[ISEA2018] Artists Statement: Bronwyn Lace, Nhlanhla Mahlangu & Xolisile Bongwana — Feast or Famine

Artists Statement Also Artist Talk (by Bronwyn Lace)

Other Realities sub-programme

For this video piece artist Bronwyn Lace requested permission from the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien (Vienna) to document through time-lapse photography the process of Dermestesmaculatus (carrion beetle) removing the flesh of a Tyto alba (barn owl). The carrion beetle is typically used by universities and museums to remove the flesh from bones in skeleton preparation. Whilst at first the focus of this video piece may be on the dead and skinned body of an owl after some time it shifts to the movement of the beetles. The video makes visible all the stages of the life cycle of this beetle. While the subject may initially be death and decay it quickly becomes apparent that it’s equally about life. Museums and universities use the beetles to prepare skeletons because they preserve the DNA of the specimen. A sound component has been collaboratively created by South African composers and vocalists Nhlanhla Mahlangu and Xolisile Bongwana. The sound is a meditation on mourning.

  • Bronwyn Lace is an artist and cultural activist based in Johannesburg, South Africa. She completed her BAFA at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg in 2004. Lace works primarily in site specific installation, sculpture and performance and participates in national and international projects focusing on the relationships between art and other fields, including physics, museum practice and education. An important element of Lace’s practice involves creating site-specific installations with found, recycled and repurposed elements. Lace is currently the director of The Centre for the Less Good Idea, an interdisciplinary incubator space for the arts based in Johannesburg. Founded by William Kentridge, the Centre creates and supports experimental, collaborative and cross-disciplinary arts projects. bronwynlace.com
  • Nhlanhla Mahlangu, South Africa. A graduate in the theory and practice of dance teaching from Moving Into Dance Mophatong, with over 17 years of experience in theatre, dance, dance theatre anddance in education, Nhlannhla Mahlangu is a multi-skilled performer, teacher, director and composer. Mahlangu currently directs his own company, Song and Dance Works. In 2005 he joined Uphondo Lwe Afrika in Port Elizabeth before spending several years with the Dodgy Clutch Company, where he got to tour the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and to collaborate with renowned international choreographer, Robyn Orlin. With several prestigious performances under his belt, Bongwana has worked extensively with choreographers Gregory Maqoma and Luyanda Sidiya of Vuyani Dance Theatre and theatre director James Ngcobo.
  • Xolisile Bongwana, South Africa