Blackness Blooms

Robin Rhode2013

South Africa - Biennale Arte 2015

South Africa - Biennale Arte 2015

Robin Rhode, Blackness Blooms, 2012/13
Each 41.6 x 61.6 x 3.8 cm
Courtesy Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg, and Lehmann Maupin,
New York

Rhode’s work, which incorporates film, photography,
drawing and performance, frequently incorporates
a gritty urban wall or sidewalk upon which the artist
unfolds a story or image. The finished work is a
dynamic representation—a human flipbook—of his
bodily encounters with urban space, his street-level
meditations on the world.
Blackness Blooms takes its title from a
poem by the South African poet Don Mattera, a
founding member of the Black Consciousness
Movement and a member of the ANC Youth League.
Mattera’s political activism led to a banning order,
imprisonment and torture under the apartheid
regime. Rhode was struck by Mattera’s imagery of
incarceration: of darkness liquefied, of blackness
as a terrible wound inflicted by others. As so often
in his work, Rhode explores the many possibilities
that an image presents to him, opening it out first
as a series of lines or loops that extend from his
own body, and then into a rapid-fire succession of
figures in movement. Here, he takes Mattera’s dark
imagery and, using a giant Afro comb, explodes it
into a blossoming hairdo, a gorgeous celebration
of blackness.

Robin Rhode was born in 1976 in Cape Town, and lives in Berlin.
He completed postgraduate studies at the South African School
of Film, Television and Dramatic Arts, Johannesburg, in 2000.
Rhode’s dynamic, often playful, picaresque narratives, executed
with everyday materials such as soap, charcoal, chalk and paint,
are brought to life through stop-motion animation. In addition to
the street art and performance aspects of his work, there is always
a formalist foundation inspired by his interest in abstraction in
general and Russian constructivism in particular.
Rhode has had solo exhibitions at Kunstmuseum Luzern
(2014); National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2014); Tucci
Russo Studio Per L’Arte Contemporanea, Turin, Italy; the Los
County Museum of Art (2010); the Wexner Center for
the Arts, Columbus (2009); the Hayward Gallery, London (2008);
and Haus der Kunst, Munich (2007); Rose Art Museum, Brandeis
University, Waltham, MA (2004); and Iziko South African National
Gallery, Cape Town. He has been included in the Sydney Biennale
(2012); Staging Action: Performance in Photography Since 1960,
Museum of Modern Art, New York (2011); The Dissolve, Site Santa
Biennale (2010); Prospect.1 New Orleans, 1st New Orleans
Biennale (2008); New Photography, Museum of Modern Art,
New York (2005); the Venice Biennale (2005); and How Latitudes
Become Forms at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and other
venues (2003–5). In 2014 he won the Roy R Neuberger Exhibition
Prize, which led to an early-career survey and catalogue. Robin
: Animating the Everyday, a ten-year survey of his work, was
on view at the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State
University of New York, in 2014.

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  • Title: Blackness Blooms
  • Creator: Robin Rhode
  • Date Created: 2013


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