“For most of history, Anonymous was a woman,” famously wrote Virginia Woolf, who is revered not only as a literary master, but living fiercely as champion of gender equality.
Woolf’s words continue to pound away gender-related dogmas, penetrating the discourse wide-open to cultivate new understanding and inspire action. With International Women’s Day fast-approaching let’s pause to celebrate the ambassadors, men and women, fighting for gender equality – acknowledging, too, the many unable to join our fight; the ones fighting in silence, those we know as ‘The Anonymous’. More than simply acknowledge, though, we need to act.
Let me have the pleasure of introducing you to Cape Town-based artist-writer Sarah Jayne Fell – the brilliant mind behind the recently launched pop up art show ANON., which is all about giving a voice to the voiceless, a name to the unnamed. Held 21-25 February at a new Cape Town venue called Pop Up Place, created for week-long pop up projects of any kind, this new contemporary gallery is an idea curated, conceived and produced by Sarah Jayne Fell, and “celebrates creative expression and encourages it as a fundamental human right and need.”
Curated by Sarah Jayne Fell
February 21–25 2019
42 Trill Road, Observatory, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
For purchasing information and availability, please email founder and curator Sarah Jayne Fell at firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Sir Zanele Muholi, Lindeka Qampi, Nontsikelelo Veleko, Suzanne Duncan, Mareli Esterhuizen, Kilmany-Jo Liversage, Danielle Clough, Fabrica, Laura Wenman, Detroit Lee, Carol Hayward Fell, Kimon Bisogno, SaySay.Love, Marietta Kotzé, Greta Davis, Therese Mullins, René Yaffes, Christina Yaffes, Driekie van Wyk, Farah Hernandez, Kate Arthur, Jade Buccholtz, Jade Klara, Katya Wagner, Kate Soal, Ant de Klerk, Kylie Hepburn & Jacqui Cooks, Gino Bassi, Madeleine Bazil, Marelize Raubenheimer, Angus Begg (Humans of Cape Town) and Velt (Nicola Andrag). Live performances by Mamello Makhetha and Anonymous.
Sarah Jayne Fell, artist-writer and founder and curator of ANON.
She highlights the show’s openness saying, “ANON. is not restricted to one venue or format, it is designed as a pop-up gallery that lives both tangibly in physical space over a limited period of time, as well as virtually, online (Instagram @anonpopup), accessible for an indeterminate duration as a growing and limitless body of work.”
Receiving an incredible response, the 250-plus submissions came from artists worldwide (Cape Town to Paris), and the show’s flexible format allows the full might of artistic expression to resonate.
“[It] was a huge success drawing over 500 people and resulting in a total road closure! The response has been phenomenal and it seems like the concept behind ANON. is what really resonates with people. I’ve had great feedback on the curation and selection of works and artists, in particular the diversity seen in the space.
There are 35 artists from age 15 to 66, across mediums from painting, pencil drawing, ink, digital, sculpture and ceramics, to photography both art and photojournalism, all telling stories around women and female identity as well as transgender and non-binary. What’s important for me has been to create a holistic and multifaceted understanding and not just one vantage point or my own opinion as the curator. And so the works really speak for themselves.”
Marina Araki – ‘Samsara II’ from Samsara (I, II, III), 2018 | 480 x 580 mm series of three collages in reclaimed hardwood frames, R3 570 each
Included in the 35 featured artists are Nontsikelelo Veleko, the South African photographer currently living in France who’s well known for her representation of black identity; Marina Araki, Cape Town-based Italian-Japanese creative; Laura Wenman, Johannesburg-born fine artist showcasing her penchant for oil and portraiture; Kirsten Townsend, a talented local graphic designer who’s also the face and force behind design consultancy Fabrica Design; Jade Klara, veteran illustrator, designer and artist; and Marietta Kotzé, Cape Town artist whose interest lies in “ink wash processes and geomorphic systems”.
Lindeka Qampi’s self-portrait, entitled ‘Inyanda’, 2016 | 300 x 450mm, R16 000
Other highlights being work from Lindeka Qampi, self-taught photographer; Mareli Esterhuizen, a local photographer whose Swimmer Series is among my personal show highlights; and Suzanne Duncan, self-proclaimed “Artist, sculptor, writer, maker, knitter, walker, reader, collector, contemplator”. An important work for Fell is Duncan’s ‘How Big Is Your Fanny’ which, Duncan explains, “uses a method of casting dust (with a binding agent) into a mould of my hands in this position”.
Visual work aside, creative expression being felt, too, in live performances by Mamello Makhetha and Anonymous; see some of the action from the opening night video (watch here.)
The concept and the execution of ANON. – an inclusive coming-together of visionaries and storytellers – illustrates the significant role of art (of creativity, freedom and expression) in driving forward gender equality.
Artistic expression, Fell says, “is at once freeing and defining, personal and universal, therapeutic and communicative, internal and external, emotive and physical, connective and introspective, intellectual and instinctual, boundary–breaking and definitive, a push and a pull; extremely vulnerable and yet so liberating.
“It’s the complexity and tension in these dynamics that make it so simple and clear: it is imperative for each of us to express ourselves and to be given the space to do so,” she adds.
Nontsikelelo Veleko – ‘Amélie et Marie’, Le Port Reunion Island, 2013 | 694 x 520 mm, R8 000
Sarah brings the bigger picture into view, sharing how this exhibition’s focus is on “expressing female identity in all its complexity, creating dialogue around female artistic expression and raising questions around women’s representation in art.” Furthermore, it serves as an open invitation to a discussion about a broader range gender related topics.
“All opinions have their place,” comments Fell, explaining how “The work selected for the show all speak to some aspect of this, and in the diversity, variety and incredible openness and vulnerability in so many of the submissions, ANON. comes together as a body of work that is powerful and compelling.”
Regardless of your opinion, location or gender, ANON. welcomes you to join in the conversation – to find sanctuary for your voice and listen to others’. And amid the sparks of new conversation and ideas, Fell lays out part of the foundation to creating equality, inclusivity and diversity.
“Giving ourselves permission to be vulnerable allows us to connect with one another. And so I encourage all of you to make art, and to support art,” says Fell.
Looking ahead, Sarah’s plans are “to host future iterations of ANON. as the brand behind her pop-up gallery. Or rather, a non-brand and anti-gallery as rather it’s the artists who are the stars of the show and not the person behind the gallery as is so often the case with traditional self-named galleries.” Future ideas include “ANON. presents Four”, an exhibition of art and furniture design (or anything with four sides, legs, and so forth)…Stay posted for updates, folks!
For the moment, though, ANON.’s impact is far-reaching and its triumph built on inclusivity: “… It’s success is something you can assist in by sharing with your friends, inviting your networks and of course, buying art!” encourages Sarah.
FABRICA (Kirsten Townsend) – ‘Expose Cast’, 2018 | handmade, handprinted, cast in resin, editions of 10, R5 850 each
Marietta Kotzé – ‘Beautiful Motion’, 2018 | 720 mm x 1 m, mixed media of ink wash movement, digitally captured & printed on Hahnemüle Photo Rag paper, edition of three, signed, R4, 900
Mareli Esterhuizen – ‘Too Deep To Walk II’, Swimmer series, 2/20, 2018 | 235 x 305 mm (framed) inkjet print on archival ivory white, R1 850 each
Mareli Esterhuizen – ‘Stay Ashore or Escape’, Swimmer series
Below: Scroll down for close-ups and highlights taken on the opening night of ANON. Pop Up Art Show in Cape Town, South Africa | images courtesy of AfricanStoryBook