Firmly grounded in his empirical experience of this world, Robert Slingsby’s art is the product of meticulous research into the ancient mark making of indigenous communities who have been marginalised through colonialism, apartheid and economic imperialism. As with his lifelong focus on ancient societies, in this work, Slingsby exposes the ways in which inequality is manipulated, legislated and institutionalised to suit an elite. He confronts the issues of ethnic identity and identity politics, as well as the attendant problems of patronage, and the distortion of good governance. He also acknowledges the inherent instability of fixing or freezing social categories and their susceptibility to the overlapping dynamics of culture, economics and politics. And through his work he expresses outrage at the uneven trade-off between history, identity, livelihood and the often bitter fruits of so-called civilisation which, for the poor and the marginalised, often bring servitude, displacement and the status of exiles even within their own lands.
‘In/dependence’ is an installation piece that comprises many components. It is a nuanced, meditative requiem encapsulating the devastating consequences wrought by the construction of the dams in the Omo Valley in Ethiopia, where Slingsby spent 7 years of his life.
The exhibition opens on 7 March at 6pm.
Venue: Everard Read Gallery, 2 & 6 Jellicoe Ave, Rosebank, Johannesburg
Time: Mon to Fri 9am to 6pm | Sat 9am to 1pm