempt to extend our sensorial capabilities and in doing so bring attention to what extending our senses allow us: collective experience, belief, an understanding of our surroundings. Of particular interest for the artists is understanding how the anthropocene epoch has embedded an archive of traces in human bodies, and how these sub-atomic particles we are immersed in can become visible and further understood. To this end, Barnett and Bolen intend to extend their research into a multidimensional exhibition that includes an array on extra-disciplinary collaborations with practitioners from the worlds of science, activism and the humanities.

Beams forms part of a new research focus undertaken by POOL, which investigates the diversity of engagement that artists have developed to climate crisis - be it as the anthropocene, the capitalocene, or the cthulhucene; as well as newer articulations that are emerging and being shaped across specific contexts.

Mud Songs: Nolan Oswald Dennis | 2019

MUD SONGS
8 cantos for soil and water
A four hour durational performance with Robin Sher (saxophone) and Phumlani Pikoli (vocals). 

Mud Songs is a programme for gathering and attending to mud as a psycho-political sub terrain at the intersection of water and earth. Mud Songs is a collective project for dreaming with soil and sound and signs. Mud Songs are a longness, a muddy forever (sonically and tactilely and tactically).

Mud Songs is a 4 hour programme in 30 minute acts, each act is arranged around a song, each song is a loose collection of sonic and tactile fragments: vinyl records, youtube videos, spoken word, saxophonic improvisation, readings, screamings, touchings, holdings.

Visitors are invited to come and join and leave and stay.

Programme:

17:00 > canto 1: general mud
17:30 > canto 2: a curriculum for mud in pisces
18:00 > canto 3: permanent aftermath
18:30 > canto 4: a more human
19:00 > canto 5: songs for dyeing
19:30 > canto 6: a continuity flesh
20:00 > canto 7: geophagia
20:30 > canto 8: on mud and silence (on the roof)


Nolan Oswald Dennis is an interdisciplinary artist from Johannesburg, South Africa. His practice explores what he calls ‘a black consciousness of space’: the material and metaphysical conditions of decolonization. His work questions the politics of spacetime through a system-specific, rather than site- specific approach. He is concerned with hidden structures that limit our social and political imagination. Through a language of diagrams, drawings and models he explores the systematic and structural conditions that organise our political sub-terrain. Dennis’ work attempts to stitch these symbiotic systems together, to synthesise bio-political, socio-political and techno-political fictions. He holds a Bachelor degree in Architecture from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and a Masters of Science in Art, Culture and Technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

This event forms part of Starter Room. Starter Room is a lab and mediateque in which plant relations, structures and substrates are framed as potential sites for social, political and biological transmission and through which unheard and unexpected histories and knowledges might be accessed. The name “Starter Room” is inspired by the cultivation of wild yeast that is supported and fed through a fermented mixture of flour, water and naturally occurring bacteria, originally used to make bread rise before the invention of commercial instant yeast. Motivated by the fomenting intersection of microbial and macro ecologies in which plants, cells, spores, and rhizomatic extensions develop, Starter Room is organised as a scene of public encounter through which discursive acts, relations, knowledge production and sharing take place.

Starter Room is supported by the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) in association with the Nedbank Arts Affinity.

Fermentation Workshop: Zayaan Khan | 2019

Fermentation Workshop and Meal

by Zayaan Khan

Join POOL for a workshop on wild fermentation led by Zayaan Khan, where we will learn the practicalities of fermentation for food, soil health, medicine, and even for dyeing; meet our microbial kin and begin to understand their fomenting impact on environments; hear stories of cultural fermentation; and discuss how to build a community of (multispecies) fermenters to revive the pantry. We will use salt and sweet as key tools to unlock ancient practice into an encouraging future.

The workshop will run for three hours from 15.00 - 18.00, including tasters and a special shared vegetarian meal of fermented foods. This workshop is free.

Zayaan Khan is from Cape Town and works in understanding nuances within food systems by navigating land from an interdisciplinary perspective. Firmly rooted in a socio-political context, she works at unhinging our dependence on neoliberal consumption. She is interested in food through the lens of art, specifically to find ways to share stories, both of struggle and solution and how this influences self-care. Zayaan is currently completing a Masters within the Environmental Humanities at the University of Cape Town, her research is titled "From seed-as-object to seed-as-relation".

This event forms part of Starter Room. Starter Room is a lab and mediateque in which plant relations, structures and substrates are framed as potential sites for social, political and biological transmission and through which unheard and unexpected histories and knowledges might be accessed. The name “Starter Room” is inspired by the cultivation of wild yeast that is supported and fed through a fermented mixture of flour, water and naturally occurring bacteria, originally used to make bread rise before the invention of commercial instant yeast. Motivated by the fomenting intersection of microbial and macro-ecologies in which plants, cells, spores, and rhizomatic extensions develop, Starter Room is organised as a scene of public encounter through which discursive acts, relations, knowledge production and sharing take place.

Starter Room is supported by the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) in association with the Nedbank Arts Affinity.

Mandla Mlangeni x Shane Cooper: | 2019

Mandla Mlangeni x Shane Cooper, a live improvised sonic response to early films of submarine microbiology, fauna and flora, as part of Starter Room.

This event forms part of Starter Room. Starter Room is a lab and mediateque in which plant relations, structures and substrates are framed as potential sites for social, political and biological transmission and through which unheard and unexpected histories and knowledges might be accessed. The name “Starter Room” is inspired by the cultivation of wild yeast that is supported and fed through a fermented mixture of flour, water and naturally occurring bacteria, originally used to make bread rise before the invention of commercial instant yeast. Motivated by the fomenting intersection of microbial and macro ecologies in which plants, cells, spores, and rhizomatic extensions develop, Starter Room is organised as a scene of public encounter through which discursive acts, relations, knowledge production and sharing take place.

Starter Room is supported by the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) in association with the Nedbank Arts Affinity.

just...just: Nelisiwe Xaba and Eduardo Cachucho | 2018

Nelisiwe Xaba and Eduardo Cachucho, as part of (rhythmanalysis) from within, without and against

4 August 2018

Improvised performance at a secret location

Eduardo Cachucho and Nelisiwe Xaba present a performance work set in a private space where the audience is invited to sit on pillows, lie on blankets or mats as they experience a performative and rhythmic elaboration of just plain knowing by the performers.

just ... just is a performance by Eduardo Cachucho and Nelisiwe Xaba in the frame of  (rhythmanalysis) from within, without and against which brings together musicians and artists to respond to Henri Lefebvre's, Rhythmanalysis, the final volume in the Critique of Everyday Life.

Ridder Thirst Public Programme: | 2018

Ridder Thirst Public Programme

29 May 2018

18:30

Screening of Ridder Thirst (2015-2018) by Abri de Swardt and Nefandus (2013) by Carlos Motta, followed by a discussion with Bettina Malcomess and Dr Saarah Jappie.

De Swardt's Ridder Thirst (2015-2018), fantasises the First River in Stellenbosch into disappearance, perceiving that “if the ocean is the space of coloniality, the river is that of settlement”.  By snaking from the mouth of the river at Macassar Beach – a former separate amenity for people classified as ‘Coloured’ under apartheid, and named after the 17th century Eastern Indonesian exile, Shaykh Yusuf of Makassar – to Stellenbosch – named after Simon van der Stel who set it aside for settler colonial burghers distancing themselves from the Dutch East India Company at the first river he encountered after Cape Town – the work takes the span of the river as marker of extreme socio-political discrepancies. These incongruities are evident in the photographs of Afrikaner student couples captured at the river in the sixties and seventies by Alice Mertens, images which are revisited and intervened within Ridder Thirst.
 
In Nefandus two men travel by canoe down the Don Diego river in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in the Colombian Caribbean, a landscape of “wild” beauty. The men, an indigenous man and a Spanish speaking man, tell stories about “pecados nefandos” (unspeakable sins, abominable crimes); acts of sodomy that took place in the Americas during the conquest. It has been documented that Spanish conquistadores used sex as a weapon of domination, but what is known about homoerotic pre-hispanic traditions? How did Christian morality, as taught by the Catholic missions and propagated through war during the Conquest, transform the indigenous relationship to sex? Nefandus attentively looks at the landscape, its movement and its sounds for clues of stories that remain untold and have been largely ignored and stigmatized in historical accounts.

16 June 2018

16:30

Walkabout with Abri de Swardt and Ridder Thirst LP listening session, facilitated by Athi Mongezeleli Joja

The Ridder Thirst 12’’ LP foregrounds listening as decolonial act. The double vinyl record has commissions by artists, student activists, academics, musicians and writers Stephané E. Conradie, Metode en Tegniek, Athi Mongezeleli Joja, Pierre Fouché, Khanyisile Mbongwa, Rachel Collet, Abri de Swardt and Alida Eloff. As sonic forum, the record approaches collective voice with desire and disassociation, proposing an ‘unwriting’ of space.

17 June 2018

17:45

Performance Words Beneath Bridges, written by Abri de Swardt and performed by Quinting Manning and Danie Putter

Words Beneath Bridges, a 40-minute performance first developed and realised at The Centre for the Less Good Idea, and featuring performers Quinton Manning and Danie Putter, invokes graffiti scrawled beneath overpasses and along rivers as bardic writings at, and of, the margins. De Swardt draws from text he saw in 2014 spray-painted beneath Coetzenberg Bridge at the Eersterivier in Stellenbosch – a site documented by Mertens – reading Real EYES Realize Real Lies.

(rhythmanalysis) from within, without, and against: Kesivan Naidoo, Silo Andrian, Carlo Mombelli | 2017

(rhythmanalysis) from within, without and against

The first cycle of (rhythmanalysis) from within, without and against brought together musicians and artists from South Africa and Madagascar to respond to Henri Lefebvre's proposition of the rhythmanalyst as a figure that is "capable of listening to a house, a street, a town, as one listens to a symphony opera".

26 and 28 October 2017

20:00

Silo Andrian (MAD) and Kesivan Naidoo perform at Afrikan Freedom Station

01 November 2017

20.30

Silo Andrian, Kesivan Naidoo, Carlo Mombelli perform at The Orbit

Guest appearance by Mandla Mlangeni

Now now

About

Information

POOL is a Johannesburg based not-for-profit art organisation that supports artists, curators and musicians through collaboration, commissioning, and the production and presentation of new work. POOL champions contemporary experimental and interdisciplinary artist and curator-led practice and research, and works to develop projects that connect practitioners, organisations and publics across a constellation of creative practices, scales and sites.

Emerging from an investigation into the role, forms, and organising systems of art institutions, POOL considers, from the perspective of artistic and curatorial practice, what it might mean to build an institution that is dynamic, responsive and generative. To that end, POOL experiments and plays with instituent forms, exhibitions, public programming and publications as spatial and discursive practices. POOL was founded in 2015 by Mika Conradie and Amy Watson during a residency at Ithuba Art Gallery, Johannesburg.

Mika Conradie is a curator and writer; formerly the Manager for Public Programmes and Development at the Market Photo Workshop; a 2013 Fellow of the Gwangju Biennale Curator Course; and a former curator-in-residence at Jakarta Biennale and the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw. She was head researcher for a number of best practice guides for arts practitioners commissioned by VANSA from 2014-2017; and most recently the curator of PALM PALM Palmar (2018) - publication forthcoming.

Amy Watson is a curator and a founding director of POOL. Most recently she curated How To Disappear (2020) and Soft Architectures (2019) at Goodman Gallery. In 2017 she curated the exhibition and edited the publication Ângela Ferreira South Facing at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. She is a 2016 fellow of the Gwangju Biennale Curator Course, and a 2015 fellow of the Glasgow International Curatorial Exchange, curating Sightings at KZNSA Gallery that same year. Watson has worked in public and private collections including: V22 Collection, London; Saatchi Gallery, London; and Johannesburg Art Gallery. Watson holds an MFA in Curatorial Practice, Goldsmiths College, University of London and an MAFA from The University of the Witwatersrand.

POOL is a registered NPO organisation (145-856 NPO) with Public Benefit Organisation status (930048313).

Contact

hello@pool.org.za

Address

Ellis House
23 Voorhout St
New Doornfontein
Johannesburg


Follow

board

Ashley Whitfield
Mark Thomas
Amy Watson

website

Design: Ciara Moore
Development: Aragorn Eloff

News

POOL partners with the Oceanic Humanities


POOL partners with the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South  for Holding Water, a programme of workshops, reading groups, film screenings and artist presentations that think the oceanic from land-locked Johannesburg from October 2019 to March 2020.

The Oceanic Humanities for the Global South WiSER and  POOL are collaborating on a research and exhibition project focused on the politics and poetics of oceanic flows, from the perspective of land-locked Johannesburg. POOL’s ongoing ‘Ocean Thinking’ project postulates that a large part of the political, social and economic reality of the post-colonial global South has been and continues to be produced in and through its relationship to the ocean. Oceanic Humanities aims to decolonize histories of oceanic space while providing new approaches to literary and aesthetic understandings of water. Their collaboration draws together academic, literary and cultural studies with practice-based research. 

The project tests the framing of academic, artistic and exhibition practice through destabilising temporal and spatial rhythms that constitute the anticipated forms of exhibitions and lectures through a series of programmed events that are staged between new and full moon cycles, and across past and future oceanic geographies. The public programme will include performance lectures, screenings, live musical performances, immersive installations, live readings, and public city walks lead by artists and scholars, as well as a two-day workshop at the WiSER, Wits, Johannesburg.


02 July 2019

Nina Barnett & Jeremy Bolen in Residency at POOL


Nina Barnett (ZA) and Jeremy Bolen (USA) present Beams, a year-long research project beginning with a residency at POOL for the month of July and culminating in an exhibition in May 2020 that will explore a facet of Johannesburg’s past and future time, the impact of in/visibility, and the edges of knowledge. 

Beams will consider the distant past (geological deep time) and it’s connections to the earth’s emerging future (the anthropocene). The project will attempt to extend our sensorial capabilities and in doing so bring attention to what extending our senses allow us: collective experience, belief, an understanding of our surroundings. Of particular interest for the artists is understanding how the anthropocene epoch has embedded an archive of traces in human bodies, and how these sub-atomic particles we are immersed in can become visible and further understood. To this end, Barnett and Bolen intend to extend their research into a multidimensional exhibition that includes an array on extra-disciplinary collaborations with practitioners from the worlds of science, activism and the humanities.

Beams forms part of a new research focus undertaken by POOL, which investigates the diversity of engagement that artists have developed to climate crisis - be it as the anthropocene, the capitalocene, or the cthulhucene; as well as newer articulations that are emerging and being shaped across specific contexts.

Nina Barnett is a South African artist currently living in Johannesburg. She received her MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and her BFA from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Nina Barnett uses drawing, printmaking, photography, moving image and installation to examine particular locations in relation to the body, deep time and vertical scale. Her work seeks connections between the geographical, the experienced and the materiality of surfaces, and questions the relationship between theoretical, surmised and accidental knowledge. Barnett has exhibited her work locally and abroad - notably at Gallery 400 and the Chicago Artists Coalition in Chicago, The Soap Factory in Minneapolis, David Krut Gallery and Harvestworks in New York, and at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Recent residencies include the Cite des Arts in Paris; AIR in Bergen, Norway; PROGR in Bern,Switzerland and Summer Forum, Joshua Tree. 

Jeremy Bolen is an artist researcher, organiser and educator interested in site specific, experimental modes of documentation and presentation.  Much of Bolen’s work involves rethinking systems of recording –– in an attempt to observe invisible presences that remain from various scientific experiments and human interactions with the earth’s surface. Bolen is a recent recipient of the Banff Research in Culture Residency in Alberta, Canada; PACT Zollverein Residency in Essen, Germany; Oxbow Faculty Artist Residency in Saugatuck, MI; Anthropocene Campus Residency in Berlin and Center for Land Use Interpretation Residency in Wendover, Utah. His work has been exhibited at numerous locations including the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; La Box, Bourges; PACT Zollverein, Essen; University at Buffalo, Buffalo; IDEA Space, Colorado Springs; The Mission, Houston; Galerie Zürcher, Paris; Andrew Rafacz, Chicago; Soccer Club Club, Chicago; Salon Zürcher, New York; The Drake, Toronto; Untitled Art Fair, Miami; Gallery 400, Chicago; Newspace Center for Photography, Portland; Depaul University Art Museum, Chicago and Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago. Bolen lives and works between Chicago and Atlanta, serves as Assistant Professor of Photography at Georgia State University, is co-founder and co-organiser of the Deep Time Chicago collective, and is represented by Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Chicago.  

 


01 July 2019

3 Dreams of the Sinking World Opens 13 April 2019 at POOL


3 Dreams Of The Sinking World, a solo presentation by James Webb, contains a 5 channel filmic meditation on the Carlton Hotel in downtown Johannesburg. An icon of wealth and luxury when it was built in the 1960s, and a symbol of Johannesburg’s modern global aspirations during the height of apartheid, the hotel was never financially successful and was finally closed in the 1990s. The building remains closed, in a state of suspension, while the city around it has changed. 3 Dreams of the Sinking World consists of a sound installation and a five channel film installation of footage taken inside the hotel in 2015 and 2018 respectively. The exhibition includes recorded audio narrative pieces commissioned by POOL especially for the exhibition.

Webb’s filmic vignettes reveal a gradual scopic study of the architectural and infrastructural elements that remain as they intersect with peeling design elements, dead facilities, and exhausted organic matter. The first installation presents footage from a drone camera tracking an expired palm tree that has been abandoned on the former rooftop pool and entertainment area of the hotel. The second moves to the core of the building with a camera slowly tracking back along the corridor of the 26th floor in a movement that references the famous "corridor" scene from The Shining. The final piece contains footage that follows Shoes Mthembu, a security guard, as he descends 30-flights of stairs inside the hotel. Lit only by a torch, Mthembu leads the viewer from the roof to the basement. Intersecting all the filmic vignettes is the sound of Johannesburg as filtered through the physical husk of the building - recordings made by placing a series of microphones, including sensitive contact microphones to tap into the vibrations of the walls and windows, throughout the hotel.

Opening | 13 April 18.30

Walkabout | 13 April 11.00

Closing | 22 June 2019


1 April 2019

Starter Room 2019


The 2019 cycle of Starter Room launches at POOL on the 15th of March. Starter Room is a lab and mediateque in which plant relations, structures and substrates are framed as potential sites for social, political and biological transmission and through which unheard and unexpected histories and knowledges might be accessed. 

The name “Starter Room” is inspired by the cultivation of wild yeast that is supported and fed through a fermented mixture of flour, water and naturally occurring bacteria, originally used to make bread rise before the invention of commercial instant yeast. Motivated by the fomenting intersection of microbial and macro ecologies in which plants, cells, spores, and rhizomatic extensions develop, Starter Room is organised as a scene of public encounter through which discursive acts, relations, knowledge production and sharing take place.
 

Programming
15 March, 19.00:
Mandla Mlangeni x Shane Cooper 
Improvised sonic response to early films of submarine microbiology, fauna and flora.

21 March, 17.00 onwards:
Nolan Oswald Dennis: Mud Songs, durational performance 
Mud Songs forms part of Mud Notes: an experimental research programme for organising and distributing mud as knowledge and matter (a fleshy surplus). Mud Notes runs from 14 - 30 March at POOL, with open lab days to be announced.

30 March, 14.00 onwards:
Zayaan Khan
Fermentation Workshop, including a shared meal and tasting.


Starter Room is supported by the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT)


1 February 2019

Uriel Orlow's Theatrum Botanicum Opens at POOL on 4 September 2018


In September 2018 Uriel Orlow’s Theatrum Botanicum project will be realised across several venues in three cities in South Africa. Using the media of film, photography, installation and sound, and working from the dual vantage points of South Africa and Europe, the project considers plants as both witnesses and actors in history, and as dynamic agents—connecting nature and humans, rural and cosmopolitan medicine, tradition and modernity—across different geographies, histories and systems of knowledge, with a variety of curative, spiritual and economic powers.

The works variously explore botanical nationalism and other legacies of colonialism, plant migration and invasion, biopiracy, flower diplomacy during apartheid, the garden planted by Nelson Mandela and his fellow inmates on Robben Island prison, as well as the role of classification and naming of plants.  The project developed out of a research residency undertaken in 2014 and evolved through successive trips between 2015 and 2017 in which Orlow undertook extensive research in archives, and collaborated with traditional medicine practitioners as well as those with legal and botanical expertise, traversing Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.

The project has evloved over several exhibitions including: The Showroom, London (2016); EVA International (2016) curated by Koyo Kouoh; the 2017 Sharjah Biennal 13 (where it won a major award); and Kunsthalle St Gallen, Switzerland (2018). The South African iteration sees the project return to its geography of origin, giving local audiences and practitioners - some of whom helped shape the project - an opportunity to critically and generatively respond to the body of work.

The project will be hosted between POOL and the Market Photo Workshop, in Johannesburg, the Institute for the Creative Arts (ICA) in Cape Town and the Durban Art Gallery.

This project forms part of a special programme of Pro Helvetia Johannesburg, the Southern African liaison office of the Swiss Arts Council, celebrating twenty years of collaboration and exchange with the region. For more information go here.


4 August 2018

PALM Palm palmar Group Show Opens at POOL on 18 July 2018


PALM PALM Palmar is an exhibition that attempts to produce propositions around place making, entering the question of spatial organisation through flora. Extending the architecture of a built environment towards the architecture and infrastructure of landscaping regimes and plant structures, the project looks at how meaning and history have been produced under human-plant relations and what the role of specific plant-life is in assembling or eliding historic and contemporary narratives. The project takes its cue from the importation of palm trees into Johannesburg during apartheid, from island “utopias” across the Pacific Ocean and South-East Asia.
 

The title of the project, PALM, PALM, Palmar, brings attention to the linguistic history of the word 'palm', which is also a term for a tricksters’ 'sleight of hand', or 'to palm' something away. Palmae, as they are called in latin botanical classification, are also named after the opened surface of the human hand which is not only a flat plane area, but what is referred to in medical terms as palmar – “of or pertaining to the underside of an appendage”, the area always pointing downwards.
 

'Palm' is thus a gesture, a territory and a direction.

ARTISTS: YTO BARRADA | SIMON GUSH | MADEYOULOOK | SEBASTIAN MEJIA | LUCAS ODAHARA | KARIN TAN + SKYE QUADLING

CURATED BY: MIKA CONRADIE


20 June 2018

POOL's project space opens with Abri de Swardt's Ridder Thirst


POOL is excited to launch our project space on 26 April 2018 with Abri de Swardt's Ridder Thirst project. Ridder Thirst marks de Swardt's first solo exhibition in Johannesburg, deploying queer historiography and collective voice to 'un-write' place. By exploring the mechanisms of the lens De Swardt simultaneously occupies and inverts the ‘straight’ canons of documentary photography and essay film, facing the continued effects of white denialism with the restorative agency and limits of queer youth.

The exhibition comprises work realised between 2015 and 2018, including a video installation, a photographic series, a performance in four parts and the launch of the Ridder Thirst 12’’ LP - a double vinyl record with commissions by Stephané E. Conradie, Metode en Tegniek, Athi Mongezeleli Joja, Pierre Fouché, Khanyisile Mbongwa, Rachel Collet, Abri de Swardt and Alida Eloff.  

Ridder Thirst includes a programme of public events realised in collaboration with De Swardt: The performance Words Beneath Bridges invokes graffiti scrawled beneath overpasses and along rivers as bardic writings at, and of, the margins. De Swardt choreographs the piece (first realised at The Centre for the Less Good Idea and performed by Quinton Manning and Danie Putter), in four sequences as “sunstrokes of voice” in which techniques of collage - the cut, the inlay and occlusion - are transposed to performance. 

This project is supported by the National Arts Council South Africa.


20 February 2018