22 September - 21 October 2011

Simon Gush


STEVENSON is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Simon Gush.

The exhibition comprises new work that focuses on the current state of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu). Gush argues that one of Cosatu's most important roles is to advocate a coherent political ideology. He writes:

Although, throughout its history, Cosatu could never have been described as a homogeneous organisation, there is a sense that the current divergence of opinion regarding its adherence to an ideological position has brought it to a point of crisis. I would characterise this as a crisis of ideology, analogous to a crisis of faith or belief. It is this analogy of belief that forms the core of the exhibition.

Gush's investigation into belief takes two major forms of exploration. The first is a series of three short videos entitled Analogues. Made in collaboration with James Cairns, the videos produce three scenarios, each a metaphor which attempts to understand an aspect of how belief functions. The first video, Vacancy, meditates on the relationship between belief and act. The second, Plainsong, describes the dizzying effects of a crisis of faith. Distance, the final video, seeks to imagine the effects of a world devoid of belief. The videos are loosely inspired by Ingmar Bergman's 'trilogy of faith', Through a Glass Darkly (1961), Winter Light (1962) and The Silence (1963), through which he charted his own crisis of faith. Bergman's films concluded in his embrace of atheism. In an inversion of this, the Analogues series sides with the reaffirmation of political belief.

The second body of work addresses Cosatu more directly, examining its logo as an icon of its symbolic reality. At the launch of Cosatu, in Durban in 1985, a number of proposals were submitted for its logo, and a design by Louise Almon was selected. The other proposals, now lost, will be reimagined for this exhibition, based on descriptions by people who attended the launch. Each logo will be paired with a date in Cosatu's history or pre-history that Gush sees as representative of a defining moment in its relation to ideology. The logos will also contain new slogans that draw positive links between Cosatu and religion. The series will attempt to question the inevitability of Cosatu's current status and suggest the possibility of other trajectories. These works, produced in collaboration with Léa Legasse, will form a series of three murals to be painted outside the gallery. A fourth mural, made in collaboration with Dorothee Kreutzfeldt, will be produced off-site at 9 Wolmarans Street, Braamfontein. This work responds to the narratives in the videos, in part proposing a backdrop against which some of the scenarios could have been filmed. The exhibition will also feature a special contribution from Louise Almon.

The exhibition will run from 22 September to 21 October. Instead of an evening opening, the gallery will host a roundtable discussion chaired by Bettina Malcomess on Saturday 15 October from 12pm. All are welcome to attend and join in the discussion; a light lunch will be provided.

The gallery is open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, and Saturday from 10am to 1pm.

Simon Gush (b 1981) is a 2011 Fellow at the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts, University of Cape Town. He has held solo exhibitions at Stevenson Cape Town and Johannesburg in 2009 and 2010, and at Galerie West in the Hague, the Netherlands, and SMAK in Ghent, Belgium, in 2010. Recent group exhibitions include Halakasha at the Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg (2010); the 2009 Luleå Summer Biennial, Sweden; Die Keuze van Koen van den Broek at Indian Caps, Antwerp, Belgium (2009); and .za: Giovane arte dal Sudafrica at Palazzo delle Papesse, Siena (2008). He has held two previous collaborative exhibitions with Dorothee Kreutzfeldt, both in 2007. Gush completed his postgraduate studies at the Hoger Instituut van Schone Kunsten, Ghent, Belgium in 2008.

James Cairns is a writer and performer working in theatre, film and television. Works for the stage include Rat, The Sitting Man, Brother Number (nominated for Best Comedic Play at the 2007 SA Comedy Awards) and The Groundsman. His writing for television includes two seasons each of Drawing the Line and The Most Amazing Show, as well as So You Think You Can Dance and the SAFTA award winning Crazy Games. His short story Ossewa Mulaudzi was one of the four winners of the Vlaams-Nederlands Huis de Buren's Writing beyond the Fringe competition in 2009. He trained at Rhodes University under Andrew Buckland and Reza de Wet.

Léa Lagasse (b 1979) is an artist who lives and works in London. Her practice investigates our relationship to reality and the authenticity of experience. Using digressions and complex layers of texts, her work draws on fragmented perceptions in which processes of interpretation, misunderstanding and misreadings play an important part. She had a recent solo show at the USF gallery in Bergen, Norway, and has participated in group exhibitions including The Malady of Writing at the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (Macba) in 2010 and the Black Room series at Artist's Space, New York, in 2009.

Dorothee Kreutzfeldt (b 1970) is an artist whose work in recent years has largely been defined by collaborations, often within specific urban contexts. Such exhibitions include Rencontres Picha - Biennale de Lubumbashi (2010); Afropolis, with Bettina Malcomess, at the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum in Cologne (2010), REFLEX/REFLEJO, with Marta Fernandez Calvo, at the Johannesburg Art Gallery (2010) and at the Temporare Kunsthalle, Berlin, with Bettina Malcomess (2009). Her most recent solo exhibition took place at Blank Projects, Cape Town (2010). Kreutzfeldt co-founded the Joubert Park Project, a non-profit group which ran a range of cultural programmes for several years at the historical Drill Hall in inner-city Johannesburg.

Louise Almon (b 1958) is a painter living and working in Johannesburg. The city has been her inspiration for the past 10 years. She started her art life in the Eastern Cape during the apartheid years of the 1980s producing numerous posters, logos and murals for the trade union movement and community organisations both independently and with the Imvaba Arts Association. Her medium at present is oil on canvas and the works she produces in her Newtown studio are a reflection of her life and context.

The Analogues trilogy is produced in partnership with the Goethe-Institut, the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts and the Gauteng Film Commission.