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Indepth Arts News:

"The Trials of Dr. Kawalski: Work by William Scarbrough"
2001-12-08 until 2001-12-22
Premises Gallery at Johannesburg Civic Theatre
Johannesburg, , ZA South Africa

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 exchange.

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 Kathryn Smith.

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 others.

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.

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