Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!
– J.R.R. Tolkien
Ladders of Aquatic Vertabrae was conceptualised for a group show at Blank Projects. The exhibition – titled The Menippean uprising – was curated by Pierre Fouché and Hentie van der Merwe and offered an alternative to the sosio-political work which still dominate South African galleries.
“This exhibition explores the idea of the imaginary, the unreal, the fantastical, in work by a number of contemporary South African artists. The focus is thus on artworks that are of an escapist nature; works that suggest a leaving behind of a definite socio-political context and, instead, intuitively venturing towards the irrational, the grotesque, the pleasurable.
Both curators are also practicing artists, and are currently interested in such ideas in their own work. Part of the aim of this exhibition is thus also, by means of a curated exhibition, to situate their own current interests as artists within a broader tendency in contemporary SA art: tentative, yet visible moves away from overt political statements to flights of the imagination and the increasing use of escapist forms and traditions to allegorise contemporary society.”
Participants included: Michael Taylor, Mendi Pantsi, Niklas Wittenberg, Pierre Fouché and Hentie van der Merwe.