Penny Siopis (South Africa)
Michaela Limberis (South Africa), The African Arts Trust Assistant Curator of the Moving Image, Centre for the Moving Image, Zeitz MOCAA
Precious Mhone (Malawi), Torben Wind Assistant Curator of the Centre for the Moving Image, Zeitz MOCAA
This exhibition brings together works made over a twenty-year period by South African artist Penny Siopis. While Siopis is best known for her painting, the focus of this exhibition is on the medium of film as an essential part of her practice.
The Centre for the Moving Image is a unique space in the museum created to present a number of moving image works concurrently. This exhibition chronologically maps Siopis’ film works, allowing us to experience the continuation of her production over time, in a single space.
In addition to her growing archive of 8mm and 16mm found footage, the artist draws from official documents, newspaper clippings and personalized accounts of history, to project a multiplicity of voices through combined fragments of text, image and music. The concrete silos of the Centre for the Moving Image may be likened to the mind, alluding to its cognitive faculties in the making of memories and the assembling of time.
In each intimate chamber is projected the first-person narrative of an individual caught up in larger social and political forces. Each story has an elemental quality that speaks beyond its origins. The story is told through a voice present in the text. A Greek migrant; a disembodied Irish nun; a man not at home in his own mind; the ever-changing strains of a piece of music, the melody in Welcome Visitors! The individuals’ stories become connected through a shared sense of real and imagined displacement in Southern Africa, echoed here in this physical space.
The text in the films becomes ‘the voice in the head’. Created by the artist, re-created by the spectator in every instance of reading, looking and listening.