NIROX has a range of events, exhibitions and workshops available during the year.
On Saturday, 2 September, artist-in-residence Io Makandal, hosted a workshop where she walked participants through how to make Bokashi mud balls, using a combination of effective microorganisms, soil, clay, and bran, to be used to process NIROX’s waterways.
In addition to being shown how to make them, participants has the opportunity to participate, by throwing the mudballs into the water, initiating the process of slow enzyme release.
The workshop formed part of the artist’s site-specific environmental response to the current water crisis in the area of the Cradle of Humankind. As an eco-feminist with a practice concerned with urban ecologies, this workshop will extend her ongoing research in and collaboration with effective microbes (EMs) and ecological matter to effect a process of transformation and healing.
A change of habits will not alter nature
A three-dimensional boxset gives the illusion of a real room. The actors pretend to be unaware of the audience, separated by an invisible 'fourth wall' that is defined by the proscenium arch and the stage floor, which serves as a frame through which the audience observes theatrical events from a more or less unified angle.
Actors usually ignore the audience, focusing exclusively on the dramatic world. They remain absorbed in its fiction, in a state that Konstantin Stanislavski called 'public solitude' - the ability to behave as one would in private, despite being watched, or to be 'alone in public.' The audience's acceptance of this transparent fourth wall requires a suspension of disbelief in order to enjoy the fiction as though observing real events.
The history of photography has also assumed a subtle and implicit fourth wall, in particular the idea that the viewer is able to glimpse into a previously unknown 'reality,' be it of a place or person, which is packaged for immediate consumption.
Alter Nature takes its name from the cautionary fable by Aesop, titled The Raven and The Swan, in which a raven, through its overwhelming desire to look like the swan, gives up its way of life and attempts to mimic the swan, leading to its eventual demise. The story feels appropriate for our times, in which the unprecedented onset of Al-generated imagery and the echo chambers of social media and deep fakes have left many in a state of 'public solitude,' caught in the theatre of cyberspace.
The works on show deliberately break the fourth wall of the image-making process. Through the use of damaged monochrome celluloid film, fault lines and light seep into the images and create a meta-theatrical curtain within the landscape. Through their analogue dissonance, these images question our relationship to the natural world, while subverting the illusionary nature of photography and its role in the manufacture of 'truth.'
NIROX is happy to announce its partnership with Moleskine Foundation, to become the first international Hub to host a portion of the Moleskine Foundation Collection, including all notebooks produced by the young creative changemakers participating in AtWork Chapters in South Africa. The first notebooks to enter NIROX space will be the 32 artworks created during AtWork Joburg and AtWork Lab Soweto. Both workshops took place in 2022, during the international “What Comes First?” AtWork Tour.
NIROX will keep growing the Collection every year, inviting artists in-residence to create a personalised Moleskine notebook as part of their residency.
Temporary exhibitions of the Collection will take place following specific occasions throughout the year.
Join us for the first exhibition opening on May 28.
The Moleskine Foundation is a non-profit organization that pursues a mission of “Creativity for Social Change.” A central belief is that creativity is key to producing positive change in society and driving our collective future. Its focus is to inspire, empower and connect young people to transform themselves and their communities. To do so, the Foundation implements a set of unconventional educational programs that unlock the creative potential and develop a change-making attitude in youth. The Foundation enables collaborative processes to generate spaces where criticality and imagination can occur. It is done through developing a global platform of cultural and creative partner organizations operating in the field of creativity for social transformation.
About the Collection
The Collection reflects the variety, wealth and complexity of contemporary creative thinking, through the largest Collection of author notebooks of our time. It gathers the contributions of artists, designers, architects, musicians, filmmakers, illustrators, intellectuals and philosophers, who – page after page – have filled notebooks with thoughts, sketches, images, often turning them into artifacts completely different from the original. The notebook is the device, the limit, the origin. The Foundation is committed to showcasing the Collection at international art events, festivals, exhibitions, and Biennales to give as much visibility to the artists as possible and, at the same time, to sustain fundraising initiatives.
AtWork invites young people from underprivileged communities to participate in a week of discussion and self-reflection on a chosen topic. In the end, each participant produces a personalized notebook to be included in an exhibition curated by the group. The notebooks are wonderfully varied, but whether sculptural or textual, they all powerfully convey the impact an intense week of thinking can have on a young mind. Since its birth in 2012, AtWork has held 22 workshops in 18 different cities worldwide, involving more than 500 students and 15 international cultural organizations.
FUNDACIÓN CASA WABI
Fundación Casa Wabi and NIROX are happy to announce a new collaboration between their institutions in Mexico and South Africa, to take place in 2023/2024. The initiative is created to strengthen exchange between artists and creatives from these regions. The participants will be selected by invitation from each institution, within the parameters of their programs. The residencies available are: a six-week residency at Casa Wabi (Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca) for one South African artist, and a six-week residency at NIROX (Cradle of Humankind, South Africa) for one former Mexican resident from Casa Wabi.
Fundación Casa Wabi
Fundación Casa Wabi is a non-profit organization that encourages a dialog between contemporary art and the local communities based on three locations: Puerto Escondido, Mexico City and Tokyo. The name comes from the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-Sabi, which believes on finding beauty and harmony in simplicity, the imperfect and unconventional. Its mission is focused on building a social development through art, which in itself is carried on through five core programs: residencies, exhibitions, clay, cinema and mobile library.
Casa Wabi is located in the Pacific coast, 20 minutes away from the Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca airport. Situated between the mountains and the sea, the main location was designed by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando and under the initiative of Mexican artist Bosco Sodi. The installations include a multipurpose room, six independent dormitories, two closed studios and another six open studios, a 450 m2 exhibition gallery and various work areas that conform an ideal place to recharge one’s energy amongst other artists. In the past years, the Foundation has opened a Clay Pavilion designed by Portuguese Architect Alvaro Siza (Pritzker, 1992), a Guayacán Pavilion by the Mexican studio Ambrosi Etchegaray, a Chicken Coop by the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, a Compost Pavilion by the Uruguayan studio Solano Benítez, and recently, the High temperature kiln and the gardens by Mexican architect Alberto Kalach.
Fundación Casa Wabi residency program is aimed at national and international artists and seeks to generate a dialogue with the communities surrounding Casa Wabi. The residences promote multidisciplinary encounters between different generations that stimulate their experimental and creative concerns, contributing to the development of the social and cultural fabric of the area. Residents develop a project that will engage in a positive social and cultural development with the communities. The program seeks to promote three key elements to maintain our mission’s balance: the resident’s creative inspiration, their relationships to other artists and the Foundation’s team, and the active exchange with the communities.
During their stay, we ask the residents to develop a log/piece that describes their experience in a free format. This artwork will be donated to the Foundations’ collection. The logs are an essential part of the residency, since they become a trace of our residents’ experiences.
Fragility, Tension and Equilibrium
Some words about an installation by Nathalie Karagiannis
When we stay in another country and start cooking, cleaning or gardening, we discover that every place cherishes tools that we have never seen before and sometimes only exist there.
Thus, we picture all human beings travelling to the next country every year, be it South, East, West or North, leaving all their gear behind and discovering the instruments used by the neighbouring people. At the end of one’s life cycle, one would have lived everywhere, having partaken in all kinds of habits and rituals, finally familiar with all clothing styles, colours, textures, tastes, smells, herbs, plants, fruits, vegetables and animals alive or dried, smoked, steamed, cooked, broiled, baked, pulled or grilled for a cosy braai.
Alas, since the majority of humankind is not so keen on being displaced, the experiment is limited to offering foreign residencies to artists, writers and scientists, hoping their alienation might produce some joy for the others.
And indeed, displacing Nathalie Karagiannis, a thinker, writer, draughtswoman and sculptress from Europe, has led to some wondrous minimal displacements in Johannesburg, shaping a spatial poetry that echoes the discontinuity of all our lives, dreams, relationships, strivings, stories, beliefs and values. (She didn’t have the time to cook, clean and tend to a garden, but she allowed her eyes to wander in all sorts of places.)
One square meter of lawn is removed from a park and placed on the floor of an exhibition space. The work might remind us of the square meter called Private Property demarcated with ropes by the Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers at dokumenta V in 1972. Here, the rectangular wound in the park is marked by four short sticks at the corners, which are linked by orange elastic bands that look like the ones used by cyclists in my country fourty years ago. In my mind, two time shifts take place. In your mind other things happen, invisible to me, unless we share our experiences.
I love the feathers in the outlets. Electricity gone soft. Forbidden pleasures for children. Poetic safety mesures. Pseudo-literary soft porn. Unexpected, subtle intervention… In my country, the feathers would have belonged to seaguls or maybe pigeons. There are no other wild birds with a black and white plumage. Unless the come from chickens? Feasants? Guinea fowl? Strolling about in the park? Two needles of a porcupine connect yellow tennis balls to a white, yellow and blue drawing. A hybrid sculpture-drawing. An error. A cross-over.
Did Schopenhauer write a story about people being like porcupine? Always trying to get closer, but always getting hurt?
We think of unsafe attachment, precarious love, intimacy fragilised, momentary equilibrium, estrangement, loneliness, craving, probing, clinging, clawing for breathing space.
Let’s build a bridge with two garden tools, yellow as well. Look how they have needles too, that meet like rigid, needy fingers.
Red strings tying the fingers of an adolescent scrub.
Attached to a wall a big red elastic band stretched and ending in round claws hooked behind two screws, preventing a glass from falling.
A meeting between eight eggs and four used wooden chairs leaning against each other, legs up, only one leg resting on an egg… In 1964 the young German artist Bernd Lohaus, sent abroad by his teacher Joseph Beuys, does a performance in Madrid, having the four legs of a wooden chair rest on four eggs: El Nacimiento del Huevo. Karagiannis’ sculptural installation is exquisite. An inert dance, a frozen movement, a delicate encounter of singular objects; speaking of tender feelings, hesitations, prudence and tact.
On a window, we read samples of texting. Of two people trying to understand each other? Or is an artist speaking to us? To the objects and the space around her?
Two couples of yellow rakes meet, two of them resting on a lemon. The colour yellow prevails. A bifurcating branch springs from the wall, holding yellow and green sponges. At some distance a white plastic bottle with green and yellow label stands buy… Women artists love to toy with cleaning gear (to tease their mom). In 2007 Marlene Dumas told me she doesn’t like to clean her brushes. At the end of the day she just leaves them in a bucket filled with water. And that’s how she ended up painting a portrait of a weeping Marilyn Monroe with the dirty water.
No tears are visible here. The world is stripped of sentimentality. Skin and flesh ripped away. Swept by the wind. Stuck in the branch. We recognise the bones and joints in the drawings. Invisibly struck by grief, self-doubt, anxiety, craving and hope.
Montagne de Miel, Saturday 4 February 2023