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With a strong socio-political strand running through it, 2016’s PPC Imaginarium Exhibition celebrates South African diversity:


In 1960, UK Prime Minister Harold Macmillan made his historic ‘Winds of Change’ speech. It was a moment that acknowledged the pending decolonisation of the African continent and ushered in a new era. In light of the current political climate in South Africa, Macmillan’s famous words, “The wind of change is blowing through this continent. Whether we like it or not…” have special significance, and seem to echo throughout the 2016 PPC Imaginarium exhibition. Juxtaposing innovative design, skilful technical construction and mesmerizing aesthetics, the exhibition is a feast for the senses that showcases some of the best of emerging South African creative talent. But this year, a heightened sense of socio-political awareness weaves throughout the exhibition; individual works speak yet there are also conversations between pieces that reflect both the national and global dialogue at large.


The convergence of art and politics stems from a long tradition, and a range of pertinent issues and artistic explorations are on display in the 2016 PPC Imaginarium exhibition. Ranging over six different disciplines, namely: Industrial Design, Film, Jewellery, Sculpture, Architecture and Fashion, the multifaceted nature of the works allows for a wide traversal of subject matter, and a superb demonstration of the ways in which the medium of concrete can be moulded, shaped and re-imagined. It is this relentless curiosity that characterises much of the work, alongside the pointed socio-political commentary that runs through the exhibition.


Working within a classical, figurative manner, yet using an innovative technique that sees concrete beads knitted into a blanket that covers a nameless figure, Marina Walsh’s sculpture merges the weight of concrete with that of poverty, evocatively symbolising the plight of many of South Africa’s population.

Similarly, Ester Pohl’s work provokes a stark confrontation between the pliability of a rubber tyre and its concretisation into sculptural form; incorporating references to the violence of apartheid as well as the reliance of industry and commerce on modern transportation. In comparison – adding an idiosyncratic air to proceedings – Gordon Froud’s reinterpretation of a historical idiom sees the curvilinear lines of a Rococo table given a modern spin when cast in concrete and scribbled with musings on the nature of art.


Although many may wonder at the marriage of concrete and fashion, this year’s fashion entries surpassed all previous expectations with creations that are guaranteed to stun. Reminiscent of couture craftsmanship, Lianne Taylor’s Grecian gowns push technical boundaries and transform concrete into so delicate a substance that it seems positively weightless, while Janine Canfield brings a cosmopolitan mix to the exhibition with her African Zen goddess garments that derive inspiration from the culture, strength and diversity of South African history.

Works that look further afield include Kyle Goulden’s winning film entry that pays homage to a friend lost in the 2015 Paris terror attacks, while Marnus Havenga’s “The Last Word” is a frozen, post-apocalyptic typewriter with the last typed letter still in it that recalls final messages, such as those sent from the Twin Towers during the 9/11 attacks.


These are just a few of the interesting and thought-provoking works on offer. Be sure not to miss Nkhensani Rihlampfu’s haunting meditation on the fragility and impermanence of human existence, “The Vanity of Human Wisdom”, which contemplates the broader South African political context.


All of these left the judges wowed by the exceptional quality and technical proficiency of this year’s entries. As for visitors to the show, we guarantee there’s something for everyone in this bold showcase of emerging South African talent!

To view the PPC Imaginarium exhibition, visit the UJ Art Gallery until 26 March 2016, or the Pretoria Arts Association from 05-30 April 2016.

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