Barnard Gallery is pleased to announce its participation in the 2016 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, London with a solo presentation by Lien Botha.
In Lien Botha’s work the photograph – as text, object or trace – intersects and interweaves a collection of recurring concerns which her practice – spanning more than thirty years – has continuously investigated and ruminated upon: memory, meaning, experience, object and place. These concerns do not operate autonomously, but are rather always presented as interdependent and mutually generative. The photograph, conceptualised beyond the rigidities of the documentary frame to which post-Apartheid photography in South Africa is so often inclined to, becomes an active site of memory – both personal and collective. As a living, generative space, it both recalls real places in space and time and reimagines them through complex networks of association and narrative. This duality endows Botha’s photographs with an undeniable enigma and surrealism, sitting somewhere between object and place, real and unreal, tangible and intangible.
Botha’s Wonderboom series is a virtuosic distillation of these steadfast concerns. A visual companion piece to her debut novel of the same name, which tracks the protagonist’s journey across dystopic South Africa as she slowly loses her memory, each image corresponds to a chapter. A series of disintegrating photographic texts, Wonderboom references Eadweard James Muybridge’s groundbreaking image sequences. But while Muybridge’s sequences are accumulative and continuous, Botha’s tracks a trajectory of loss and disintegration. Layers of meaning are progressively stripped away, severing connections and associations as they disappear. The collection of objects comes to represent a mind that is slowly losing its grip on itself, a place slowly eroded, a history forgotten or confused. This visual entropy effects a tactile sense of loss, and reminds us that lived experience is predicated on complex layers of association which are ever vulnerable to disruption, destruction and delirium.
Lien Botha was the winner of the Standard Bank Young Artist Award in 1997 and has received international residency grants from various institutions including the San Francisco Art Institute and the Ampersand Foundation in New York. Botha has held ten solo exhibitions of her photographs to date. Her most recent solo show, Yonder, was presented by Barnard Gallery in 2014 and accompanied by a publication of the same name. Her work has been included in survey shows at various local and international venues including IZIKO South African National Gallery, Cape Town; Musee da Cidade, Lisbon; Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin; Te Papa Tongerewa Museum of New Zealand; Museum of Modern Art, Algiers; Musee National du Mali, Bamako; BOZAR, Brussels, Centre d’art et photograpgie de Lectoure, Lectoure; Virginia Commenwealth University, Doha; Ars II, Kuopio, Finland and Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon. Her work is represented in various collections in South Africa, including the Johannesburg Art Gallery, Pretoria Art Museum, Durban Art Museum and IZIKO South African National Gallery, amongst others; and internationally at Wellesley College, Massachusetts and the Natural World Museum in San Francisco.