Michaelis Graduate Exhibition 2009

The Exhibition

This exhibition is the final work of the students graduating in 2009 with a Batchelor’s degree in Fine Art.

The Art

Chris Swift’s exhibtion was titled The Trojan Horse. Artworks included were: Aspire, The Trojan horse, The Great Escape (Trampoline & Vault), Pagasus, Pedagogue, Untitled (Excalibur), Nike, Reach For The Stars (Icarus), Sisyphus (dagga boy).

Foreword by Wim Botha

There is much art going around at the moment that deals with societal issues, with a critique or assessment of the various problems or challenges that human society as a whole, or more often, specific groups within a given society face. In fact, this kind of focus has always been present in art in some form or another, and this is probably right: artists often engage with pressing concerns that they observe around them, or experience first hand.

Some try to impose solutions, others polemicize the issues to stimulate debate, and sometimes there is a cynical undertone to these, a cool detachment, perhaps in order not to be seen to be too serious about specific positions taken.

The body of work that Christopher Swift presents in this catalogue of final year undergrad work is none of those. He seems to want to learn. He seems to be grappling with the issues in order to find answers – real solutions – based on his interest in and commitment to education. He goes about it in a totally honest and open way, without subterfuge or hedging bets. Also, since the core issue of education is usually in a more critical state in communities that are at an economic or financial disadvantage, and since those communities are historically of a cultural heritage and skin tone different to that of Chris’s, it calls for a lot of sensitivity in engaging with these topics. The works seem to have developed that sensitivity. He proposes education in its various forms not as a benign gift by the outside diagnosis of other’s problems but as everyone’s tool, an entitlement. There is no facile feel-good or bleeding heart here. He wants to become a school – teacher, which lends credence to his position: its not just talk. It comes from his fundamental belief that things could be different.

We have a lot of pressing concerns that are not optimally dealt with. In this body of work Chris is trying to frame some of those concerns, and seeing if solutions present themselves.

He does this by scavenging, and by means of material transformation: turning disposed-of objects into ideas and artworks. Scavenging for things always brings about a randomness, based on chance or luck. He seems to have had a lot of luck, finding things that fit his purpose perfectly. And he integrates these found objects into artworks seamlessly, with minute attention to detail down to (literally) the bolts and nuts.

And with it he brings the particular and varied histories of the objects, and along with it the history of our country, into the artworks.