Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Habitat In View!

'The Village Was Burnt Down...iii'

Our environment is the habitat in which we live. As the flames of war sweeps across a quarter of the continent, the heat is on the increase on the environment. As political crisis, socio-economic upheaval, natural disaster and environmental degradation make headline on daily broadcast, the conflagration has become internecine in nature, burning down trees in excess and the result – deforestation; strong precipitation that leads to flooding more intense storm, spilling over borders, increasing droughts, causing massive refugee problems, homelessness, no hiding place this time around for endangered species, erosion, earthquake and other concomitant environmental destruction ranges more than ever. Societal and Environmental issues pose major global challenges, but Africa as a continent is already in bad shape owing to these. And isn’t it obvious that the vulture which feeds on our vitals is a nestling of our own rearing? Our lust for gain at some point has given way to habitat loss.
What colour do we see of life in a society where the habitat has been left scathed?

'The Village was burnt down...ii'

Much draft of agreement has been reached by the government of the day, like the global climate protection protocol, negotiated in Kyoto, Japan in 1997. But how far have we pursued the implementation?
It took collective global effort to pull down the Apartheid rule in South Africa at a time; the same global effect is required this era of climate change which is a grave global threat that calls for immediate attention. For me, all hands must pull together toward the goal of climate and environmental protection.
I was in South Africa in 2004 for eight month art project, and I was actually invited by Stanley Etkind, and art lover and a Jewish South African businessman. Stanley had taken me and along with three other artist, the previous year when we were there for a group show, to Everard Read, Goodman gallery, Bag factory and some other art facilities in Jo’burg.
On returning to South Africa this time, I traced my way back to some of the galleries we had visited.
Walking into Warren Siebrits Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery on Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood on a Monday morning, a show was on. ‘Prints and Multiples II’ - a homage to Rorke’s Drift Art Centre. Gracing the exhibition hall were all black and white works except for few with a touch of yellow ochre process cyan for someone who was looking out for an array of colours. They were prints, photomontages, serigraphs and etchings by artists like Jane Alexander, Zulu Vuminkosi, Azaria Mbatha, Walter Battiss, Marlene Dumas, Judas Mahlangu, and few others. (Right: 'Let There Be Light...')
Anyone fortunate enough to have seen this show would have witnessed first hand the unique achievements of these artists whose works still grows in stature and relevance with the passing of time and exude a deep sense of humanity and compassion, which belle the difficult socio-political and economic condition under which they were created in the late sixties and early seventies. Evocative works which brings to mind the important role these artists played in providing future generations with invaluable links to the plight of previous generations. Good documentation they did…but in black and white with little or no colour which left an imprint on my mind since that show.
The call of an artist is that of ‘tell it as it is’. Life is still in black and white very much in our African society and even globally as the case may be.

Colourful rays of hope and alleviation from socio-political
and economic challenges is highly sort after by the masses who in quest for better living condition have also contributed to environmental degradation.
Societal and environmental impediments don’t just show up but like chain reaction, one abnormality hooks up with another side of life and erupts leaving us with a deformed society marked by homelessness, hunger, insecurity, violence, war, epileptic power supply, including environmental disasters like erosion menace due to improper deforestation…and the list is endless.
The major problem in the Nigeria’s oil rich Niger delta include on a large scale the mishap of oil spillage owned by the presence of giant oil and gas plant where degradation lingers and the environmentalists are doing little or nothing over the issue.
In Angola, one of the most dreaded and most common signs “PERIGO, MINAS!” (Danger, Mines!). Millions of landmines were laid by all parties during a conflict years back and sadly the most affected were civilians and the habitat. Such is the story in Liberia, Cote d’voire, Sierra lone, Sudan, Kenya, Rwanda and some other regions of Africa have busted into flames and its : Beautiful Black people of Africa especially… innocent children, trees…the great Irokos, wildlife…endangered! In some cases, a whole village was reduced to ashes.
The above sent me on this relevant journey of Residue Collection of Societal and Environmental Mishaps: HABITAT LOSS. The goal of this project is to promote and create awareness for socio-economic aesthetic and environmental conservative based lifestyle as a contribution to climate protection.

Thoughts on marble…Oh…sorry! Thoughts on Charcoal!

For this season of my exploration, I am using Charcoal as my major medium. Why Charcoal? For me, Charcoal is symbolic. A blackish residue consisting of impure carbon obtained by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and vegetation substances. It is usually produced by slow pyrolysis, the heating of wood, sugar, bone char, or other substances in the absence of oxygen. The resulting soft, brittle, lightweight, black, porous material resembles coal and is 85% to 98% carbon with the remainder consisting of volatile chemicals and ash.
Charcoal represents all the colours of the universe - being total Black and even as in the simile - ‘…As black as charcoal’. It is the embodiment of all colours. Black speaks of beauty as in ‘…Black is beautiful’.

1 comment:

  1. Joel -

    The charcoal pieces here make the work haunting and beautiful. I hope you will post more to this blog. Your work is strong.

    Thank you - Joseph Ross


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