August 29, 2018 - POOL - Uriel Orlow: Theatrum Botanicum / Uriel Orlow: Grey, Green, Gold / Uriel Orlow: Imbizo Ka Mafavuke & Other Plant Stories
August 29, 2018

POOL

Uriel Orlow, Green, Grey, Gold, 2015-7, (detail). The Fairest Heritage (still), 2016-7. Single channel video. Geraniums Are Never Red, 2016-8, (detail). Muthi, 2017. Print on pvc banner

Uriel Orlow
Theatrum Botanicum
POOL, 23 Voorhout St, Ellis House, Johannesburg
September 4–November 3, 2018

Uriel Orlow
Grey, Green, Gold
Market Photo Workshop, 57 Margaret Mcingana St, Johannesburg
September 7–October 21, 2018

Uriel Orlow
Imbizo Ka Mafavuke & Other Plant Stories
Durban Art Gallery, Durban City Hall, Smith St, Durban
September 14–October 28, 2018

Opening: Theatrum Botanicum: September 4, 7–9pm
Opening: Grey, Green, Gold: September 7, 6–8pm, including book launch & panel discussion
Opening: Imbizo Ka Mafavuke & Other Plant Stories: September 14, 6–8pm

www.pool.org.za
www.marketphotoworkshop.co.za
www.ica.uct.ac.za
Facebook / Instagram

In September 2018 Uriel Orlow’s Theatrum Botanicum project will be realised across several venues in three cities in South Africa. Using the media of film, photography, installation and sound, and working from the dual vantage points of South Africa and Europe, the project considers plants as both witnesses and actors in history, and as dynamic agents—connecting nature and humans, rural and cosmopolitan medicine, tradition and modernity—across different geographies, histories and systems of knowledge, with a variety of curative, spiritual and economic powers. The works variously explore botanical nationalism and other legacies of colonialism, plant migration and invasion, biopiracy, flower diplomacy during apartheid, the garden planted by Nelson Mandela and his fellow inmates on Robben Island prison, as well as the role of classification and naming of plants. Khadija von Zinnenburg Carrol describes how the project looks to the botanical world as a stage on which these histories interact as agents:

"Theatrum Botanicum is not Botanicum, it is the theater in which a ghost of botany enters. The species is theater, its genus is botany. The title Theatrum Botanicum is a binomial like the Linnaean Latinate variety central to Uriel Orlow’s critique. Theatrum Botanicum is not botany as theater either, but a theater in which botany is among a cast of colonial protagonists, the powerful influence of which Orlow portrays.”

The project developed out of a research residency undertaken in 2014 and evolved through successive trips between 2015 and 2017 in which Orlow undertook extensive research in archives, and collaborated with traditional medicine practitioners as well as those with legal and botanical expertise, traversing Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.

The project has evloved over several exhibitions including: The Showroom, London (2016); EVA International (2016) curated by Koyo Kouoh; the 2017 Sharjah Biennal 13 (where it won a major award); and Kunsthalle St Gallen, Switzerland (2018). The South African iteration sees the project return to its geography of origin, giving local audiences and practitioners - some of whom helped shape the project - an opportunity to critically and generatively respond to the body of work.

The project will be hosted between POOL and the Market Photo Workshop, in Johannesburg, the Institute for the Creative Arts (ICA) in Cape Town and the Durban Art Gallery.

Public programme

Screening: Mafavuke TrilogySeptember 11, 6–6:45pm 
ICA, University of Cape Town, Hiddingh Hall Campus, 31-37 Orange St, Cape Town (Booking required)

Lecture performance: Grey, Green, Gold (and Red): September 12, 6–6:45pm 
IZIKO South African Museum, 25 Queen Victoria St, Cape Town (Booking required)

Walkabout with artist and curator: September 15, 10am–2pm 
Durban Art Gallery, Durban City Hall, Smith St, Durban

Commissioned programme: POOL has commissioned artists to develop programming that delves into indigenous plant histories including: Antonia Brown; Rangoato Hlasane; Zayaan Khan; and MADEYOULOOK. Details to be announced.

POOL is a not for profit arts organisation committed to supporting the development of artists and curators through collaboration, commissioning and production of new work. POOL champions emerging practice as well as experimental artist and curator-led work and research initiatives. Market Photo Workshop is a school of photography, a gallery, and a project space, and has played a pivotal role in the training of South Africa’s photographers. Since it was founded in 1989 by photographer David Goldblatt the Photo Workshop has been an agent of change and representation. Institute for the Creative Arts (ICA) facilitates collaborative research projects in the creative and performing arts. The institute hosts the Live Art Festival, a leading platform for the development and showcasing of performance art and experimental work on the continent. Durban Art Gallery is one of South Africa's major public art collections showcasing contemporary and historic art practice from the continent.

This project forms part of a special programme of Pro Helvetia Johannesburg, the Southern African liaison office of the Swiss Arts Council, celebrating twenty years of collaboration and exchange with the region. For more information go here.

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