Phonetic Signifiers with Katz at Blank

Bronyn Katz ”Kx (ii)” 2019. Courtesy of Blank Projects.

Artist Bronwyn Katz had an exhibition showing at Blank Projects. As one of the artists represented by the gallery she is an artist interested in an elliptical aesthetic. A strategy that characterises most of the artists represented by the gallery working with instillation and performance art.
This exhibition her third with the gallery is a combination of sound, instillation and wall based eclectic sculptors finished with iron and corrugated iron. Katz is an artist whose oeuvre is evolving, initially when I first encountered her work, she worked with found bed-springs. Material she rendered elliptical by stripping some of its content. This way she could discourse the relationship between topographical colonisation in a geographical sense and colonisation of the body. The sedate quality of those works is translated in this exhibition whose title is a fictitious language the artist has created

This language inspired by consonants in the Khoekhoe language and other southern African languages. Is an attempt by the artist to create an awareness of the body by formulating a language form that is gestural, engaging the mouth, tongue and hands. This way communication can be discerned to be a holistic experience, in comparison to the fragmented and demarcated forms of communication in traditionally western contexts. Interested in forming a relationship between the body and the works she creates, Katz work engages the spaces it occupies in a measure unobtrusive and immediate to the spatial environment. This way like the body, there is a measure of the auto-referential operational in the work itself.
This is articulated in the piece titled ‘X’, a piece that is an instillation of rod like posts amalgamated with steel wool, cardboard and accompanied by a sound instillation. The rods or posts are of variable height, consistent in material with the accompanying sound, they evoke the sense about the body that relies on mimicry, utilising alternate bodies as mirrors, to learn communication and to impart communication. The different sounds in the instillations resounds with a sense of nostalgia and distance, inherent in the processes of communication in the exhibition. In this particular piece the sound is characterised by a bold and discordant effect. There is nothing haunting about the sound, rather its hollow essence is reminiscent of the self referential measure in the Katz’s work.
The wall based instillations in the exhibition are three wire string pieces also characteristic of the elliptical and truncated effect that her works tend to be finished with. Each titled ‘Kx’ (i), (ii) and (iii), on the wall they assume a delicacy symbolic of the tenuous connections language forms can be characterised by. Linear in their departure, the wire on the wall is imbued with an insouciant effect, as if it was symbolic of communication lines, they cannot not be consistent and straight. What is impactful about these pieces is that these inconsistent lines are rendered such by the energy with which they are imparted or the energy in the distance between communication points. Nostalgia not only subsumes what is disintegrated or lost, it also subsumes the recognition of inconsistency in the processes of communication. ‘Kx’ (i) is the biggest of the pieces in terms of height from the ceiling to the floor. In this piece the delicacy of the lines is pronounced, it is imbued with a frailty that is not only stable in its insouciance, it is also about resilience.
There is an iron ore piece in the collection, the ore combine with steel shaped like the demarcation of a window frame, with extended arms at the bottom of the piece. The ore is placed within and without the frame of the steel like a chessboard. The work also resounds with a sense of delicacy, the ore can be symbolic of intrinsic knowledge or forms of communication. The fact the ore is connected with a unifying steel form, speaks to the distance and propensity for this intrinsic knowledge to be lost. Like the history of the indigenous languages that inspired Katz own language have been subject to or can be subject to a measure of erasure or transformation.
With the subject of the exhibition being about how to impart learned forms of communication, the artist perhaps seeks to impart consciousness to the audience about how individuality is recognised. The measure of the auto-referential in the titled ‘Ore’ demonstrate how the origins of communication are imbued with the resilience of organic materials. The sense of the transformational is their susceptibility to creative individual and collective manipulation. This is not necessarily a combative stance, rather the energy with which forms of social and linguistic creation have the taken need to be examined. Katz demonstrates its substance has not disintegrated, rather the frail structure is collapsing.
The section in the exhibition comprised of steel and corrugated iron forms is imbued with a measure of formality and structures that are finished with a minimalist impact. Each titled with one sign that comprise the main title of the exhibition in its created text. Resound with a measure of abstraction that bespeak how linguistic forms can manifest themselves, they are elliptical representations of the sound instillations that accompany them. Each given its own sound recording, expressing her created language’ consonants, in times playful and truncated, to resounding and elongated. The pieces titled in the following manner ‘!’, ‘/’,’//’ and a cross with two lines in the middle. Communicated how processes of transformation in language retain their origins, but can loose an essence in a sense of neglect in relation to what is collective.
These are the grounds upon which the body in the processes of communication is significant, like sound it can embody the lost or peripheral knowledge of the past. Creating your own language in a post-colonial context, speaks not only to the individual nostalgia that characterises it, it also speaks to the measure of colonisation that still characterises the body.


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