Necklace. For some, an innocuous ornamental adornment comes to mind. For too many South Africans, on the other hand, the term is a tragic reminder of a brutal method of execution that haunts both the country’s political past and the mob justice of its present.
Athlone-based emerging artist, Kenan Petersen, has drawn on his experience of growing up as a black South African youth in the wake of dire political struggle in order to create a provocative piece that interrogates the layered meanings in the word ‘Necklace’.
Petersen explains: “The piece is to be worn in remembrance of those who passed in an act of defiance.” Petersen wants his ‘Necklace’ to be seen not as an icon of despair, but rather as a token of appreciation. “The Necklace symbolizes the rejection of racism in a time where students are being shot in the streets for asking for an education,” he adds.
Petersen’s ‘Necklace’ is made entirely of concrete and hessian and is an expertly crafted scale replica of a tyre, made to resemble those typically used in lynchings. Contrary to what you might expect, the piece is not intended to be put on display, but rather to be worn.
It is one of this year’s standout entries in the PPC Imaginarium Awards, and has been selected as a finalist, with a chance to win the overall prize. The PPC Imaginarium Awards is the country’s most supportive art and design prize, with R500 000 in prizes, mentorship and exposure opportunities up for grabs.
Petersen’s thought-provoking entry responds to the PPC Imaginarium Awards’ brief to create an artwork that demonstrates an understanding of concrete as an artistic medium. His is but one of many innovative and intriguing creations by a number of emerging creatives that will be on display as part of the PPC Imaginarium Awards’ finalists’ display at the upcoming Art Africa Fair, which runs from 24 February to 5 March 2017 at the V & A Waterfront in Cape Town.
Thereafter, the “Necklace” will travel to an exhibition that opens on 18 May at the UJ Gallery in Johannesburg, and will also be showcased at the Turbine Art Fair in Joburg, the AVA Gallery in Cape Town, and 100% Design South Africa in Joburg later in 2017.