VISITOR, visits and collaborations (3-24 October 2009)

The now UCT Irma Stern Museum was formerly the house of artist Irma Stern. In this space she lived, created, and entertained. Visitor by Liza Grobler, responded to her home in a ‘solo’ exhibition with a difference: it acknowledged human interaction as a core ingredient of artistic output. Apart from the random and invited viewers who visited to see Grobler’s work, a number of collaborations were initiated in an attempt to bring the former living space back to life…

The Saturday morning opening celebrated Stern’s birthday (2 October) with cake, gin and cucumber sandwiches. This was offset by the “As long as you try”-chant, which came from an oversized knitted wall piece in which Monika Voysey, a renowned mezzo soprano, was stuck. It pretty much set the tone for the following days. On Monday 5 October, the museum was ostensibly closed, but a group of 9 invited artists, partook in a life drawing session in the library. The event brought together a selection of artists whom Grobler specifically respects for their varied approaches to representing the human figure. Participants were: Johann Louw, Clare Menck, John Murray, Nomthunzi Mashalaba, Wonder Marthinus, Norman O’Flynn, Conrad Botes, Marna Hattingh & Marlise Keith. The event was twofold: it honored Stern’s lifelong interest in the human figure as subject and the active participants became subjects in there own right (they were documented digitally).

On Wednesday the one-day residency programme commenced: What a difference a day makes… Participants had the opportunity to occupy the central space within Grobler’s exhibition from 10-5 daily. How each person used the space, was up to them. Lynette Bester arrived straight from an overseas residency and communicated only by writing on pos-its. Lien Botha brought and African Grey parrot and stepped out a dado grey scale whilst Barend de Wet and Adrienne van Eeden Wharton co-knitted a long rainbow coloured scarf. Francesca Sanchez posted paper waterfalls from Chili with installation instructions. The organic process allowed for experimentation, contemplation or just coffee drinking sessions with whoever visited the show. Other participants include Katherine Bull, Jaqceus Coetzer, Michael Taylor, Johan Thom, Seth Harper, Ruben Gutierrez, Abrie de Swardt, Sonja Rademeyer and Niklas Zimmer. Visit the blog at www.dayresidencies.blogspot.com .

The Gift – a lace making performance by Grobler and Pierre Fouché was an appropriate closing event that coincided with a picnic in Stern’s garden… Life has a knack for weaving random events into a delicate web of human networks.