Cross-Currents, showing at David Krut Projects Cape Town from 31 July – 25 August 2012, presents a selection of works that draw on ideas of the sea, literally – as in, how do we relate to the sea and how have we related to it over time – and metaphorically – what does the sea stand for and how do we extrapolate the psychological implications of the idioms that we’ve developed around the ocean. Because thoughts take on such varied forms, the exhibition does not present any particular conceptual take on the sea. What emerges instead is an appropriate sense of reflection and contemplation that is as difficult to contain as the ocean itself.
Seven tenths of our planet is covered with the sea. We have mapped every inch of the land above water, and yet there are still fissures in the earth’s surface, beneath the ocean, that man has set neither foot nor flipper upon. Similarly, as Freud would have it, a large portion – perhaps it is seven tenths – of what we have come to understand as the mind is subconscious, like the majority of the iceberg that looms beneath the surface of the water. Oceans have always been a source of fascination to humankind over the ages, not least because of the belief that all life began in the ocean. In many early mythologies, the sea has its own deities and tales of early seafaring are rich with stories of the mythical creatures that were once believed to inhabit its depths. We have amassed whole oceans of empirical and scientific data to allay fears of being lured to a watery death by fish-tailed nymphs or dragged there by our ancestral monsters. There are also much fewer creatures in the ocean altogether now since it has proved such an important source of food, and the ships we now sail on are less susceptible to overturning in stormy seas. While the sea may no longer represent the walls of water between ourselves and new uncharted land, it still remains an obstacle between continents, between loved ones on opposite shores, no less now because we can fly over it. It also remains an area rich with metaphor – the sea as spirituality, as emotion, as life-force, as grave – and we remain akin to Friedrich’s well-known monk, who contemplates the state of his soul or the world he inhabits as he stares out to sea.
Cross-Currents includes work by Jake Aikman, Lien Botha, Stuart Cairns, Abri Fourie , Justin Fox, Damon Hyland, Stephen Inggs, Carla Liesching, Robyn Penn, David Southwood, Katherine Spindler, Jessica Webster, Alastair Whitton and Niklas Zimmer.