Through their analogue dissonance, these images question our relationship to the natural world.
2019 - ongoing
A change of habits will not alter nature — Aesop
A three-dimensional boxset gives the illusion of a real room.
The actors pretend to be unaware of the audience, separated by an invisible ‘fourth wall’ that is defined by the proscenium arch and the stage floor, which serves as a frame through which the audience observes theatrical events from a more or less unified angle.
Actors usually ignore the audience, focusing exclusively on the dramatic world. They remain absorbed in its fiction, in a state that Konstantin Stanislavski called ‘public solitude’ — the ability to behave as one would in private, despite being watched, or to be 'alone in public.’ The audience’s acceptance of this transparent fourth wall requires a suspension of disbelief in order to enjoy the fiction as though observing real events.
The history of photography has also assumed a subtle and implicit fourth wall, in particular the idea that the viewer is able to glimpse into a previously unknown ‘reality,’ be it of a place or person, which is packaged for immediate consumption.
Alter Nature takes its name from the cautionary fable by Aesop, titled The Raven and The Swan, in which a raven, through its overwhelming desire to look like the swan, gives up its way of life and attempts to mimic the swan, leading to its eventual demise. The story feels appropriate for our times, in which the unprecedented onset of AI-generated imagery and the echo chambers of social media and deep fakes have left many in a state of ‘public solitude,’ caught in the theatre of cyberspace.
These works deliberately break the fourth wall of the image-making process. Through the use of damaged monochrome celluloid film, fault lines and light seep into the images and create a meta-theatrical curtain within the landscape.
Through their analogue dissonance, these images question our relationship to the natural world, while subverting the illusionary nature of photography and its role in the manufacture of ‘truth.’
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Portraits 2011 - 2018
Born in the small mining town of Witbank, South Africa on April 4, 1939, Hugh Ramapolo Masekela was “bewitched” by music at an early age and, at 17, received his second trumpet from Louis Armstrong.
Along with Kippie Moeketsi, Jonas Gwangwa and Abdullah Ibrahim (then Dollar Brand), Johnny Gertze and Makhaya Ntshoko, he was a member of South Africa’s firstall-African bebop band The Jazz Epistles – Jazz Epistle: Verse 1.
After leaving, South Africa Hugh Masekela began his schooling at the Manhattan School of Music in September of 1960. In 1968 he recorded the million-seller LP The Promise Of A Future, which featured the chart-topping mbaqanga tune “Grazing In The Grass”.
In 1973 Masekela embarked on an African cultural excursion which would produce such songs as “Ashiko”, “The Boy’s Doin It”, “In The Marketplace”, “Soweto Blues” and the anthemic ‘Stimela’.
In 1987 he recorded and released the Mandela-inspired anthem ‘Bring Him Back Home’, and participated as a featured artist, along with Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Miriam Makeba on the triumphant global Paul Simon Graceland Tour. Later that year, he would be musical director on the smash Broadway musical Sarafina!
In September of 1990 he returned to South Africa, after thirty long years, whereupon he embarked on the countrywide homecoming Sekunjalo tour. Masekela continued to perform locally, on the African continent, and throughout the global music circuit. Beloved the world-over from Stockholm to Senegal, Hugh Masekela passed on from this life on January 23, 2018.
‘One of the greatest things that could really happen to Africa is for us to get rid of the borders and for the leadership not to think that the countries belong to them... We didn't create the borders to start with.’ Hugh Masekela
AUTOPORTRAITS 2011 - 2020
Auto Portraits is a series that explores the mechanics of memory, its construction and the inherent obscurity that occurs via the deliberate obfuscation of Rubin's image making process, which considers our ability to register detail and form memory amidst the velocity of road travel. Walker Evans, in an essay titled 'The Reappearance of Photography (1931)' wrote: ‘The element of time entering into photography provides a departure for as much speculation as an observer cares to make. Actual experiments in time, actual experiments in space exactly suit a post-war state of mind. The camera doing both, as well as reflecting swift chance, disarray, and experiment.'
The notion of time entering into photography informs an embarkment into a broader study of South Africa's post-Apartheid landscape and the crucial role memory has played in shaping a Democratic society within a context of lingering structural imbalances.
Image titles are fragmented and fused with borrowed narrative in the hope of forging a context for these isolated moments of convergance.
Rubin's Auto Portraits are cognitive glimpses into such ephemeral encounters, and form a mapping of daily unintentional crossed-paths within the vastness of South Africa's scenic landscapes that often go unnoticed.
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