Magic Visions: An Online Exhibition by
The Centre for Visual Art, University of KwaZulu-Natal
The Magic Lantern Project was not an easy task to achieve. There was a lot of thinking involved to make sure that the end result remains faithful to the task at hand. My overall theme for all my projects is landscape so I was very happy to find landscapes in the slides available. I also wanted to explore different media, printmaking in particular. I was advised by my lecturers to try monotype, a quick and expressive medium that is well suited for creating landscapes. I tend to work in multiples and was excited to find out that monotype is well suited for creating a series of work.
To approach this project, I skimmed through the slides and certain slides stuck out to me. Not only were these landscapes but they were ground-level shots. There was a variety of subjects in each of these slides such as cows and farmers. With the knowledge that these slides were an advertisement to attract Europeans to come live in South Africa as a foreground, I began to wrestle with what could be absent in the pictures. I came to the conclusion that the absent referent is the voices and view of the marginalised groups of that era. These slides were created between 1910-1920, this was the time when South Africa was first unionised. With this unionisation, many groups of people were marginalised. The question I grappled with is, would they see the same thing as the oppressors?
This brainstorming lead me to recreating the landscapes but from a different perspective, the perspective of the oppressed. Those who were trying to sell the country as this beautiful haven full of free land would most likely have a different perspective from those whose land was being stolen from. My landscapes are eery and unfamiliar, almost dream like. They are highly abstract and contain strange forms. All the beauty is taken away and only a discomforting shell is left behind. When I printed my first rendition, this creepy look was largely unintentional but I went with it. It is something that I have been trying to achieve with other media, like watercolour, but I was not able to produce exactly what I was looking for. The general idea is to look through the eyes of the oppressed, see things from their perspective. I doubt they would see the beauty of the land when everything is slowly being taken away from them.
I absolutely enjoyed working through monotype, it is such a fun method of artmaking. I am definitely keen on exploring this media even more in upcoming projects. I also feel like the more I explore the theme of landscape, the more exciting things I discover. There is so many different ways to depict landscape and I want to explore them all.