New York-based artist William Scarbrough is mounting an exhibition at The
Premises at the Johannesburg Civic Theatre.
The Trials of Dr. Kawalski is an installation by New York-based artist
William Scarbrough, designed to challenge the media's power to establish
historical fact by breaking down its truths, or documents, into its
components: words and images.It serves as a vehicle through which one may
consider the role of media in constructing our perceptions.
The primary components of the exhibition are an interactive large-screen
multimedia projection, audio stations and a series of digital prints.
Combined, they offer visitors the means to participate in an interactive
environment about the events, people and places that surround the life of
the mysterious Dr. Jason Kawalski. His life story takes us from the tragic
childhood death of his twin sister in Itau, Bolivia, to his career as a
leading medical researcher, to his controversial conviction in the murder of
a young girl in Burlington, Vermont. Scarbrough's artistic hybrid
presentation of Kawalski's story is emotionally engaging and intellectually
inviting. The interactive display is presented by Dr Regina Garcia, a
historian who has been researching the life of Dr Kawalski.
The Trials of Dr Kawalski offers a perceptive commentary on the current
focus on global terrorist activities, the media's complicity in the
production of historical monsters and our desire to treat such figures and
events as sensational info-tainment.
This exhibition is particularly important for The Premises as Scarbrough is
opening the identical show on December 7 at Momenta Art in New York City.
This event will be videotaped and downloaded onto Momenta's website, where
we will be able to view it at the Johannesburg opening a few hours later.
The Premises and Momenta will be linked for the duration of the exhibition
via our respective websites, as well an exchange of printed matter
(catalogues, pamphlets etc) between spaces. Momenta is a highly respected,
independent artist-run space in New York and as such, occupies a similar
intellectual space as The Premises. The connection is a valuable one in
terms of the visible and tangible transference of information and artistic
William Scarbrough's works Suicide: Scarbrough Industries and Prosthetic
have featured on exhibitions/performance programmes accompanying the South
African Qualitative Methods conferences (Wits University), curated by
His work has received coverage from Harper's, Penthouse, Details, Cover, New
York Magazine, The New York Times, Artbyte, Artthrob, Anthony Haden-Guest's
True Colors: The Real Life of The Art World, The New Art Examiner, among
In addition to seminars conducted at various institutions in the US,
including one at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Scarbrough has
been a guest on the Jerry Springer show.