crystal palace

A feeling of dislocation is the core inspiration for this piece which places me as white gay individual in context of the history of South Africa and that of the world. The work investigates the creation of a Utopian space and specifically a domestic space through imperialism and colonialism and questions the construction of norms through visual stimulus. By creating a “dreamscape” out of found objects taken from my cultural heritage I try to reconstruct memory in a process of reconciliation with the self and metamorphoses into a better understanding.

The colonization of South Africa by white settlers is reflected in a sculptural diary built with found objects on the floating board. Using the toy as symbol I play with the construction of white identity and notions of imperialism. An ethereal world is created by the floating of the base and mobiles. This feeling mimes the dislocation from their own culture felt by the settlers on arrival adamant to keep their traditions in a continent opposite from what they where used to and the estrangement of culture created by enforcement of Western culture on the “Other”. Here the doilies become important as they are not only used as decoration but their function around the house is to keep furniture from staining and scratching cushioning the treasured family heirlooms from inevitable damage from outside. Reconstructing them to resemble snow flakes and also genetic structures they become alien and prehistoric in context of Africa.

The core structure of the work is a metal frame which supports the floating “dreamscape”. This structure is based on a RDP house, with a roof typical of a Western house (Cape Dutch specifically). This steeply pitched roof supported by rafters is built at an angle to stop snow from accumulating. This same style was used by the original settlers based on plans brought from Europe. Building a roof in Africa to resist snow ironically shows how little was known about the country invaded. Here the title ironically mocks the famous glass and iron structure at the top of Sydenham Hill which housed “The Great Exhibition” of 1851 embodying products from countries around the world specifically examples of the latest technology developed in the Industrial Revolution through British Supremacy. In my artwork the products are visual stimulus taken from domestic interiors and which hints at the history of South Africa. By visual connotations the viewer is left to recall the aftermath left on the path of this created history.