Tus tsĩ ǀxurub, Rain and drought
MASSIMODECARLO Pièce Unique is delighted to present Tus tsĩ ǀxurub, Rain and drought, an exhibition by South African artist Bronwyn Katz.
Tus tsĩ ǀxurub, Rain and drought draws from a text written by !Ora language activist Andries Bitterbos. In the text, Andries Bitterbos recollects a ritual performed to summon rain. The the exhibition Tus tsĩ ǀxurub, Rain and drought conjures a form of material translation and interpretation of this ritual for rain. The installation presented at MASSIMODECARLO Piece Unique is manifested through what Katz identifies as curtains of rain, made of copper coated carbon steel and hemp twine. This wire image of rain is inspired by the sound of rain hitting a metal roof.
Katz is interested in the potential of rain as a cleansing force, a healing force, a blessing. She posits copper as a metaphor for water, this conductor of electricity encourages wound healing. The bed is a potent symbol that brings into play issues around land, living in reciprocity with the earth, homelessness and belonging – and which, in its horizontality, even serves as a metaphor for land itself.
Increasingly deconstructed, Katz’s process involves an unravelling of the material, a peeling back of layers, pulling, breaking and repairing. The bed, metal bed springs and bed frames can be thought of as ‘unearthed material’; the furniture is often salvaged from places in states of flux, cities where the artist might be living at the time or has lived in the past. In several sculptures, patterns of coiled springs are combined with metal and plastic pot-scourers. Stretched out onto the springs to create a field of delicate, protruding mounds, the material delicacy of the scourers belies a powerful symbolism. Scourers speak to labour, the expectation and normalisation of the black body at work, scrubbing and cleaning. A signifier of blackness, they conjure up the derogatory phrase ‘hair you can scour pots with’, which attests to one of the many ways in which blackness is judged by superficial attributes.
Through the creation of codes/visual forms realised as sculptures and installation Katz offers an alternative mode of preserving, reading and understanding ritual, language and the earth. Katz’s work on excavating communal history and the recognition of diverse forms of expression is crucial for the rebuilding of a South African archive and reclaiming what was assumed to be lost or destroyed.Incorporating sculpture, installation, video and performance, Bronwyn Katz’s practice engages with concepts of mapping, loss, memory and language relative to land and culture.
Rain and drought
In other times, if the earth (!ūb) should be very dry (ǀxuru),
then a chameleon (khutekakhubeb) was looked for (kx’.a-he) in the veld,
and when one was found (hō-he),
it was buried (khaoǂ’.-he lit. ‘be dug-enter’) still living (kx’ũisibe)
And then great rain [would] rain (tū).
and the storm (ǀnanobi) [would] rage (ǁxō) greatly (kaise).
And if the storm was very severe,
They went and dug it out (sī-khao-ǂkx’oa-si-he, lit. ‘go-dig-make-be emerged’)
And if it was hail-rain,
Then a last-born child (!auǀ’o’i)
one hailstone for a while in the mouth
was made to hold
And then it ceased (!au).