Lerato Shadi

50 g and Tlhogo

14 April - 21 May 2011

Michael Stevenson is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Lerato Shadi. On show will be two related works: a video projection entitled 50 g and a live performance, Tlhogo.

In 50 g, a locked-off, close-up shot of a woman's bust is shown; in the foreground her hands crochet a piece of fabric using red wool. Glimpses of the body can be seen as the hands move in a rhythmic pattern. There is a vulnerability to the exposed body, yet it is protected by the process of making the fabric that will shield it. The action of crocheting creates a veil, a layer in-between the audience and the body. The needle pokes, penetrates, flickers and protrudes through this layer. Shadi writes:

The crocheting can be compared to language, to the act of speaking, with the tongue weaving the words, while the pattern of the fabric is like written text. However, the viewer has no access to the information contained within it and does not understand what is being said. The title, 50 g, is another cryptogram.

For the performance Tlhogo, Shadi crocheted a cocoon from hand-spun wool of various origins. The red woollen sheath was created specifically to fit her body, with just enough space left open for her to enter it. The performance takes place on a plinth in the gallery. First the artist struggles into the woollen cover and closes up the entrance by crocheting it from the inside. For the rest of the duration of the performance, the swaddled body lies motionless on the plinth, a 'living object'. At first glance the viewer is unable to tell that the 'object' is alive - only on close inspection does the movement of breathing become noticeable. The artist/performer changes position four times during the course of the evening, to relieve the body and to create a different sculptural image. Finally, she liberates herself from the woollen cover, leaving behind the crocheted 'relic'.

The live performance of Tlhogo will take place on opening night only.

Shadi was born in Mafikeng in 1979 and lives in Johannesburg. She graduated with a BFA degree from the University of Johannesburg in 2006. She was selected as a 'Bright Young Thing' by Art South Africa magazine in 2008, and in 2009 was included in the Younger than Jesus artists' directory published by the New Museum, New York. She showed at Michael Stevenson in 2007 as part of the side gallery series. She had a solo exhibition, Mosako Wa Seipone, at Goethe on Main, Johannesburg, in 2010. She took up a Pro Helvetia residency at PROGR in Bern, Switzerland, in the last three months of 2010, and Tlhogo was first presented at the Stadtgalerie im PROGR as part of this residency. She is currently based at the Bag Factory artists' studios in Fordsburg.

Shadi exhibits concurrently with Penny Siopis and Paul Edmunds.

The exhibition opens on Thursday 14 April, from 6 to 8pm.

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