Speeches From A White Cube – Thenjiwe Nkosi

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THENJIWE
I cannot ask you to suspend these walls
and forget their context
those sidewalks live with you in some way

even with closed eyes
hands grasping the ledge of this doorway
to pull you into this implicitly still space
breath is held here
and you can feel it
even without eyes
it is felt
breath is closed here
so that art can exist as more than a whisper
as greater and higher than that sidewalk
but that sidewalk knows the grip of many feet

so art cannot ask you to suspend these walls
even as it tries so desperately
to float into more lives than it has felt
to float beyond its lonely breathless space

it feels that sometimes a stage is necessary
that politics wants to exist through it
to be bare
a plea for some kind of voice
it is conflicted by too many intentions
a world that dissolves its ink

and so
while I translate myself
into these rough edges
an aesthetic that speaks through its form
my voice is not always clear
or even wondering
and this translation
not always felt

in moments where presence
masters the contradiction of a gathered politics
silken, whispered and folded into fragile, loud wings of thought
in this power of presence
I hope that art could commune

chairs would be centred
for comfort in conversation
and walls would barely be traced out
oscillating into invisibility
our bodies lengthen
almost to the floor
our disagreements furious
our laughter echoes
our stories stretch out

to imagine into a space
is the most
powerful thing
about
art

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Speeches From A White Cube – Laura

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LAURA
his hand like a hook pulling on all our strings
a dance that comes natural
when we lean in for the unexpected history
an anecdote that will alter our own edges
with its wise placement
through visual accountancy

his hand is only grace
ready to trace the line
through any forgone fall

this is something I could live for
to be wrapped close
like a blanket warmed by the fire
the artist’s presence pays homage to these walls
dripped in this conversation
the people they speak through
the material they possess
is a dance
with orchestral effort
we translate our words into speech
so that this conversation may last

in art
words will alter every rendition to pass
its malleable perimeter remembers each resonance
through voices that ripple in cold air

these speeches will dip their language through the streets
and once an ear is reached
like a summer lake floats its vessel
it will be held forever

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Speeches From A White Cube – sidewalk installation

Installation site – Juta street between galleries – Kalashnikovv, Room and Stevenson.
BRAAMFONTEIN, JOHANNESBURG

installation-speeches-1installation-speeches-3installation-speeches-2ANA PATHER SOUND EXCERPTS
Total length of work: 52 mins 37 secs

MATERIALS

PLINTH
printer paper, printed manuscripts

MANUSCRIPT
printed poems inspired by each interviewee:
Raimi Gbadamosi
Shayna Goncalves
Marion Dixon
Usha Seejarim
Jessica Webster
Ana Pather
Laura DeBecker
Jeremy Wafer
Thato Mogotsi
Thenjiwe Nkosi

SOUND-SCAPES
‘narrative’ sound works built around some of the research interviews
Raimi Gbadamosi          26 mins 40 secs
Usha Seejarim                54 mins 19 secs
Jessica Webster             54 mins 52 secs
Ana Pather                      52 mins 37 secs
Laura DeBecker             23 mins 26 secs
Jeremy Wafer                 54 mins 52 secs
Thenjiwe Nkosi              1 hour 5 mins 46 secs

LISTENING FUNNEL
Cardboard
Paper mache
Spray paint

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Speeches From A White Cube – Thato

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THATO

Give me these white walls to consider
to sit
a milky wash that barely registers its texture
but then speak
because it is your process that matters most
the chalk that sticks between fingernail and thumb
this is what I revel in
the good nature of your material
allowing me to see something beyond its technique
some white walls will isolate each fragment of this story to promote its capital gain
so that every descriptive sliver should meander with an imagined mass
money will tell you your other story
and so it is
the power of speech can nullify this capital story
and I will be motivated by the magic of those hands
in concert with your conceptual narrative
one that is slow and measured
unveiling itself
like a cocoon peeling out and away
its feathered layers in a circular trance
reminds me over and over again
of the diversity that is process
process pushes these walls out of focus
and allows me to walk around you in figure eights
around and through art
each shift in these feet
draws another line into this concrete floor
and all visitors of your work draw lines around each other
we hold in suspension
the administrative desk that counts the costs

levels out a budget
and measures for your gain
for a moment
we hold in suspension
your worth
we hold in suspension
the desk
solid in its frame and known
for its counting and care for these holy walls
and then we sink back into life
with a roughly laid imprint
of art made from your dust patterned hands
light in air
and staged through the dance of your speech

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Speeches From A White Cube – Marion

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MARION
I would ask you to pry open this space
and talk of everything
all moments of life can speak through this magic
I will read the words of the artist
like tripped up thread
scarred through the length of its tracking
torn by its needle along its way to expression
this too is beauty
and the lilting and meandering words of children
make art into the most unexpected of meanings
I like to walk into the home of the artist
where wine wanders into a glass without asking
with one hand on the artists arm I walk close enough to touch his work
the work that he says has made him vulnerable
foam corners fill an adjacent room
ready to hug
what has been claimed as glory
flown far
to fall onto the walls of another white cube
where I imagine new feet crossing over each other
faces come close enough for touching
on the gray floor I can almost hear heels tap
and the echo that measures out this space
like water filling out its wave
art must be placed by a system
all seems sewn under and hidden
one history falls open
to reach into the next
I pull the children through the gallery
when they learn from beauty
none of us can stop staring

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Conversation From A White Cube – Thembi

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Speeches From A White Cube – Usha

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USHA
I have counted the days through each action
I have carved out a shape
that will tell me of my pattern
and in another light its edges appear as steps printed in sand
declaring an expanse of water
I still look in wonder for my fall
this is my obsession

the grace of everyday gesture
must be marked by the glory of a hanging broom
or the will of two irons to rest into art
to flatten down seems

sometimes I am spiritually bereft
but most often I am found
you, my audience have complicated this story
have made it a bigger mountain to climb
with snow shaped from life’s evidence
and an academic tongue
the critics said you couldn’t learn this
“art”
they said you wouldn’t know “art”
because your age and position is beyond it education
I know better
I will navigate the grass worn path
that all minds can step into
I will find you there
and you will teach me what I didn’t know before
you will smooth down my doubt
and show me why art is worth this

in open air I will make my next sculpture
it will be a domestic story
not so constitutional
but epic in its proportion and value
ink will stain its contours
polish will allow it to gleen
and soap will keep it clean

another monument to return to
I will have to visit it often
come back to this obsession
like a moth in prayer
to declare it resonant
if dust builds up a wall
your fingers will walk through it
rubbing to its bone
to find a reflection

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