No Fixed Abode

14 August – 1 November 2014
Curated by Candice Allison


IGSHAAN ADAMS | MALALA ANDRIALAVIDRAZANA | BERRY BICKLE | DINEO SESHEE BOPAPE | JACQUES COETZER | MESCHAC GABA | DAVID GOLDBLATT
HAROON GUNN-SALIE | DAN HALTER | MOSHEKWA LANGA | GERALD MACHONA | MARIO MACILAU | MISHECK MASAMVU | 
SERGE ALAIN NITEGEKA
MAURO PINTO | ATHI-PATRA RUGA| BARTHÉLÉMY TOGUO | 
SUE WILLIAMSON | JAMES WEBB

It is all very well to go travelling, but one of the inescapable consequences of letting go or getting lost is that you can never really go home as the same “someone” that you were before. During the history of Modernity, most people thought the loss of “home” was a tragedy: today, art suggests it may sometimes be one of life’s little necessities.
– Kobena Mercer*

This exhibition began as an exploration into the constant movement that characterises contemporary art; the physical movement of artists and objects travelling from one place to another, as well as the unceasing transference of ideas and information.

From the outset, the curatorial concept has been fluid, engaging with the diverse work of artists who themselves find definitions of ‘fixed’ or ‘home’ precarious and challenging, either as perpetual travellers, through unpredictable instability in their home countries, as immigrants or exiles, or as they grapple with the nuances of mixed heritage.

Just what do we mean when we talk about ‘home’? Is it the place where you were born, where you grew up, or where you live now? Is it the house of your childhood, or all the houses you’ve ever lived in? Where are you from? Where do you call home? The same questions seem to follow us whenever we meet someone new. Limiting us to just one place, one narrative – or does it?

The task set before us therefore, is not to reconcile the response into one unified answer, but to offer a space to present the fragments, the nuanced narratives of a story, crafted out of the thousand and one details of everyday life. When we travel somewhere new, our senses heightened, it is the details we observe when searching for the similarities, the points of reference that will anchor us to the present moment.

There are two threads which run through the story, crossing and binding together. On one hand, there is a sense of absence, a lack of something at the edge of many of the works included. They belie an ambiguity, an unease that seems to underlie the ideals of home.

On the other, a sense of adventure, of discovery and crossing boundaries; a letting go of the ties that bind us to a single place, or a single identity, followed by an acceptance that home is wherever we are.

For these adventurers and drifters, No Fixed Abode offers a home of sorts, a safe place, a place for critical reflection on some difficult ideas – about nationality, identity and home.

Curatorial text – Candice Allison

*Kobena Mercer, “Art and the Experience of African Cities,” in Pep Subiros et al., Africas: The Artist and the City, A Journey and an Exhibition, exh. cat. (Barcelona: Centre de Cultura Contemporania, 2001).

The New Church Museum acknowledges with deep gratitude the generosity of the individual artists, commercial galleries and the National Gallery of Zimbabwe who loaned work for this exhibition.

Malala Andrialavidrazana’s participation in the exhibition is made possible with kind support from the Institut Français South Africa.