[ISEA2018] Artist Statement: Matthew Ovendale — Hope to See

Artist Statement

Hope to See was conceived form a desire to engage creatively with graffiti produced by the Tanzanian stowaway community in Durban. Finding their way to Durban is but a leg of their journey, in large their intended destinations vary and boil down to chance and experience. The basic premise of a stowaway − in these cases− is to leave Africa via a perilous journey of stowing away on commercial shipping vessels in the security lax ports of South Africa. The stowaway graffiti stands as a public showing of their stories, records, an indelible mix of; desperation, adventure, aspirational drive and existential change. The lives of the stowaways can easily be amassed within the simplistic brackets of illegality, promoting a negation of a shared human identity. This defining tar brush of othering runs the risk of perpetuating positions of domination and subordination. A reality already pervasively entrenched within a city rapidly reconfiguring itself to the momentous influx of African migrants and its gradual shift toward a decolonized space. In an attempt to counter these inherent pitfalls whilst not discarding the need to actively tell snippets of the stowaway stories, the artistic project Hope to see envisages utilizing the creolized nature of Warwick Junctions markets by amalgamating naturalized crafted products and elements of stowaway graffiti already present in the market spaces.

  • Matthew Ovendale, South Africa. Locating my life and art within the city of Durban South Africa I attempt to explore proactive strategies with which to challenge the various stagnant preconceived ideas that many of the cities inhabitants hold one another to. In so doing it is intended that my work moves away from the safe, clean coexistence of reified cultures into a space where translation can thrive. This work attempts to coax its audience/participants into a state where they can explore the necessity of critiquing their own identity and those with whom they share the city. To realize this, I make use of existing signs as a means of exchanging ideas in place of imposing them.