07 August - 10 September 2014
Commune.1 is pleased to announce the upcoming solo exhibition titled Groot Geraak by South African photographer and filmmaker Gordon Clark.
Groot Geraak (Became Big) examines the life of Quentino, a young boy growing up in Elsies River on the Cape Flats, an area that has been plagued by endemic gang violence. Quentino and his peers are photographed at various stages over a three-year period in an attempt to locate defining moments in their lives. Clark expresses a personal interest in these defining moments and their potential implications; here the individual is pitted against powerful collective agents. In areas where these agents have a strong presence, individual identity gives way to survival and the need to conform.
Despite the careful staging of each image, Groot Geraak is an expression of Quentino’s life, complete with portents of his future. The tension resides between a staged performance on the one hand and the re-enactment of actual moments on the other, hence the powerful evocation of a hyper-reality. Whatever direction Quentino’s future may take, the images present an all-too-familiar reality of youth at the mercy of gang influence. In this sense, Quentino’s narrative is a placeholder for so many others. The success of these images – high in production value and residing in the distinct world of fine art – is measured in the response it elicits from the viewer, be it mistrust or anger at the photographer, or anger at the conditions of the young lives exposed. In asking difficult questions about the politics of representation, persistent racial and class divides, and by facing our own discomfort at the images (in the ‘safety’ of the gallery), we are implicated in a collective groot geraak. Thus we move towards a deeper understanding of the human condition in a polarised context.
Gordon Clark (b.1955 Johannesburg) photographs those rare individuals within society who challenge our inherent beliefs and jar our aesthetic aspirations. He weaves complex narratives by inserting subjects into deliberately choreographed natural environments, which compel viewers to interpret the powerful dilemmas at play within each subject’s life. Clark has previously focused his practice on the life details of Turner Adams, an alter-boy turned convict whose twenty-four years of hard prison life has hardened his glare and ‘marked’ every square centimeter of his skin with tattoos. Before that he collaborated with Leon Botha, 24-year old artist who was living with Progeria.
Gordon Clark has had numerous solo shows including: ‘Turner Adams: The Outcome’ at Commune.1 (2013), ‘Gordon Clark: Selection’ at ARTCO Gallery, Germany (2012), ‘Who Am I? – Transgressions – Gordon Clark and Leon Botha’ shown in Amsterdam, Germany and South Africa (2010-2011), ‘What is Familiar?’ at Odes Gallery, Cape Town (2009) and ‘Transitions’, Museum of Tolerance, USA (2002).
Currently Clark lives and works as a photographer and film maker in Cape Town.