Wednesday, August 17, 2022

The Shed: A Tiny Space for Big Ideas 

Mural by Sandile Radebe, precursor to The Shed (2021)

--Cape Town, 2022--Move over mega-galleries, white cubes and starchitect museums. A humble garden shed turned microgallery has sprung up in a back yard in Cape Town suburbia offering artists “a tiny space for big ideas” - its tagline. The aim of this temporary project, The Shed, is to pivot existing private space into small-sale public art practice at a local scale and to offer a platform for time-based or durational works to unfold. 

The Shed is located in a small private back garden in Rosebank, metres from the Alma Cafe which is a coffee shop by day and a live music venue by night and its restricted opening hours will coincide with Alma live gigs, most likely once a week, to encourage footfall in an otherwise unlikely residential setting. During 2023, The Shed will manifest artistic projects on a temporary and invited basis, given its residential nature. For more information on the background of The Shed, see the Projects page.  

The Shed

The Shed is inspired by other artists who have turned unlikely spaces into artistic platforms - DIY independent spaces and artists redirecting garages, kitchens, stairwells, and even a bedroom closet to exhibition ends. The Shed has a similar ethos to invent new possibilities from what is already circulating, and in the face of closures of various kinds.  

Artists hosted by The Shed are encouraged to engage with local environs and context. Measuring about four metres by two metres, the garden shed is part of the original structure of an early 20th century house. It is made from bricks and corrugated iron sheeting, painted black, and accessed via an external passageway that runs alongside a house. The local neighbourhood is rich with intersecting stories to be told at the nexus between physical space and (re)imagination.

The Shed could host time-based work, a performance, a silent disco, a work of theatre, a video installation, or two-dimensional artworks on the wall. Imagination is the limit. Artists will get use of the tiny space for anything from three hours up to three months at a time, with the idea to create ‘slow art’ in an increasingly telescoped world. (See also 'The Miniscule of Sound'). Works will be non-commercial in nature and experimental. Artist Sandile Radebe kicked off this project in October 2021 by turning the passageway wall adjacent the house leading to The Shed into a mural. The design spells out the microgallery’s name in block lettering derived from Google maps of the area:

Kim Gurney's durational artwork, 'Running a Book', is a prelude to The Shed and helps enable it. 'Running a Book' is both an artist book and a funding mechanism, using stocks and shares as an artistic medium to facilitate non-profit interventions in public space. When there are profits to be taken, another chapter of the book is written in public space via guerilla gallery. More here: Running a Book.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Talking clouds: Monique Pelser Q&A

--Cape Town, 16 February 2020--Monique Pelser and Kim Gurney sat down recently to discuss Monique's Cloud Series, a public space intervention that last year played out at various Cape Town city transit interchanges, in collaboration with guerilla gallery, a nomadic art platform. The discussion offers a coda to the project, providing some contextual information about its conceptual roots and earlier manifestations as well as future plans.

Kim Gurney: I was thinking back to our first meeting, in my studio in Salt River in the back yard of set builders, and the synchronicities of various topics and interests. All of which was neatly reflected by the photograph of a cloud on my wall, which fell down as we were speaking about your project, Cloud Series. That was a funny moment. To what extent does synchronicity guide you in your work? To put this another way, how do you hold the tension between the deliberate work of research and the chance moments and surprise of being practice-led?

Monique Pelser: Yes, I think that is a good way of phrasing it: practice-led. So, what I do is, I come up with a concept or respond to a circumstance and then I will frame a question and start the work from there allowing things to unfold. For example: I was an artist in-residence at the School of Visual Arts in New York in 2012. As I arrive, I realise that the school is right next door to the 21st Street precinct for the NYPD. Synchronously I was busy making work on my father and my grandfather as police. And that was the very precinct my father had visited in America. And then I was – Okay, well, I am going to take that as a cue and I went from that point onwards.

KG: And the work unfolded from there.

MP: Yes in the end I spent four months with the police officers and finally made portrait video studies of them. [You can see an example of the work here.] Sometimes, however, doors shut. And then I have to listen. I can push. I’ll push and push and push. Although that was six or seven years ago now. I was more stubborn at this stage of my practice. When it’s not working out and door are closing, I stop. I just pause until they open again or something happens.

KG: If a door closes that can even be a sign in itself, you can take a detour and go in a new direction or indicate another way.

MP: Exactly.

KG: And how would you describe your mode of artistic practice?

MP: I’m a photographer, a photographic artist and a performative researcher. So my practice falls into the realm of conceptual photography and performance. The performative research points back to the previous question about when I’m researching -- a problem. For example, a year ago eight of my original prints got thrown away. So right now I am responding to that incident and the performative element is the attempt to make a work that disappears, a photograph that vanishes. And instead of doing the obvious, like putting it into a basin full of fixative or nonfixative or whatever, I am working with a more complicated process. I am in the process of figuring that out and that grappling becomes the performance, which I extend out to an audience or a viewer. A lot of my recent work is audience participatory.

KG: And it fits into artistic research, where the artistic practice is a mode of inquiry itself.

MP: Exactly, very process oriented and I really like to question the value system and the system of authority established in photography.

KG: Your interest generally in public space - what do you think of the nature of public space in Cape Town specifically and its hospitality or lack thereof?

MP: For me Cape Town has very obvious pockets of consciousness, pockets of economy, and really economies – because the people that trade in one pocket are not the people who trade in another. Quite simply put there is no Mr Price [mass market retail] anywhere near Kloof Street or Tamboerskloof. But there is a Mr Price everywhere else, likewise with Pep stores. I wanted to cut through that, which is why I started [Cloud Series] on the promenade because, to me, the promenade is a place that really exhibits those pockets of consciousness and pockets of economy.

KG: So you don’t see the Sea Point promenade as a place of mixity?

MP: Yes I do. I think there is a lot of variety but people function in their various bubbles or pockets and we don’t always see each other. On the promenade you can observe tourists ‘not see’ the poverty or somebody who is affluent not seeing someone digging in the bin. Very specifically I wanted to move out of the gallery and the ‘right places to exhibit’ for the Cloud Series.

KG: So tell me about that first manifestation - just recap that one on the promenade.

MP: In 2016, I applied to the City of Cape Town Arts and Culture department – Arts, Culture and Tourism at the time, now Sports & Tourism - for a public permit to install the work. Because I’d worked at VANSA [Visual Arts Network of South Africa] and I’d watched how really strange noncritical artworks had been put up all over the city, I wanted to engage with that. It was a very complicated and difficult process to get a conceptual artwork out into the public domain. I am still struggling with that. Eventually I got permission months later after having to do a couple of presentations at ward councilor meetings, which I realised mid presentation were actually performances. Reflecting on the performative research element; the process of applying for the permit was the work. Which again points back to the research process. During these meetings I discovered that the people writing policy have absolutely no idea and often no interest in understanding what contemporary art is. They don’t understand the metaphor or allegory in the project but are making policy decisions about art. One person said “I don’t understand what you are trying to say but that is not my job”. That is in fact their job. Eventually I got the permit, made the work and 24 hours later the work was taken down. I went to Media 24, they ran an article on it and I reinstalled the work. I had permission to run it for a month; however it didn’t get taken down for six months. Both instances did the work a favour because clouds by their nature vanish. And the ones that stayed up for six months started to disintegrate on their own.

KG: Did the City take the work down the first time, after 24 hours?

MP: Yes, the security of CCID [Central City Improvement District].

KG: The origin story for Cloud Series goes back to when you were on the highway spotting cloud formations and not being able to stop and take high resolution photos so you captured them on your phone instead. Can you just take me back. What captivated you in that moment and initially with this series, the original inspiration.

MP: The original inspiration goes back to the body of work tracing the Johannesburg Station Panels.

KG: The [JH] Pierneef Panels.*

MP: Yes Pierneef. His cloud formations are completely off the charts. They have got this reputation of being so biblical and I thought [at the time] that they were a pretty ridiculous exaggeration. Then I was driving on the N1, between somewhere and somewhere, like Colesberg and Beaufort West, and I spotted those incredibly elaborate, insane, cloud formations! And I was like…. Woah. I was on the highway and there’s this romantic idea that you stop and jack up a tripod like Ansel Adams. But the reality is that you can’t stop. You just actually can’t stop your car. There is nowhere to pull over … So I just pulled out a cellphone like a little Nokia 5200 and started photographing the clouds. And then I was stuck with a problem. I was photographing the Johannesburg Station Panels with a medium format high resolution beautiful camera and had the clouds as these 62k tiny little files. And I’m thinking - what am I going to do with these?

KG: So the panels you were photographing as well before that.

MP: Yes I have been to almost all of the 28 sites.

KG: Are they quite accessible?

MP: No it took me years to find everything. I first saw the Joburg station panels in Graaff-Reinet at the Pierneef Museum [in 2007]. I knew immediately that I was going to do that work. I had all these idealistic plans. I set myself a question. I thought I shall start with the Tweelingskoppe in Stellenbosch because I was in Cape Town. I was so literal in the beginning of the project – doing a then and now comparison of the spaces, square format camera, because they are square format paintings. And said to myself: “I am just going to go there – easy”. Oh. My. God. At that stage of the game, just to find digital copies of the Joburg station panels – they weren’t on the internet – was close on impossible. I went to the African Studies Library at UCT and found a hand-typed document of someone who had been to the sites but had not taken photographs, rather typed out instructions. Eventually Alan Crump gave me a copy of NJ Coetzee’s Pierneef, land and landscape: The Johannesburg Station Panels. I photocopied the images and used them as references when I was on the road. And what I discovered, which there was no writing about before, is that Pierneef was the very first photoshopper! What he would do is go into the environment and paint pleinair, then go in the studio and compose the panel. 

Not all of panels actually exist. Some of them are radical fabrications. Some of them are spot-on exact, where reality and fantasy meet, or reality and perfect composition and idealisation meet. The Swartberg pass is literally spot on. But in Namibia, he has moved the Spitskoppe to Karabib because the actual site was not dramatic. Actually that was where I started to have to work instinctively – because I had all these idealised plans of what I was going to do and then I was met with reality. A, you can’t pull over on the side of the road. B, the mountain and the foreground are in different locations so how do you capture that perspective? I spent hours on the road and days in the space. When I realised he had gathered information -- it was at the Premier Mine in Cullinan where I was generously shown the vault and saw his preparatory water colour sketches of the site -- I thought: how am I going to photograph this? So I broke the image up into three cameras. For some of the sites I sat in the space for 16 hours and mapped the shifting light. I did what I call pleinair photography.  

And then everyone was saying to me – go into Photoshop. But it was too obvious. In the end I did the opposite of what he did by making composite images and I broke down the form of the composition and by extension examined the concept and the ideology. It was then that I was starting to think for myself. Where there was a tree, I used a pylon. And the work started to become my own. Then Transnet threatened to sue for copyright infringement. But Pierneef’s work is in the public domain and various people in the art world stepped in to help me. 
I am interested in how deeply politicised the work is – Ivan Vladislavic wrote a story in a catalogue about the panels [available here: pp. 30-31] and I realised along the way that they were not intentionally political. They became political. This is where the clouds and public art crossover is, which took 10 years to resolve. Those works, the Joburg Station Panels were commissions, a commercial commission by a railway company. Spoornet were trying to incite rail travel so they paid Pierneef to go to those places and represent them as travel locations. They were travel ads, which is why they were so stylised and unrealistic.

KG: They were infamously unpeopled.

MP: Yes. They were utopian. They became seen as political ideology and I am not doubting that it represents that but what I am saying is that was not their initial intention. So then I started to think about advertising as public art making and the crossovers between popular culture, photography and advertising. I am really interested in how commercial photography and images made for daily media consumption reflect our society but are not made from a critical, visual arts standpoint. And that is where the investigation of the clouds and moving them out the gallery and into public space came from.

KG: That makes for interesting origins. With the Cloud Series, you created these interventions last year in collaboration with guerilla gallery at four very specific transit nodes in Cape Town. How did you come about selecting those sites?

MP: I was looking for council space, concrete walls, and concrete walls that would drop below the horizon. That came from installing the work at the promenade on that sea wall. The clouds below the horizon – there is something quite beautiful about it. So it was a strategic and aesthetic choice. And then the intersections became – as we spoke about at the beginning  – [KG: they are nodal points] yes where somebody from one area comes into another area. Like the taxis arriving into Tamboerskloof, everybody working in town and coming in at the station, De Waal Drive where people drive into the city from the Southern Suburbs.Despite the connection to the Pierneef work as advertising and public art, the clouds then started to take on their own lives. Quite often in my working process the work will start somewhere and then I will realise it’s not speaking about what I initially intended and it becomes a project in its own right.

KG: It’s kind of left its referents behind and it has its own meaning.

MP: Exactly, and that’s part of working instinctively – give it its own life and let it be. And the clouds have, as technology and cellular telephone technology has developed, become increasingly about the build-up and movement of information, which points to advertising and the dissemination of information. But ultimately for me about pixels and particles that move.

KG: And that is very much also to do with the materiality about the way you created those images. You created lowfi images, images that were pixellated and composite with a granular edge to it, effected in this quick way that was meant to be ephemeral. So that’s speaking to this bigger theme of pixelation and information, and also that it’s going to pass, that it’s a temporary intervention.

MP: I’m interested in self reflexivity, where the process is reflective of the medium. So I worked with A4 white office paper and made large composite images. I used a Canon desktop printer, or Lexmar laser printer. Because I’m talking about the aesthetic of this - like the kind of paper you have printed your questions out on right here.

When we worked together there was something quite nice about when security arrived [at Salt River] and we had to make a decision. Do we stay or go. And we just stood there and had a conversation. Security moved on. And we went ahead and made the work anyway. There was something about that – the immediacy and the speed of it. And if it was going to get taken down, it was going to get taken down. Clouds evaporate.

I had an audience. There was one guy who stood there the entire time. You were there, I was there, Jansen [van Staaden] the photographer – that was enough. A taxi drove past. That work has existed. I get a real kick out of that, providing work for an audience that does not obviously participate in the discourse of art, galleries and fairs.

KG: How long did [Cloud Series] stay up in public space for before getting erased or fading away?

MP: The promenade was 24 hours and then six months. The one in Tamboerskloof I think was a week. Salt River I don’t know but within a week it was down which I was expecting because it’s a real fa├žade [the station]. The De Waal Drive one peeled off because it was rainy – I think it took two or three weeks to do so. It had a good life. I loved the way it started coming off the wall. It looked a little shit, a little shoddy. I had a moment when the perfectionist in me reared up and I wanted to re-do it. I was like – no, leave it. Just leave it. And then the one we did under the bridges in Strand stayed and is still there. Someone has moved in there with a mattress right underneath it.

KG: You eventually chose to circumvent the permission route and self-declare instead. What are the risks in all sense of the word you care to address in making art that way. And what does that bring to the work, to just go ahead and do it without official sanction?

MP: My process in applying for permission was blocked. However there was a street artist who came from Belgium who started a company making street art around the city who was immediately given permission to self-permit. And I was being blocked left, right and centre as a South African local artist. So I thought …. I’m going to do the work myself then. I’m not doing any damage. It’s an impermanent installation. I walk on edge sometimes with my work intentionally and there are always risks involved. I appropriated an Omer Fast screenplay. I rewrote it and recontextualised it. I’ve never sold it. I wrote to him and his gallery and told them I had appropriated it. I’ve used it as my own work but always referenced that I’ve appropriated his work.

I have these visual literacy and feedback sessions on Tuesday nights where artists and photographers come to my house. We were speaking a bit about it last night. When you get to the point in your career as an artist that you can use your position to make a statement. It has to be conscious and intentional.  I understand that by putting myself in front of a camera and reading something is enough to be a subversive act. So it’s working with that and questioning the permission procedure – and by extension questioning authority. That’s why I call it performative research. I’m performing the questioning of policy. I’m questioning public art policy in Cape Town, and so therefore I am breaking the rules. I asked for permission. I responded to an ad published by the CCID ‘so you think you’re an artist’ threatening a R5000 fine if you are caught making public interferences. I didn’t get permission. And yes, I do think I’m an artist. So I made the work in defiance.

KG: And what kind of responses did it get – while manifesting the work, afterwards, distributing the fliers of the work. And did any of those responses surprise you at all?

MP: I have no idea how people responded because it is so difficult to gauge. I love the follow-up with the fliers. So often I get to my car and find a flyer advertising printing and flyer distribution under my windscreen wiper – it is such an obsolete mode of advertising. So I thought I’d use that as a medium for public art and I can’t get fined for it.

My ideal situation, which I am currently working on, would be that I get permission to be an artist in residence at Joburg Station and I get to work with the intersection between advertising outlets and art making. I hope to work with the re-worked Joburg station panels and at the same time distribute the clouds so that they go out like moving cloud formations across the landscape on passenger train lines.
What would be really amazing is if Airport Company South Africa (ACSA) would let me do a flash show at all the carousels around the country and the work goes out in magazines and newspapers around the country. I think that’s a project that is going to take years to get permission to do because it costs gazillions for airtime on advertising space.

KG: You’ve been interested in different ways artistic work is valued. This work also deals with this – giving artworks for free, ephemeral work. It raises the deeper question.

MP: Yes.  

KG: Another way of cutting into this topic is that Pierneef’s works are also highly financialised at auction, politically it has its issues, there are all these weird anomalies, there are a lot of different value vectors going on there.

MP: So true. I never thought of that.

KG: What are you busy with now?

MP: I’ve been working on the Conversations with my Father work for a decade. There is a deadline coming up now I want to meet. [Shows folder.] This part is a three-way conversation happening with information. The information is my grandfather’s documents, photographs and images; and my father’s documents and images. And I am interfering with them. These are old confidential police documents.

KG: What date are these?

MP: 1950s to 80s. So I’m taking photographs – this is a found photograph of my grandfather, which was defaced when I found it.

KG: Do you know by whom?

MP: I don’t know. And I have printed over the document.  The print is an image of him with the landscape in the background – this was just a test.
This one is my raptor. [Shows page with figure of raptor.] And what happened by sheer serendipity is that on the last page it ended up printing on to the actual strategic tactical drawing, circling the enemy in war which reflects the same strategy the raptor takes when hunting prey. I quite love this printing over the documents but I have one chance to do it - they are one of one original documents. It’s just figuring out how it’s going to work. So I’m working on those as one more section of that conversation.  

And I’m making an installation for a show in Stockholm. The theme is Heat Energy, and I’m working with flashes. When a flash triggers, and you look at it, it imprints an image in your retina. That impression is the photograph.


*JH Pierneef (1886 - 1957) was commissioned by the SA Railways in 1929 to paint 32 works, which were hung in the Johannesburg Station. They were intended to depict “places of historical interest or natural beauty” and intended to encourage tourism and rail travel.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Free artworks create new 'Cloud Series' formations

--23 November, Cape Town—Limited edition give-away artworks created by artist Monique Pelser are next week being distributed along commuter circuits in central Cape Town. The gesture extends a series of public art interventions called Cloud Series and forms part of the same body of work. The latest artworks, printed and distributed in the form of fliers, feature cumulus clouds created from composite images.

One of the artwork fliers, by Pelser, editioned to 1000 - part of 'Cloud Series'

Cloud Series is an ongoing performative body of work and research by Pelser that engages issues of movement, flux and migration through the metaphor of clouds. Last month, in association with guerilla gallery, Pelser instigated the first manifestation of this series – a public art intervention at a bridge, a railway station exit, under a flyover, and alongside a freeway offramp. These sites were specifically chosen as nodal points of transmission – of things, people and information. The artist made quick, performative contributions to the public sphere leaving temporary artworks behind. [See 'Behind the Scenes', below.]

Cloud Series contributes to an urban dialogue around public space, access and erasures. The public artworks have since dissipated and this next iteration, of freely distributed works in a limited edition, now picks up the conversational thread. It offers the artwork to the public in a new way, to carry the work forward and extend it in unforeseen directions. It also plays around with the concept of value by making a limited number available for free, and access subject to chance. 

The other artwork flier, by Pelser, editioned to 1000 - part of 'Cloud Series'.

The artist first became interested in cloud formations when re-working JH Pierneef's Johannesburg Station Panels, responding to his elaborate biblical clouds referencing God's omnipresence. She became interested in the omnipresence of information in the media. Travelling the country in search of these landscapes, she would see the best, most elaborate formations while on the highway. Since it was not possible to pull over, she would take images with her phone. Running these images in a digital programme, allowing the low quality and pixilation to be enhanced, created the end result. She then used an application to cut the image into 20 composites.

For further updates, follow @guerillaza and @moniquepelserstudio 

One of the 'Cloud Series' artworks on a car windscreen.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Cloud Series: Behind the scenes

--4 November, 2019, Cape Town--Cloud Series, a group of composite artworks created by artist Monique Pelser, and positioned last month at transit nodes in site-specific parts of Cape Town as a public art intervention together with guerilla gallery, have led interesting second lives.

The Cloud Series artworks are of cumulus clouds, building up in different formations, that speak to themes of movement, migration and flux. They are effectively temporary installations, comprised of differing numbers of smaller images pasted onto surfaces by the artist. They are designed to be temporary works that offer a fleeting message and provocation. The artworks are ephemeral and erode over time, leaving traces of themselves and perhaps being intervened with by other visual modes and tags, creating in the process a kind of urban dialogue. Indeed, this is what has transpired.

The Cloud Series at the Salt River site was installed across a series of pillars where the work created the illusion of a cloud through which commuters entered and exited from a tunnel, at a railway station. Within days, a large notice advertising a public event for the South African Navy had been stuck over one of these cloud formations.

Another Cloud Series artwork installation site, at a freeway offramp, began to peel away after some days to reveal a graffiti tag that it was obscuring. It became more evident that the artwork is in fact part of a series of formerly erased expressions that add up to a kind of sentence along the curvature of the entire wall, which the City over time has erased with patches of dark grey paint. 

The third intervention, on a bridge, is positioned over an existing artwork that mimics these painted-over grey squares that cover up tags with a series of squares of their own, painted in the urban fabric. Cloud Series was positioned against one of these squares as backdrop, creating an artistic double play.

There are two more sites to go in this series of public art interventions by Pelser, manifested in conjunction with guerilla gallery. (See the IG feed @guerillaza).

Below are three time-lapse videos giving a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how the artist created the composite performative artwork interventions, sheet by sheet, at each site:

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Cloud Series: #somethingintheair

--22 October, 2019, Cape Town--Artist Monique Pelser, in association with guerilla gallery, instigated the first of a two-part performative public art intervention in Cape Town last weekend at a traffic overpass, a railway station exit, a bridge underpass, and a freeway offramp. The sites were carefully chosen as nodal points of transmission – of people, things and information. The artist made short performative interventions that left behind temporary artworks in a Cloud Series, as gestural contributions to a public conversation. 
“Clouds are the transformation of matter – that are in constant flux,” says Pelser. “The clouds in this work reference the transformation of digital information, movement, networks and migration.” 
A final duo of sites will soon follow to complete the intervention. Fliers of related limited edition artworks (as above) are this week being distributed along commuter pathways as part of a broader dialogue. 
Photographic documentation of the Cloud Series will soon be shared online. Further background context will be published on guerilla gallery's 'Projects' section once the full intervention is complete.

#clouds #somethingintheair #pixellation #lowfi #performativeresearch #publicart #publicspace #cumulous #technology #icloud #mediation #sitespecific #flux #transformation #information #movement #networks #migration #capetown @moniquepelserstudio @guerillaza

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Performative research project in the works for 2019

--February, 2019--guerilla gallery is this year partnering with an artist in Cape Town to realise a performative research project that comprises a public installation, live performance, documentation and public sphere engagement. The details remain under wraps until the project has manifested but will be published here afterwards, as well as on our Facebook and Instagram channels (@guerillaza).  

During 2019, guerilla gallery will also be folded into a new umbrella entity, Lodestar Lab, which will focus in its curatorial and editorial work upon making connections between current affairs and the contemporary artworld. This sustainability measure will provide the guerilla gallery platform with institutional traction; it remains the same entity in every other respect. 
In sum, guerilla gallery is an artist-led, non-commercial platform that operates on a low-budget, low-fi ethos. It aims to help facilitate new and experimental artwork. It does not have its own premises; it is nomadic and shapeshifts according to the projects its founder supports, which are usually site-specific, temporary and performative in nature. 

The platform (b. 2012) has generally mustered support for one key project a year. These have included a collaborative exhibition on art, media and the law held in a factory wing (Elgin Rust's Appeal 2012), a durational performance art intervention from underground stormwater tunnels (Pauline Theart & Kim Gurney's Cape Town Under: The Third Voice) and a mural intervention on a street corner interface (Sandile Radebe's Golden City Plan) - see Projects. After a three-year hiatus, while its founder completed a PhD, the platform is back in action. 

The format is flexible and adaptive to project requirements. guerilla gallery does not have the capacity of a mainstream platform but that also comes with advantages: nomadism, flexibility and positive risk-taking. It also provides a combination of curatorial expertise, artworld knowledge, media experience / publicity interface, advisory capacity, site logistics, installation assistance, partial documentation, breathing space and camaraderie in building an artistic undercommons. 

Signage spotted at the foot of a colonial-era statue of a South African military commander, Major-General Sir Henry Timson Lukin, situated in the Company's Gardens in central Cape Town. Photo: Kim Gurney

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Call for proposals: guerilla revival

A found artwork on the CPUT campus boundary in Cape Town, following the campus enclosure with barbed wire that was erected during recent student protests and kept in place since then. Image: Kim Gurney.
--Cape Town, 3 September 2018--guerilla gallery, an independent offspace, seeks proposals for a site-specific, temporary artwork or intervention that provokes a different spatial rendering in a thoroughfare or place of waiting, at a site located within greater Cape Town.

guerilla gallery (b. 2012) is a gallery without walls. Instead of comprising bricks and mortar, it moves nomadically to find everyday spaces and awkward places and matches them to artists whose practice engages the spatial realm as integral to meaning.

Past projects have included hosting a group exhibition in a factory wing in Johannesburg’s innercity (Elgin Rust’s Appeal) engaging art, media and the law that took the iterative form of a growing legal argument, a performance art collaboration that included an endurance lullaby sung by Pauline Theart from stormwater tunnels that interlace beneath Cape Town’s city centre (Cape Town Under: The Third Voice), and facilitating a mural intervention on a street corner in Johannesburg’s Jeppe (Golden City Plan), linked to Sandile Radebe’s solo exhibition that rescripted the city.

guerilla gallery is an ad-hoc, independent platform that has just emerged from a three-year hiatus to continue plotmaking from a Cape Town studio backyard. It operates whenever resources and circumstances conspire. It has a lowfi ethos that includes slow time, soft touch, situated knowledges and repurposing the everyday. Visit to see if it’s a fit for your practice before applying.

Still here? Send an email by 31 October 2018 to including: (i) a specific and feasible idea that meets the criteria above; (ii) a short narrative biography about yourself or your collective; (iii) a statement about your practice and what you try to achieve with it; and (iv) a ballpark budget for the intervention that includes an artist’s fee.

who: all artists, makers, do-ers, insurgent imagineers
what: something lowkey, smallscale, with a sense of mischief
where: place of thoroughfare and/ waiting, cape town +
when: deadline 31 october 2018 for manifestation at a convenient moment during the first half of 2019
why: because
connect: @guerillaza