Igshaan Adams looks back to move for­ward in his new show

House and Leisure (South Africa) - - Contents - TEXT ALIX-ROSE COWIE PHO­TOGRAPHS SUP­PLIED

When Dust Set­tles, Stan­dard Bank Young Artist Award win­ner Igshaan Adams’s solo show, was ini­tially ex­hib­ited at the Na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val in Gra­ham­stown in mid-2018 and is cur­rently on at the Stan­dard Bank Gallery in Jo­han­nes­burg. The ex­hi­bi­tion com­prises pieces that read­dress con­cepts Adams has ex­plored or ma­te­ri­als he has used in pre­vi­ous bod­ies of work, in a quest to find out how these may evolve and be extended through ma­tu­rity and hind­sight.

Look­ing back is a reg­u­lar ex­er­cise for the artist, whose work is con­cerned with per­sonal his­to­ries, par­tic­u­larly his own, grow­ing up Mus­lim in Cape Town in the ’80s and ’90s. The main fo­cus of the show will be in­stal­la­tions made with vinyl floor­ing, which re­visit Vinyl, his first solo show af­ter grad­u­at­ing from art school in 2009, for which he ex­tracted worn vinyl floor­ing from homes in Bon­te­heuwel, where he grew up.

For his new body of work, the white shapes left in the floor­ing af­ter the printed pat­terns have been walked off dur­ing daily do­mes­tic life are mir­rored in new largescale bead and yarn ta­pes­tries. ‘I’m in­ter­ested in try­ing to piece to­gether nar­ra­tives by look­ing at marks on the floor – some­thing so over­looked – and won­der­ing what kind of sto­ries they tell,’ says Adams. Among the vinyl wall in­stal­la­tions and wo­ven works will be

ab­stract sculp­tural fig­ures made from the same white fenc­ing his grand­par­ents had in their front gar­den, ob­scured within lay­ers of string – a nod to the weav­ing he has in­cor­po­rated into his prac­tice more re­cently. The ghostly fig­ures rep­re­sent ideas, dreams or as­pi­ra­tions made vis­i­ble.

We spoke to Adams shortly be­fore When Dust Set­tles first opened in June 2018. What was the start­ing point for

When Dust Set­tles?

Start­ing out years ago, I set goals for my­self that seemed so un­achiev­able. So, af­ter win­ning the Stan­dard Bank Young Artist Award, I took that mo­ment to have a good look at ev­ery­thing I’ve done. I was cu­ri­ous to see how I’d de­vel­oped and evolved and how things had changed. I asked what I’d missed the first time I dealt with cer­tain is­sues and how I’d ap­proach the medium or the con­cept dif­fer­ently as an older ver­sion of my­self. I looked back at it all and I opened up my en­tire prac­tice to my­self. How would you de­scribe your prac­tice? I ex­plain my prac­tice and the way I think as a mind map: the core idea is al­ways an in­ter­nal search, go­ing in­wards as deep as I can and re­lat­ing that space to the ex­ter­nal, whether that’s my phys­i­cal body, my en­vi­ron­ments or the play­ers within those en­vi­ron­ments. Other con­cerns then branch off from this. My prac­tice is not lin­ear. The con­cepts I ex­plore con­tinue. As much as I’ve dealt with cer­tain is­sues in the past, there are still residues of things in new works.


Some of the worn house­hold floor­ing that forms part of Igshaan Adams’ lat­est solo ex­hi­bi­tion, When Dust Set­tles, in which he read­dresses con­cepts of his iden­tity ex­plored in pre­vi­ous bod­ies of work; the mul­ti­sen­sory in­stal­la­tion, bring­ing to­gether as­pects of sculp­ture, tex­tiles, found ob­jects, fur­ni­ture and per­for­mance, was shown ear­lier this year at Gallery in the Round at the Na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val in Gra­ham­stown; ‘Fall’, made from beads, gal­vanised wire, cot­ton twine, mixed rope and fringe.


‘Carry’ and ‘Stay’, made from gar­den fenc­ing, cot­ton twine and wire.

What are some of the past works you ref­er­ence in When Dust Set­tles? In a pre­vi­ous per­for­mance my fa­ther pre­pared my body in the Is­lamic rit­ual as if I’d died (‘Please Re­mem­ber II’, 2013). This time I’ve asked my older brother to do a feet-wash­ing rit­ual with me.

My brother and I grew up in apartheid Cape Town. He was very light-skinned, and was cer­tainly treated dif­fer­ently be­cause of it, so I be­came a sort of shadow fig­ure. In my youth I felt like I didn’t have an iden­tity of my own, I was just Kashief’s brother. That was tough.

To­day we have a re­ally tight bond; we’re com­mit­ted to be­ing good broth­ers to each other. I re­ally en­joy this idea of broth­er­hood that as much as we grew up in the same en­vi­ron­ment, we took such dif­fer­ent paths and are very dif­fer­ent peo­ple. In this per­for­mance, I’m bring­ing to­gether ideas of for­give­ness and hu­mil­ity.

In a sep­a­rate per­for­mance, my mom will be cook­ing boe­ber, a sweet milk drink we serve dur­ing re­li­gious gather­ings. The idea came to me in a dream be­fore I be­gan my works for this ex­hi­bi­tion. In it my mom was boil­ing big pots of milk that she said she’d pre­pared espe­cially be­fore any­body else ar­rived so that I could have as much as I wanted. It’s al­most like a per­for­mance-slash-part of the cater­ing. How do you hope peo­ple will re­act to the work? As an artist you are al­ways aware of how you think peo­ple will read the work, so you try to guide peo­ple through the ex­pe­ri­ence. But I en­joy be­ing sur­prised by how peo­ple see things. I’ve de­lib­er­ately made an ef­fort to keep some things mys­te­ri­ous. You don’t want to give ev­ery­thing away where peo­ple think, ‘Oh I get it, it’s time to move on.’ You want them to work a lit­tle bit. I think I’ve achieved that, leav­ing the viewer mys­ti­fied and maybe even a lit­tle bit frus­trated. But I’ve tried to bal­ance this by us­ing aes­thet­ics and beauty. Beauty is im­por­tant to me be­cause peo­ple can ap­pre­ci­ate it even if they don’t un­der­stand the con­cept.

When Dust Set­tles is cur­rently on show at the Stan­dard Bank Gallery in Fred­er­ick Street, Jo­han­nes­burg CBD, un­til 15 Septem­ber 2018. stan­dard­ when­dust­set­tles

T HIS PAGE, CLOCK­WISE F ROM A BOVE ‘Spin’, made from wood, metal, gal­vanised wire, cot­ton twine and mixed rope; Igshaan Adams; in­stal­la­tion view of When Dust Set­tles (2018).

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