• Migrating Thoughts

    Date posted: January 14, 2009 Author: jolanta
    Andries Botha’s work explores the loss of self as people participate in mass migration in search of new imagined futures. Responding to a question about the work, Botha said, “Our contemporary modernity has resulted in a global pattern of human migration. Survival, desire, romance, greed, and tragedy are all metaphors that fuel the human imagination. Economic, social, and cultural disparities persist, and become recurring themes of contemporary life. These inequalities underpin the human tragedy of many societies that
    results in the mass migration of human beings seeking futures for
    themselves, and result in the extreme risks that people tend to take in
    imagining different destinies for their lives.” Migration suggests movement from one place to another. It also invokes survival and opportunity.
    This transmigration is of a physical or emotional nature.
    Image

    Bernice Stott

    Image
    Andries Botha, Wounded Elephant, 2008. Mild steel, oak barrels, wax, sound, and lighting components, 6 x 6 x 5 meters, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist.

    Andries Botha’s work explores the loss of self as people participate in mass migration in search of new imagined futures. Responding to a question about the work, Botha said, “Our contemporary modernity has resulted in a global pattern of human migration. Survival, desire, romance, greed, and tragedy are all metaphors that fuel the human imagination. Economic, social, and cultural disparities persist, and become recurring themes of contemporary life. These inequalities underpin the human tragedy of many societies that results in the mass migration of human beings seeking futures for themselves, and result in the extreme risks that people tend to take in imagining different destinies for their lives.”

    Migration suggests movement from one place to another. It also invokes survival and opportunity. This transmigration is of a physical or emotional nature. Absence renders emptiness, or alludes to life in the negative. The identity or visa photo in the negative affirms this metaphor in the work, a human quilt which reflects the amorphous body in transition. The searching for the new global village implies the erasure of fixed identities, and repositions them as shadows in transition.

    The work invokes the melancholia of transience: relationships and place which are transitory as part of our new modernity. People are beacons or fixed points of reference from where our spatial relationships are defined and our humanities are registered.
    Much global and South African research has focused on the cultural and human implications of the migrant labor system and its centrality in shaping our new modernity. Botha’s work submerges itself in this discourse, and refers poignantly to a civilization in the waiting or in migrational transition.

    Labor and survival necessity intertwines with our notions of place, sustenance, and household of origin. Botha’s work has much ambivalence: travel suggests adventure and excitement, yet threatens with imminent loss, dislocation and “empty space.” Migration is hugely informed by human survival, desperation in search of other futures, and is as such a massive cultural catalyst. Xenophobia remains a human metaphor underpinning territory, tribal conflict, and expedient human labor needs of our Western-market-driven systems. “This is,” Botha said, “the context that defines the extreme risks that people tend to take in imagining different destinies for their lives.”

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