Berni Searle

21 September - 21 October 2006
Michael Stevenson is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Berni Searle. This is her third solo exhibition at the gallery, following About to forget in 2005 and Vapour in 2004.

Searle's main project for the exhibition is Night Fall, a triple screen video installation and a series of related prints. The artist has placed herself precariously on top of a huge mound of crushed red grape skins that have been spurted out from an overhead funnel. En masse the grape skins form a sensuous reddish purple backdrop, simultaneously evoking lusciousness and decay. Shot mainly in slow motion, at dusk and dawn, the work has a contemplative dreamlike quality which is disrupted by an unexpected series of 'falls'.

While the work alludes to the traditional process of crushing grapes with one's feet, this ritual enactment becomes futile since the juice of the grapes has already been extracted, pointing to a more symbolic/evocative reading of ideas relating to abundance, excess and vulnerability.

This year Searle also has solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Museum | Institute for Research in Art at the University of South Florida in Tampa, USA, opening on 27 October, and at the Johannesburg Art Gallery, opening on 19 November. A book on her work, joint published by Michael Stevenson, CAM | IRA and JAG, will be available late September.

In 2006 Searle has exhibited in group exhibitions including 2006 Contemporary Commonwealth at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image and the National Gallery of Victoria; Black, Brown and White at the Vienna Kunsthalle; Personal Affects: Power and poetics in contemporary South African art at The Contemporary Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii; Second to None at the South African National Gallery; and the seventh Dakar Biennale.

In 2005 Searle's work Vapour was selected for the Arsenale exhibition Always a little further at the 51st Venice Biennale and for the first Performa biennial in New York. She held solo exhibitions at the BildMuseet in UmeŚ, Sweden, and the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, and was included on A Kind of Magic: The Art of Transforming at the Museum of Art, Lucerne, Switzerland, and TEXTures: Word and Symbol in Contemporary African Art at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington DC.

Searle was shortlisted for the international Artes Mundi Prize in 2004, and was the Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art in 2003. She was an invited artist at the City of London Festival in 2004, and was selected for both the Shanghai and Busan biennales in 2004. Click here for a full cv.

Night Fall


Descent I

Descent II

Descent III


Free Fall




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© 2006 Michael Stevenson. All rights reserved.