Javett Art Centre to host major exhibition Buffer Zones by Visionary Award winners

By CityLife Arts Writer

All roads this weekend lead to Javett Art Centre at the university of Pretoria where the public will have an opportunity to view a major exhibition opening.

On Saturday 08 October at 12h30, the Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria (Javett-UP), will hold a public opening of its newest exhibition Buffer Zones by the Preempt Group, 2021/2022 Visionary Award recipients.

The exhibition opening will be activated by an introductory sonic rendition by performing artist Anelisa Stuurman, known by her stage name Analyzer. The day will end with a music session by DJ Nodiggity while watching the sunset over the Javett-UP bridge.

The Preempt Group is a multidisciplinary collective facilitated by Mbali Dhlamini and Phumulani Ntuli who have worked together since 2018 using the intersections of archives and open-source technologies as tools to interrogate and create alternative forms of knowledge. The duo explores the limits and possibilities of analogue, hybrid and transmedia when viewed through the lens of traditional epistemologies. In doing so, they attempt to make visible the lapses of technology within decoloniality.

Buffer Zones is situated on the second floor at Javett-UP near the entrance of the National Treasures of Mapungubwe Gold Collection which is currently on a long-term loan to Javett-UP from the UP Museums. Buffer Zones is a result of transversal research processes focused on the historical site of Mapungubwe. Using performance, orality the PreemptGroup is interested in investigating the fabric of the landscape around Mapungubwe as offering multidirectional signposts of an ecosystem in which human and non-human species cross paths. This very landscape has witnessed the rise and fall of an empire revealed by intergenerational stories, the illegal and colonial settlement during the goldrush, the great depression and several violent conflicts.

Buffer Zones meditates the excruciating destruction of the landscape and its ability to rehabilitate itself after years of institutional surveillance. By reading Mapungubwe’s landscape through the notion of an ecosystem, the film offers a break in response to the ongoing narrative around the histories of this place which are predominantly digested and distributed through a scientific academic lens. Using simulation, orality, holography, and photogrammetry as investigative methods, the Preempt Group attempts to present an unbroken view of the site.

 Also presented as part of Buffer Zones is a supporting work titled Spatial Fabrications: An Uninhabitable World, a series of films revolving around the screen and its politics, questions of representation, land justice and spirituality through various decolonial interventions.

 The Visionary Award is an annual art award aimed to discover, nurture and support creative outputs with a specific focus on the digital mediums of film and photography. The 2021/2022 iteration of the award was administered through a collaborative partnership between Javett-UP and the Tim Hetherington Trust, initiated to commemorate the memory of British photojournalist Tim Hetherington. The award aims to foster innovative approaches to visual storytelling by incubating visionary individuals and offering inspiration to others.

With submissions from various parts of the African continent including Ivory Coast, Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, Togo, Nigeria and Tunisia. It was the Preempt Group’s research methodology and the technological nature of their work, which displayed the potential to challenge conventional gallery presentation and curatorial practice that stood out amongst the finalists. Due to this, the Jury’s decision to bestow the 2021/2022 Visionary Award to the Preempt Group was unanimous.

 .Buffer Zones on show from 8 October 2023 – 5 March 2023 at Javett Arts Centre at the University of Pretoria.

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