Lorenzo Nassimbeni reflects on his formative experience of working with David Krut Projects at the D.K.P Workshop in Johannesburg. He frames this influential engagement around his own practice and articulates his artistic direction in view of the recent opening of ‘City Below’, which is his current exhibition in collaboration with NIROX Projects in Johannesburg.
”It has been an inspiring discovery to note that the discipline of architecture and the art of printmaking are both strongly and subtly linked. Both disciplines rely upon methodical thought, rigorous process and the creation of space into which poetic and conceptual layers of the artistic process may be invited to unfold. In a way, I see printmaking as the perfect medium for the extension of my practise as an architect, and expression as an artist. Importantly, printmaking enables me to bridge the disciplines of architecture and fine art via the construction of a seamless, crisp line. David Krut Workshop is the perfect context for this very poignant dialogue. Working with Jill Ross and her team is a most fulfilling experience. The environment supports and encourages technical excellence as well as conceptual freedom. The element of chance and the notion of collaboration are embraced at DKW. An artwork becomes a discussion, layered and rich, and shared. With DKW, I work within a brief which is suggested by the team. This is very good. As with architecture, good results come from artistically sensitive constraints. In the context of my current research, I am investigating the layered history of the subterranean architecture of Johannesburg. So, at DKW, copper plate for copper plate, layer for layer, the existing urban subterranean tunnels, caves, storm-water pipes, decommissioned mines and catacombs are being uncovered.
This work has been explored further in an exhibition held at NIROX Projects. The exhibition is entitled ‘City Below’. It is an exhibition exploring and exposing the existing subterranean landscape of which I speak. The exhibition will see the unveiling of an ‘Invisible’ or ‘Imagined City’ represented in the form of a large mural. The ‘Invisible’ or ‘Imagined City’, is composed of a subterranean spatial element inspired by the geometry of an existing tunnel which runs between the old Park Station in Braamfontein, and the former Post Office building in Rissik Street. In the past, the tunnel was used to transport mail from one space to the other. It is no longer in use as intended. I began my interest in the subterranean architecture of Johannesburg at the Drawing on Origins Workshop hosted by the NIROX Foundation and GIfA (Gauteng Institute for Architecture) in 2012. The workshop was curated by architects Elena Rocchi and Dieter Brandt.
In ‘City Below’, the lines representing the organic spaces below the surface of the Cradle of Humankind are extended to the subterranean treasures of the CBD of Johannesburg.
Whilst the caves of the Cradle of Humankind are the site of significant recent paleontological discoveries, human relics contained by an organic architecture, it is interesting that some of the subterranean tunnels and storm-water networks of the Johannesburg CBD were inhabited in the past – modern humans in a constructed subterranean environment.
City Below offers the public an opportunity to view a representation of a part of the city of Johannesburg which, for many, is not visible in everyday life. Once the exhibition is over, the mural will be erased, and the City Below be returned to the imagination.”
-Lorenzo Nassimbeni, January 2015