If you are traveling to Cape Town do check out my Labels curtain on view at the Slave Lodge until July 31, 2013. The artwork chronologically documents 110 years of South African music and audio history through images of record labels from the flatinternational archive.
Many thanks to Paul Tichmann (Curator of Social History at Iziko Museums), Lalou Meltzer (Director of Social History Collections at Iziko), Glen Fouten, Kenni Molopyane, Kendall Buster, Tony East, Claire van Blerk and Goodman Gallery for making the project possible.
Below is more information about the project:
12 January – 31 July, 2013
The Slave Lodge, part of the Iziko Museums of South Africa, presents Siemon Allen’s Labels, a large-scale architectural installation. Displayed in the museum’s Music Room, the work features 5000 photographs of record labels inserted into a suspended clear plastic curtain. The installation has been configured to converse with part of the museum’s collection of historical artifacts, in this case two vintage grand pianos, two clocks and an antique gramophone.
Completed in 1679, the Slave Lodge is one of the oldest buildings in South Africa. Originally constructed to house the slaves of the Dutch East India Company (VOC), the building and its function have gone through many transformations over the centuries to its current form as a museum of social and cultural history. The museum presents exhibitions that trace the long history of slavery in South Africa, as well as wide range of displays showcasing rare cultural artifacts.
For the past twelve years Allen has been exploring the image of South Africa through a series of collection projects. His studio practice has evolved out of an interest in how mass-produced items—newspapers, stamps, magazines, records—function as carriers of information and operate in the construction of national identity.
Records, Allen’s most recent collection project, is rooted in his extensive archive of South African audio consisting of over 2500 items including 650 rare shellac discs. The project has generated a series of varied works sourced from this ongoing audio collection including a number of site responsive installation works, a series of large-scale digital prints, and a searchable web-based database that can be viewed at www.flatinternational.org.
Labels is a site-responsive installation that meanders through the space amongst the musical instruments and clocks, to form a number of intimate accessible enclosures. With this piece Allen revisits a theme that has been dominant in his work for many years: the idea of a “space within a space”. The exterior surface of the curtain wall reads as a clean, almost minimalist abstract grid, while the interior becomes a colorful complex pattern of disc shapes with text and markings. Up close one is able to digest the details on each individual label. From afar the textual information begins to go out of focus and recede, only to be replaced by a tapestry-like colour-field pattern
|Kendall Buster, Kenni Molopyane and Glen Fouten all helped install the work|
|Siemon Allen and Paul Tichmann, Curator of Social History at Iziko Museums|