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Indepth Arts News:

"James Beckett: An Untitled Exhibition of Cut-up"
2006-04-25 until 2006-05-14
KZNSA - KwaZulu Natal Society of Arts
Durban, , ZA South Africa

The KwaZulu Natal Society of Arts proudly presents James Beckett: An Untitled Exhibition of Cut-up which opened on 25 April 2006 and runs through 14 May 2006. The exhibition will be held in the multi-media room. Beckett studied at the Natal Technikon in Durban from 1995 to 1999. Having won the Emma Smith prize James left for Berlin where he spent a year. He was accepted to the Rijksakademie Van Beeldende Kunsten, and moved to Amsterdam to partake in the residency, after which he won the prestigious Prix de Rome for Art and Public Space.

After initially working with installation, sound has increasingly taken a more central role in his work. This has been a research-based activity with output ranging from radio documentaries to mock ethnic bands, as well as museum displays documenting the cultural and physiological effects of noise. The evolution in specific areas of the industrial revolution have also played muse; the foundation of synthetic colour manufacture and its relationship to BASF, and the cultural implications of vacuum tubes for the Dutch firm Philips.

This present exhibition is a return to physical installation and informed more by the techniques of music-making and text hence the use of cut-up. (As a technique developed by Burroughs and the like, cut-up is a form of text mangling resulting in new meanings beyond the authors intent and control). As with conventional cut-up one would butcher a series of texts and combine them at random to form new sentences, phrases and constellations. In this instance, rather than the cut being restricted within a single source, it is rather applied between and across different sources. In this sense the cut-up is not applied on a micro level, resulting in a simple shuffle with a blunt result.

This scenario can best be described as a museum of concealed twigs for the blind.

The objects and devices used to conceal the twigs are not tied to an obvious use although they are reminiscent of the 1970s spy culture, a by-product of the Cold War. The descriptions notated in Braille are European weather reports; undecipherable chunks of supposed text, lending significance to the accompanying objects more in respect to their quantity than actual comprehension.

Part museum, part information booth for the potential uncovering of concealed items, the museum appears to function as actual repository, its signage and finishings adding authenticity to its subject. With time the museum reveals its true subject; namely itself. This in turn can be seen as a reflection on the nature of representation and malleability within the mechanics of reason.

This is the first venue of a travelling exhibition put together in Durban. The show is later to travel to Cape Town then Russia (St. Petersburg), Estonia (Tallinn) and hopefully Finland (Helsinki), to finish in the Netherlands (Amsterdam).

For earlier work or news, contact or visit: www.jamesbeckett.tk


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