Flashing lights and flickering TV screens. Smells of fried eggs, alcohol and fishfloated around the silver-wrapped gallery space. The exhibition space became a kaleidoscope, creating an overwhelming visual and sensory experience that enveloped the viewer, distorting time.
Blue Lies, White Truths and Grey Areas is the culmination of an intensive Masters of Fine Arts program by Daniella Dagnin. The exhibition and the performances which opened on the evening of the 27th of May were only the tip of the ice-berg though, the visual element of this show is based on a novel written in the format of Interactive PDF. The interactive PDF is comprised of videos, sounds and GIFS. The novel acts as a script or lens through which the visual component is experienced. This approach is rather exciting in the way that it presents new possibilities for engaging academic requirements in a form that is true to one’s artistic concept.
Entering into The Point of Order we were redirected down a small corridor on the side of the space only to re-emerge on the opposite side from the entrance. This simple detour changed our perception of the space and the ways in which we were no forced to engage with it. Scattered throughout the space and suspended in mid-air, we were confronted with white picket fences, Barbie dolls clamped in a boerewors braai grid. Small TV monitors played repeated footage of donkeys braying, ocean views or the Rhodes statue being removed. And projections on the walls created vignettes into scenes and scenarios unfolding in some past which affected the obscure present. As Daniella wrote in her interactive PDF, Blue Lies, White Truths and Grey Areas is centered in a dichotomous South African landscape; a landscape situated between both ocean and casinos, dry fynbos and television sets, the interconnected green lagoons and strip clubs.”
Intensely curated and consistent in a particularly grungy aesthetic from the moment you set foot in the exhibition space, The Point of Order, there were a number of elements intended to antagonise. We are surrounded by broken bottles smashed on the floor, a hanging inflatable sex doll, a rocking horse from the afterlife and performances of characters descaling raw fish and choking on mussels. Blue Lies, White Truths and Grey Areas uses an amalgamation of characters, both real and fictional, to further obscure the lines between reality and fiction. Despite the overwhelming visual and sensory elements, there was a sense of vulnerability and sensitivity that permeated the narrative. A projected video of a wind-spun washing line flashed a portrait of a white police officer before our eyes. Speaking casually with one of the other viewers, he mentioned to me that the photograph was of his uncle, who had passed away a number of years prior in an “alleged” suicide, alleged due to the fact that he was left handed and the weapon was found in his right. Reality and fiction were being blurred before our eyes.
What became interesting for me was the feeling that I myself was being sucked into this narrative, along with the other viewers of the exhibition. Having spent far longer in the exhibition that I do at most openings, a lull in the conversation being had in a group caused one girl to say, “Maybe the joke’s on us and we’re the artwork.” Perhaps the childhood rocking horse was just a donkey after all.
Koos Van der Wat AKA “Frank”
Natasha Brown AKA “X”
Jessica Robinson AKA “Micaiah”
Solomzi Moleketi AKA “Tigger”
Jennifer Winterburn AKA Busty Barmaid
Magician: Neil Harris
Disco Ball: Alison Martin
Make-up Artist: Erin Bothma
Photographer: Marcia Elizabeth