SWAT

About

The ambiguities of words, playful provocation and grave disquiet are ubiquitous elements in the work of Willem Boshoff. In SWAT, a new exhibition at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg, Boshoff reignites these components in a series of unique works that confront capitalism, religious text, exploitation, globalisation and imperialism, amongst other interrelated concerns. Characteristically, Boshoff does not present a straightforward stance, but rather goads us into asserting our own.

Many of Boshoff’s new works have a simple word or statement that has universal associations as their central focus. In

PIG Boshoff considers the negative associations that have been forced onto the word pig through definitive texts. Here he references Leonard Shlain’s book The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, which proposes that “the process of learning alphabetic literacy rewired the human brain, with profound consequences for culture”. In the book, Shlain explores how in pre-alphabetic times, unclean animals were the noble ones. With the advent of the Abrahamic religions, these animals were condemned to be ‘dirty’, and their degraded status was enshrined in scriputure. On a massive sheet of milkweed paper, Boshoff interweaves fragments of texts from the Jewish Torah, the Quran and the Bible. Such definitive texts, Boshoff explains, “are dangerous things … Text makes knowledge permanent”. With this in mind, Boshoff uses text in a way that is deliberately open to interpretation, even if he himself is partial to a particular sentiment.
In new works Boshoff also explores a growing antagonism towards one of the world’s most controversial superpowers – the United States of America. The work SWAT brings together fragments of maps reformatted to form a distorted map of the world. Wooden swatters bearing a cut up US map are superimposed over the larger map. As a whole the work brings to mind SWAT teams, while the plastic insects spelling out the word, prompt the viewer to think of swatting flies. In what he refers to as a philosophical piece, Boshoff reflects on the way in which people are treated in the same unforgiving manner as insects. The work also recalls writer Ivan Vladislavic’s observation that one of Boshoff’s “main aims is recovery – of lost words, sated senses, family unities, broken maps.” In Crusade, Boshoff takes another stab at the United States. Within the work, wooden crosses form the background, while blocks of brown wood spell out the word crusade. Within the word, the central letters USA stand out, as they are made out of dark wooden spikes. Just as PIG refers to subjecting a word to a definitive association, Crusade refers to the imperial process of subjecting the world to a forced notion of what is right.
Boshoff will also take his manipulation of words to a performative level with the piece Burning Bush, the outcome of which will be revealed at the exhibition opening.
Willem Boshoff was born in Vereeniging, South Africa, in 1951 and now lives in Johannesburg. Boshoff studied and taught at the Johannesburg College of Art and the Witwatersrand Technikon (now the University of Johannesburg). He is both a wordsmith and a maker of images and objects. A self-taught dendrologist, his interests range widely across the fields of botany, literature, and geography. He has made concrete poetry; he reads and makes dictionaries; he is a sculptor and makes installations; he is an inveterate seeker of words, names, plants, and objects (both natural and synthetic), from which he constructs his art. Boshoff’s encyclopaedic impulse is evidenced in his collecting and making practices: everything is material for making art, every detail in the natural world is imbued with meaning and can be appropriated or spoken of with fervour. Boshoff’s work has been shown at many major museums in the world and he has been included in biennales in Johannesburg, Havana, Venice, and Saõ Paolo. In a performance at Art Unlimited in Basel in 2009, Boshoff presented Big Druid in his Cubicle, literally setting up residence in the exhibition space provided for the duration of the show. His solo shows and permanent installations include Blind Alphabet; Nonplussed; dictionaries and cryptic writings such as Bangboek; the ever-growing Garden of Words and his massive sculptures in stone.

  • Bull

    Willem Boshoff

    Bull, 2011

    128x250 cm

  • Pig

    Willem Boshoff

    Pig, 2011

    Paper, human hair, wooden frame and base.

    128x 250 cm

  • Vulture

    Willem Boshoff

    Vulture, 2011

    126 x 24 8cm

  • Swat

    Willem Boshoff

    Swat, 2011

    Paper, wood, plastic

    128x250 cm

  • Dubul' ibhunu

    Willem Boshoff

    Dubul' ibhunu, 2011

    Paper/text, inserts of wood.

    126 x 250 x11 cm

  • SAU AUS USA

    Willem Boshoff

    SAU AUS USA, 2011

    Cut-out block letters in wood.

    Variable

  • The Druid's Table

    Willem Boshoff

    The Druid's Table, 2011

    Wood, sand, glass.

    118 x 250 x 75 cm

  • Tree Walk

    Willem Boshoff

    Tree Walk , 2010

  • Tree Walk+ New York 09-11-2001

    Willem Boshoff

    Tree Walk+ New York 09-11-2001, 2008

  • Self Portrait

    Willem Boshoff

    Self Portrait, 2011

    Glass, wood, stone and plastic

  • Blind Fish No 9

    Willem Boshoff

    Blind Fish No 9, 2011

    Jacaranda and Imbuia wood

    Variable

  • Bifidity

    Willem Boshoff

    Bifidity, 2009

    Sculpture

    Edition of 30

  • Tshidumbumukwe

    Willem Boshoff

    Tshidumbumukwe, 2010

    Imbuia sculpture (multiple)

    57 x 50 x 31 cm

    Edition of 5

  • Wall Shifts in Wood

    Willem Boshoff

    Wall Shifts in Wood, 2010

    Relief wall sculpture, wood, three interlocking pieces

    75 x 58 x 60 cm

    Edition of 5

  • Prime Numbers

    Willem Boshoff

    Prime Numbers, 2010

    Engraved aluminium

    120 x 120 cm

    Edition of 5

  • Children of the Stars - Calculus Moo

    Willem Boshoff

    Children of the Stars - Calculus Moo, 2010

    Etching

    35 x 52 cm

    Edition of

  • Children of the Stars- Big B

    Willem Boshoff

    Children of the Stars- Big B, 2010

    Etching

    35 x 52 cm

    Edition of

  • Highveld

    Willem Boshoff

    Highveld, 2010

    Hardground etching

    91.4 x 121cm

    Edition of 25

  • Light Box I

    Willem Boshoff

    Light Box I, 2009

    Street image 1

    87 x 122 cm

    Edition of 5

  • Light Box II

    Willem Boshoff

    Light Box II, 2009

    Street image 1

    87 x 122 cm

    Edition of 5

  • Oh No! Words - Amychesis

    Willem Boshoff

    Oh No! Words - Amychesis, 2010

    Offset litho print

    29.5 x 42 cm

    Edition of 35

  • Oh No! Words - Formication

    Willem Boshoff

    Oh No! Words - Formication, 2010

    Offset litho print

    29.5 x 42 cm

    Edition of 35

  • Oh No! Words - Oneiropomist

    Willem Boshoff

    Oh No! Words - Oneiropomist, 2010

    Offset litho print

    29.5 x 42 cm

    Edition of 0

  • Oh No!  Words - Culmicolous

    Willem Boshoff

    Oh No! Words - Culmicolous, 2010

    Offset litho print

    29.5 x 42 cm

    Edition of 35

  • Oh No! Words - Pogonophobia

    Willem Boshoff

    Oh No! Words - Pogonophobia, 2010

    Offset litho print

    29.5 x 42 cm

    Edition of 35

  • Oh No! Words - Intercourse

    Willem Boshoff

    Oh No! Words - Intercourse, 2010

    Offset litho print

    29.5 x 42 cm

    Edition of 35

  • Oh No! Words - Paratomy

    Willem Boshoff

    Oh No! Words - Paratomy, 2010

    Offset litho print

    29.5 x 42 cm

    Edition of 35

  • Oh No! Words - Dromomania

    Willem Boshoff

    Oh No! Words - Dromomania, 2010

    Offset litho print

    29.5 x 42 cm

    Edition of 35

  • Light Box III

    Willem Boshoff

    Light Box III, 2009

    Street image 1

    87 x 122 cm

    Edition of 5

  • PI

    Willem Boshoff

    PI, 2010

    Engraved aluminium

    120 x 120 cm

    Edition of 5

  • Acetylseryltyrosylserylisoleucylthreonylserylprolylserylglutaminyl

    Willem Boshoff

    Acetylseryltyrosylserylisoleucylthreonylserylprolylserylglutaminyl , 2010

    Engraved aluminium

    120 cm X 120 cm

    Edition of 5

  • Children of the Stars - Spilt Gro

    Willem Boshoff

    Children of the Stars - Spilt Gro, 2010

    Etching

    35 x 52cm

    Edition of 30

  • Children of the Stars - Split B

    Willem Boshoff

    Children of the Stars - Split B, 2010

    Etching

    35 x 52cm

    Edition of 30

  • Children of the Stars- Little B

    Willem Boshoff

    Children of the Stars- Little B, 2010

    Etching

    32 x52 cm

    Edition of 30

  • Children of the Stars- Clast Ma

    Willem Boshoff

    Children of the Stars- Clast Ma, 2010

    Etching

    35 x 52 cm

    Edition of

  • Circle

    Willem Boshoff

    Circle, 2011

    Etching

    600 x 450mm

    Edition of 4

  • Crusade

    Willem Boshoff

    Crusade, 2011

    128x 250 cm

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