Cross-disciplinary artist Mbali Mduli’s first solo show opened at the Parking Gallery in VANSA’s building in Jeppestown. The show, entitled A City Reimagined, is made up of photographic works and collaborations, which tentatively explore ideas of nostalgia, memories and meaning-making her home city Johannesburg.
The images, which vary in size from little A5s up to large formats, all capture a a kind of liminal, in between state. Double and split exposures, colour blocks that become abstract, and long exposures blur city lights to become snapshots of dream sequences. These speak to memory’s subjective, and ultimately constructed nature, which is never quite fixed no matter how strong it seems.
The Parking Gallery was a fitting site for the show; also in a kind of permanent state of becoming, but not ever seeming to quite reaching it.
Part of the show was Robyn Nesbitt’s found-object installation, which occupies a single shelf, also explores the meaning-making aspect of memory. The objects were selected for their potential to become memories, sites to hold meaning. Over the course of the exhibition these items will be swopped out for others, further implying the arbitrary nature of memory. A detailed rationale accompanies the installation, explaining the above. This gives meaning to the installation, but also ironically undermines it, because it cuts the viewer out of the meaning-making game. But that is the nature of an experiment I guess: one observes the procedure; one does not interpret the outcome.