I love fairy tales and fables. I am inspired by them. I once read somewhere that fairy tales and horror prepares one to deal with potential death.
I guess working with fairy tale themes and subverting it makes me able to cope with reality. It was very heartbreaking when Greta Thunburg said in one of her speeches that ” This is not the time for fairy tales.”
I also stitch a lot of hybrid figures.
In the book: “The uses of enchantment” Bruno Bettleheim stated that in fairy tales and dreams any physical malformation often stand for psychological misdevelopment. It is said that in these tales when the upper part of the body is animal and the lower part human, this indicates symbolically that things are wrong in the head/mind.
Which indicates something monstrous. I am fascinated by monsters!
As promised…here’s more info about this fantastic group show curated by Adele Adendorff. Feeling very excited, blessed and thankful that my work is included in this show amongst wonderful fellow female South African artists.
The Princess in the Veld showcases a selection of sculpture works produced by local, contemporary female artists and contemplates the position of women in our current South African dispensation and forms part of the 2015 KKNK arts festival in Oudtshoorn. The exhibition hosts works by Frances Goodman, Doreen Southwood, Reshma Chhiba, Wilma Cruise, Karin Lijnes, Hannalie Taute and Larita Engelbrecht. Despite South Africa’s democratically premised constitution and the passing of numerous revised bills advocating the rights of women, female emancipation remains unrealised: Highlighted by high crime statistics of rape and domestic violence and prejudice against women in the workplace and society at large. Although a far more proactive approach is needed in order to enact real change for women in South Africa, this exhibition aspires to raise awareness of, and stimulate discussion around, the plight of women.
The ‘princess’, as part of the title, is employed as a thoroughly fabled, and somehow condescending, designation for women and underscores the relation between female identity and (gendered) space. The South African social landscape, still dominated by parochial views of women, is viewed as a space riddled with fallacies regarding femininity – a condition that merely serves to perpetuate the oppression of women. As an illustration of these literal and metaphoric spaces evident in society, fairy tales (narratives based on idealised and stereotypical notions of women) are utilised within the context of The princess in the veld as a curatorial slant to mirror these defunct views and abusive practices towards South African women. Fairy tales generally position female protagonists as extensions of particular (gendered) spaces within the narrative – private spaces, the domestic realm and nature) – spaces that are often shaped by (and upheld by) traditional roles assigned to women.
Despite the signs of prejudice scripted within the pages of these tales, alternative readings could, adversely, offer opportunity for transformation: The conventional fairy tale plot leads the heroine (usually spurred on by curiosity or emotion) into unfamiliar (and often forbidden) territory – a space generally designated by the forest, or in the case of indigenous tales, the veld. The word ‘veld’, as part of the title of the exhibition, suggests uncultivated, leveled grasslands associated with the South African landscape, in particular, the Karoo. The curated space therefore acts as a metaphor for the veld, wherein positive accounts of heterogeneous and transformative female identity could be shaped, illuminated by the selection of artworks, expressive of an empowered sense of femininity. As part of a kind of ‘corrective’ curatorial approach and the desire to reconceptualise female identity, the veld is conceived of as a space that engenders freedom from the constraints persistent in society, and serves to revise perceptions regarding female identity. The fairy tale is then employed as a curatorial mechanism that, on the one hand, emphasises the pervasiveness of conventional and essentialised notions of femininity and, on the other, promotes the emancipation of women that exist within the interstices these binaries yield. The bodies of work of the artists selected for this ensemble allude to the underlying notions prevalent in fairy tales of European and African origin in order to align with the premise of the show. words by Adele Adendorff as well as images below.
Even though I am only on page 38, I can highly recommend this book, especially if you are interested in the history of Fairy Tales, folklore, myths or any other stories….
“Fairy tales were not created or intended for children. Yet they resonate with them, and children recall them as they grow to confront the injustices and contradictions of so-called real worlds. We cannot explain why the origins of the fairy tale are so inexplicable and elusive. But we can elucidate why they continue to be irresistible and breathe memetically through us, offering hope that we can change ourselves while changing the world.” page 20
“Hmmm. It seems to me that you yourself are the fairy tale. You’re looking for yourself. Yes, yes, the closer I look at you, the more I can see it. You are the fairy tale. Come, tell me a story!”
The little girl was at first greatly embarrassed. But the she began to tell a story. She told about a young horse who was very handsome and won all the prizes at the race-track. And about a horse at the grave of his master. And about wild horses who lived out in the open. And then the old horse wept and said: “Thank you! Yes, yes you are the fairy tale. I knew it all along!” The butcher came, and the horse was slaughtered. On Sunday the little girl was at home with her parents, and they had horsemeat for dinner since they were very poor. But the little girl would not touch anything. She thought about the horse and how he had wept.
“She’s a spoiled princess,” her brothers and sisters said. And the little girl ate nothing. But she felt no hunger. She thought about the old horse and how he had wept, and she was full. Yes, she was a fairy tale.” By Odon von Horvath from the book: Breaking the Magic Spell: Radical Theories of Folk and Fairy tales by Jack Zipes.
I am currently reading a lovely book about the artist known as Hundertwasser.
Since I was a little girl I have been fascinated by garden gnomes
My grandmother, me and a garden gnome
So its not surprising that I loved this quote from the book about Hundertwasser :
“A fertility god, Priapus, was the god of gardens, their protector.
Priapus of Ephesus
It takes little imagination to understand the suppression of this phallic deity by the Christian world, his replacement by a usurping dwarf lacking a huge (fertilizing) penis and the final neutralizing of this figure as a harmless ninny – where once a wise and powerful figure presided. Art explores its own implications; it carries us forward. Simultaneously, it acts to remind us of what we forget, much as do garden dwarfs.”
p 186 Hundertwasser by Harry Rand (Taschen)
gnomes in the garden of my children’s school
on page 187 it goes on to say:
“Yes, he (the garden gnome) is the symbol of fairy tales. People cannot live without dreams. He symbolize that dream. He is dreaming the dream which people sometimes have not the time to dream.
The architects hate it. For a rational architect the worst enemy is the garden dwarf…..the worst thing you can do for him, the worst offence, is when you invite him to dinner and you put a garden dwarf on the table.”
p187 from Hundertwasser by Harry Rand (Taschen)
I am in the mood of organizing a dinner party with lots and lots of gnomes around the table!