Johnston & Njara reflects on consumerism and identity in contemporary society

Lizamore & Associates showcases two solo exhibitions in June 2018. 
In Reasons for Silence, Mandy Johnston uses visual noise as a metaphor for excesses that are obviously in our environments but that we fail to see and address. 
Lwandiso Njara’s Engineering the New Jerusalem II is a reflection of his own understanding of the renewal of identity. Njara is sponsored by PPC and Stuttaford van Lines. These exhibitions open on 31 May 2018 at 18:00.

Reasons for Silence by Mandy Johnston 

In Reasons for Silence, Mandy Johnston uses visual noise as a metaphor for excesses that are obviously in our environments but that we fail to see and address.

In recent times, the world has embraced the advantages of the heightened consumer society that is rapidly being fueled by digital media: resulting in the continuous sharing and exploitation of information and visuals. In this body of work, Johnston draws from her experience of being bombarded by information and visual litter. “I recently noticed that I even manage to fill the spaces between the noise with more images on my phone screen” says Johnston. Some contemporary philosophers and theorists see the overt consumption of images and information as an avoidance tactic that allows people to be constantly within the presence of others and therefore not to have to deal with their own mortality. The shifting value systems of our times are obvious. The act of exchange, the object no longer fetishised but replaced with the act of the purchase of presence. “But sometimes, something shakes me up, strikes a cord, shocks me where others see none. A stray dog on a salt cactus island, a tumbleweed stuck in a fence. I see the extended creation by humans, a living being so similar in dualistic nature to humans, reduced to invisible excess and an object that nostalgically keeps announcing its own absence. I am in awe at the simplistically and at the same time complexities of existence and the signs of an ecosystem that is struggling to find balance” the artist explains.

Reasons for Silence takes shape in sculpture, printmaking and drawing. Throughout this body of work, Johnston references the Odradek. The Odradek is a creature from the short story "The Cares of a Family Man" (1914 -1917) by Franz Kafka; which represents any useless, harmless object which is kept around for no obvious reason. Johnston’s interpretation of the Odradek takes on the form of tumbleweed. Tumbleweed is often associated with something that is discarded - endlessly tumbling around through the landscape - whilst simultaneously resembling the silence connected to a desert landscape. The artist also depicts stray dogs in Reasons for Silence. Like the Odradek, they become a poignant symbol of consumer excess and the that which is passed down through generations. Presences and absences remain a strong theme and materials continue to carry weight in this body of work. Johnston meticulously uses ‘white noise’ as a metaphor for things that are obviously in our environments but that we fail to 'see' because of the excesses we as a consumer society fail to address.


Odradek (lying dog).jpg
odradek( running ) dry point.jpg

Engineering the New Jerusalem II  by Lwandiso njara

Growing-up in a traditional Xhosa household, Lwandiso Njara’s Catholic schooling by nuns from India and Switzerland exposed him to different ideologies and technologies. In Engineering the New Jerusalem II, Njara depicts his understanding of a changing identity – as influenced by his upbringing and education. This body of work takes form in pen, graphite & charcoal drawings and sculptures in PPC cement, resin, animal bone and steel. The artist portrays a cross-pollinated sense of identity which emerges from the physical hybridity of his sculptures and drawings. “I believe that my work resembles or explores the new contemporary robotic or technological African urban identity” says the artist. He often blatantly merges polarities in one body through using the lamb, the goat and the cow fused with mechanical gears and engines, all acting as signifiers for the artist’s own hybrid sense of identity.


A special thanks to PPC and Stuttaford van Lines for sponsoring Lwandiso Njara