An exploration into the mechanics of memory and how we process the anonimity of the open road.
HUGH 2012 — 2018
A seven year chronicle of portraits from over the icon’s final years and his central notion of No Borders.
LABYRINTHS OF PROGRESS
2019 — ongoing
Exploring the archetypal form of the labyrinth and its significance to the march of progress.
THE BIER 2009 — ongoing
An ongoing collaboration since 2009 with Cameron Foden on the haunting spectre of empire.
AUTO PORTRAITS 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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Portraits 2012 - 2018
‘I've always stood on one fact - that all over the world, there are only two things, the Establishment and the poor people. The poor people are a massive majority and across the world they are exploited in different kinds of ways. The Establishment depends on exploiting raw materials and the poor.’
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 (thenDollar 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.’
‘I lived for music since I could think.’
LABYRINTHS OF PROGRESS
2019 - ongoing
LABYRINTHS OF PROGRESS
An exploration into the idiosyncratic nature of formed identity and wayfinding.
We construct our sense of self through a series of imaginings of the future, via a subliminal nostalgic pastiche of past and present; these processes of the mind help to shape a construct of identity that is forged within an algorithmic sense of outer reality.
The archetype of the labyrinth becomes a symbol of this journey to our centre and back out again into the world.
One of the earliest and most renowned labyrinths was built to house the Minotaur on the Greek Island of Crete. The mythology of Theseus and his journey from Athens to slay the Minotaur. This early iteration of the labyrinth myth as a disorientating space safe-guarded by a monster has also been read as symbolic of the creative process. In J.E. Cirlot’s Dictionary of Symbols, the journey to the center of the labyrinth is closely tied to ‘the loss of the spirit in the process of creation—that is, the ‘fall’ in the neoplatonic sense—and the consequent need to seek out the way through the ‘Centre’, back to the spirit’.
Therefore the Minotaur assumes an important guardian role within our inner labyrinths; a part of ourselves that needs to be conquered in order to create.
Roland Barthes in Mythologies (1957) writes: ‘However paradoxical it might seem, myth hides nothing: its function is to distort not to make disappear’.
Myths like memory are therefore intrinsically vulnerable to distortion over the passing of time. We rely on memories to help us predict something we haven’t done before, drawing from the familiarity of the recollected, while utilizing many of the same brain functions to foresee a future event as we do when we remember one.
These cerebral mechanics help us to place ourselves, and forecast our futures, within a broader societal context increasingly fueled on notions of the march of progress, material gain and expansion.
‘The transformation of self that occurs in the middle of the maze and which will be manifested in broad daylight at the end of the return journey, through darkness to light, will mark the victory of the spiritual over the materialistic and, at the same time, that of the eternal over the ephemeral, of reason over instinct, and of knowledge over blind violence’.
― The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols
“There is a labyrinth which is a straight line.”
― Jorge Luis Borges