Mar 01 2010
Natives and Visitors

Natives and Visitors

Arlene Amaler-Raviv will be exhibiting new paintings and drawings at the Worldart gallery in Cape Town from 13 to 28 February. The title of the show is natives and visitors and Arlene has the following to say about it:

This body of work makes direct reference to the people who try to establish roots and create homes in the places I inhabit and pass through every day.
For many this process is only made possible by the tenacity of their longing, the human longing, for a home. The environment itself is often hostile and unwelcoming, even for those who can afford homes. For those on the margins, achieving a home is the practice of the art of the impossible. In these spaces, the ugly becomes beautiful, the native becomes a visitor in an alien land, the migrant becomes native, the uninhabitable is inhabited.
None of this is evident in sociological analysis. It is found in the vulnerability, fragility and courage of individuals. The longing to rebuild the elusive home that each has lost can be glimpsed in the passing faces and forms, in the details of lives, in the countless ways in which grim urban spaces are claimed and made human.

In downtown Johannesburg last year I first came across the activities of the “Red Ants”, the ruthless force deployed by the municipality to evict “illegal” squatters. The image of the red ant has haunted me: their efficiency and single-mindedness, the idea that the homeless and the shack dweller are dirt to be overrun and cleaned up by a force of killer ants. I was struck by the disjunction between the ache in the human heart for a home and the material forces of law and order.
My response as an artist was to revisit 50 paintings on paper that I painted in 1998 and rework and adapt them to the situation in 2010, when countless individuals  are actually evicted from their homes or have to live with the threat from day to day.

where: Worldart, 54 Church Street, Cape Town
when: Saturday 13 February to Saturday 17 February

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