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IF you enjoy creative, attractive and diverse art, then you should make your way to the KZNSA Gallery as they are hosting an exciting exhibition, Community Punching Bags, by Johann van der Schijff, until July 29.
The exhibition comprises a selection of punching bags whose designs have been customised by high school students and art educators from Cape Town and its surrounding areas.
When Tonight interviewed Van der Schijff, he explained what the exhibition symbolises: “The exhibition presents a satirical commentary on South Africa’s obsession with racial classification and underlying xenophobia. Inspired by artwork in which the community plays a central part in its realisation, this project aims to show that issues often not spoken about openly – such as those that deal with violence, ‘the other’, stereo- typing, discrimination, racism, xenophobia and human rights – can be addressed in a collaborative and creative way through the making of art.
“For me, this punchbag represents the artist and his/her role in society, and as such is also a self-portrait.
“I see the role of the artist as that of contemporary court jester and/or witch doctor, especially in South Africa and Africa where freedom of speech seems perpetually to be under threat.”
Van der Schijff holds workshops consisting of a number of distinct phases to the Community Punching Bags project with art teachers who then pass their skills on to their learners.
The designs from these workshops are realised by local leather artisans who turn the designs and collages into actual punching bags.
Van der Schijff said: “The overall project consisted of five phases: phase 1 involved high school art teachers from the greater Cape Town area and consisted of Saturday morning workshop sessions to develop cut-out designs/collages with the art teachers.
In phase 2, local leather artisans crafted the cut-out designs/collages into actual punching bags. Phases 3 and 4 replicated phases 1 and 2, but with the teachers passing their Community Punching Bags workshop skills on to the school children. Phase 5 is the exhibition and accompanying catalogue on show at the KZNSA Gallery, consisting of the draw- ings, paper cut-outs/ collages and punch bag sculptures that emanated from the workshops.”
Van der Schijff sees himself as a contemporary artist whose artwork is driven by one’s idea and concept rather than working in a specific medium or area.
“Growing up in South Africa and living in society underlies much of my work, forcing the viewer into a position of choice in their engagement with my artworks,” he explained.
He says these community punching bags can be stored anywhere in one’s home or work space where they will be seen, discussed and enjoyed: “I personally have lots of artwork hanging and standing all over our house. I enjoy new aspects of these works, even if they have been hanging on our walls for years, each time I rediscover them. It is also a great conversation starter for people whom you do not know very well when they come over to visit.”
• The exhibition runs until July 29 at the KZNSA Gallery, 166 Bulwer Road, Glenwood. Limited edition archival prints of the original collage artworks are for sale. For more info, call 031 277 1705.