Willem Boshoff (1951 - )

sand, masonite, wood and glue, 96 x 96cm

The artist writes of this pair of panels
‘“NOTHING IS ALWAYS RIGHT”; “I KNOW, YOU KNOW”. These two statements rely on ambiguity for their success. Double meaning or multiple meanings render them thorns in linguistic sense and side-sense. I confess to an attraction for uncertainty and inconclusiveness. I have read TE Lawrence’s Seven types of ambiguity and I often put up a defence in favour of irony, sarcasm and witticism that can only be establish through double entendre. What is nothing? and how can it always be right? Surely then, nothing, being always right, is the most noteworthy standard, worthy of our aspirations. This kind of reasoning in defence of nothing abounds in the opening chapter of Andy Warhol’s book From A to B and back again. The converse of this, of course, implies that there is no such thing that can always be right. All things, moral, philosophical, religious and political, have their weaknesses and can be caught out, sooner or later, for lack of “rightness”.

‘The “I KNOW, YOU KNOW” statement thrives on suspicion and anxiety created by a comma. What is meant by it? First, “I” want to assure the other person/s that “I” know something and that it is important (or possibly disturbing and unfortunate) for them to know that I know – eg, “Do you know – I know what you did last summer?” Second, “I” might imply (who is to know?) that the other person’s/persons’ knowledge is accessible and open to me. They might have thought that they could keep their knowledge secret, but, “I know, you know”. Third, “I” know, you know, he knows, she knows and we all know. Nothing is secret any longer – not that nothing in itself has a hope of being always open or truthful, but then again: NOTHING IS ALWAYS TRUTHFUL!?’

© 2005 Michael Stevenson. All rights reserved.