Turbine Art Fair 2021: Stephen Hobbs in residence at the fair

The beloved Turbine Art Fair was the first Johannesburg-based fair to return to a physical presence in 2021, after we’ve all been having to manage the effects of the COVID-pandemic for the past two years. The hybrid-TAF of this year hosted a range of galleries, editions, collectives and project spaces physically at 10 Fricker Road, Illovo, from 30 September to 3 October, and extended those features to an online presence through online viewing rooms on Artsy.   

Inspired by TAF’s new, hybrid approach to doing fairs, this year we also decided to do things a little differently. We presented a “hybrid” booth, where we not only displayed some of our most recent printing collaborations, but also gave visitors the chance to get a glimpse into the making of fine art editions by having Johannesburg-based artist Stephen Hobbs in residence and creating at the physical fair. For this, we created a fully-equipped satellite workshop enabling Hobbs to work with our experienced David Krut Workshop (DKW) printing team during the fair.  

The collaboration history between Hobbs and David Krut Projects date back as far as 2009, and has broadened the artist’s practice to include printmaking, book making and publishing. Our New York operation has also produced and hosted talks, presentations and workshops at numerous universities and institutions throughout the United States over the past few years. Hobbs recently returned to Johannesburg after moving to the Republic of Ireland with his family only a few months prior to the COVID 19-pandemic putting an end to life and freedom of movement as we knew it. His stay abroad activated a new making trajectory and way of thinking, taking inspiration from and building on his 2015 research-based project, Permanent Culture (2015), and carried through to his Woodview Residency at TAF this year.  

Hobbs, whose printmaking practice is informed by the complex visual language and urban defensive planning used to construct cities, embraced the restraints and restrictions brought on by the pandemic as he turned to readily accessible art materials. This turned out to be cardboard box packaging coming from online purchases – a material we all became too used to during the time of COVID-19. Once opened and flattened, the boxes start to resemble floorplans and maps of an imagined kind and provided Hobbs with a blueprint for a range of drawings executed in reflective tape, as well as prints using the mediums of silkscreen, monotype, linocut, and paper sculpture. 

Dazzle camouflage, an early 1990’s zebra-like pattern used on gunships to fragment the visual field of enemy sites during combat and a key trope in Hobbs’ practice for many years, also made their way onto original artwork t-shirts screen printed at TAF by the David Krut Workshop.  

So far, two editions from this real-time residence at TAF have been made available and we can’t wait to share more work from our continuous collaborations with Stephen Hobbs.  

Additional media 

Stephen Hobbs viewing room 

Stephen Hobbs website 

Podcast: Stephen Hobbs in conversation with Jacqueline Flint 

Podcast: Stephen Hobbs – Optics, curiosity and playfulness  

Defence and deception in the modern South African battlefield: Stephen Hobbs on his etching suite, Buildings, bombs, bunkers and clouds  

Printmaking in the “armpit of America”: Stephen Hobbs on his whirl-wind lecture tour of the United States 

David Krut Bookstore 

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