Kendell Geers, RitualResist. Photo credit: Lydie Nesvadba.
In collaboration with PERFORMA 17, WhiteBox is pleased to present two performances by South African artist Kendell Geers, RitualResist and WhoDoVooDuchamp? These will be the artist’s first solo presentations in New York since 2004.
Notes on Ritual Resist:
“A man and a woman engaged in the martial art of vanity. Neither can see the other and both struggle against their own reflection in a square mirror. The square is the symbol of all things in balance, the 4 elements, the 4 directions and 4 corners of the Earth, the 4 evangelists, 4 seasons and 4 noble truths. The instructions are simple, to keep the mirror afloat, suspended in time and space by pressure alone. The sides may never be grasped, the top and bottom never supported, the mirror may never be caught, held or contained. It floats only by the force and pressure of the two blinded, visually eclipsed bodies, both in resistance but needing the other. Each person depends upon the force of the other as they slowly move, trying to maintain their individual centre of gravity on the other side of the mirror, in the domain of the other. If either makes a false step or slips, if either loses their balance then they shall both fall and the mirror shattered.
Stasis is not an option.
The palms of their open hands, arms, shoulders, breast, back, neck, head and every part of the upper body is used to support the mirror that should always be held in such a way that neither person ever sees the face of the other. As the hands and skin begin to sweat, so the mirror starts slipping and ever more force is required to maintain the double mirror of the slow RitualResist. As more pressure is demanded, the body tires and begins to groan and even more resistance and pressure is then needed to stop the mirror from falling and cracking.
The visitor is, in the meanwhile transformed into voyeur, watching a naked couple, sweating in a slow combative struggle. The act of looking is interrupted as a slight shift in the mirror suddenly reflects the image of their own gaze and they are caught in the act of looking. The exhibitionist fantasy is dissected for the upper half of the female torso is visually joined with the sex and legs of the male beyond and vice versa. The androgynous child of the trickster Hermes and lover Aphrodite and the Hermaphrodite is borne.
The mirror stares out on to all who dare gaze upon its secret domain, a reflection of vanity and of fear as age patinates youth and the body re-members the traces of lived experience, the physical expression of an inner emotional condition. The conventional beauty of youth evolves into the sophisticated unequivocal imprints of truthful time. The looking glass transports those who do not fear into dimensions beyond the 3 of conventional understanding, into the spaces of spirit and the chambers of imagination. The mirror flips over into a double reflection when time and space stop once Alice chases the rabbit through the worm-hole of shamanic perception.
The square of 4 balanced elements is infinitely multiplied within the implicit infinity of a double reflection, two mirrors back to back caught between the struggle of male and female forces, the duality of binary oppositional worlds caught in loop back, flesh and spirit at the precipice of the time space continuum. Neither one, nor another, both all ways, always, the struggle continues, a luta continua.”
– Kendell Geers
Born into a working class Afrikaans family during the height of Apartheid, Kendell Geers quickly found himself fighting a Crime Against Humanity on the front lines of activism and protest. From his strong experiences as a revolutionary, he developed a psycho-social-political practice that held ethics and aesthetics to be opposite sides of the very same coin, spinning upon the tables of history. In his hands, the discourse of art history is interrogated, languages of power and ideological codes subverted, expectations smashed and belief systems transformed into aesthetic codes.
Believing that art is as political as it is spiritual, Kendell Geers’ varied practice cannot be simplified, cannot be reduced to cliché or fashion. His strategies are without compromise because he believes that “Art changes the world – one perception at a time.”
Curated by Juan Puntes, WhiteBox Artistic Director; Curatorial Associate Amanda Ryan. Supported by Goodman Gallery and the South African Pavilion Committee, Johnathan Jawno and Southern African Foundation For Contemporary Art.