Deconstructing the domestic

TORRENTIAL TEA TIME: Artist Ilene Bothma, left, and one of the untitled works in her Weird Marriage exhibition which is on display at the Underculture Contemporary Art Gallery
TORRENTIAL TEA TIME: Artist Ilene Bothma, left, and one of the untitled works in her Weird Marriage exhibition which is on display at the Underculture Contemporary Art Gallery

A NELSON Mandela Bay-born artist, who has had her most recent solo exhibition on show at the Underculture Contemporary Fine Arts Gallery in Park Drive since last month, said she hoped her work has inspired people to interrogate their own experience of the domestic space.

Ilene Bothma, 33, who now lives in Cape Town where she practises her craft and lectures at the Vega School of Brand Leadership, invited more art enthusiasts to view her Weird Marriage exhibition.

“I want people to think not only about the mundane aspects of the domestic space, but also to realise that there is unexpected beauty and poetry within this space.”

She said her ultimate aim was “to lead the viewer into an intimate mental and physical space and to explore the inexpressible poetics of the visual”.

“The Weird Marriage ensemble features everyday objects and furniture which are arranged in such a way as to make the familiar strange and to express my ambivalence towards domestic life and this domestic discomfort,” Bothma said.

“My exploration of this space takes form through the pairing and transforming of found objects, household furniture and domestic materials which are sometimes combined with more visceral materials associated with the body.

“Repetitive, laborious acts which mimic the tedium of domestic chores, placement, interference, accidents, destruction and re-assembling all play an important role in the material exploration of my understanding of relationships within the domestic sphere. It is an ongoing inquiry that I refer to as my weird marriage.

“In attempting to define my artistic practice, my linguistic ability often seems to falter, I explore the comfortable and the awkward, controlled and uncontrolled, familiar and the strange; exteriority and interiority.

“It is at the meeting point of these dualities where these pairings slip and merge that I situate my work.

“It is in this space that ambiguity opens up, where hesitation, confusion, misunderstandings and mistakes materialises.

“Through the process of trying to make the uncanny, I endeavour to lead myself, and the viewer, towards a strange understanding of this space,” the Northumbria and Stellenbosch universities fine art graduate said.

She said she came up with the idea of Weird Marriage while she was studying in the UK.

“I had been married for just more than a year and started questioning my experience of being married and how this relates to the domestic space. I found that the banal nature of the everyday domestic experience generally did not live up to the fairytale idea of marriage that we are sold as children.

“To put it quite plainly, I thought at the time that the experience of being married is really quite weird.”

Bothma started exhibiting as a student and her work has regularly featured in group exhibitions since 2000.

She was also nominated as a finalist in the Sasol New Signatures competition and the Vuleka Art competition last year.

Art gallery manager Alison Shaw said: “The exhibition has intrigued andchallenged locals. It is comprised of installation, video art as well as mixed-media sculpture which are relatively unfamiliar art mediums.

“Despite the unfamiliar mediums coupled with the discomfort, viewers seem to relate to the subject matter of Weird Marriage and find the exhibition thought-provoking. This proves that the Port Elizabeth public is capable of engaging with less comfortable, intellectually stimulating artworks.”

Bothma further encouraged up-and-coming artists to “work hard and then work harder”.

Weird Marriage will be on display until Friday next week. – Balisa Ntloko

One thought on “Deconstructing the domestic

  • May 11, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    I did n’t know that I was such an artist! I placed sume cups and saucers on an old table and hey presto I had a similar WORK OF ART as in the photo! Really what a load of old cobblers!


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