Hasan & Husain Essop / Refuge / 2017

About

Goodman Gallery Johannesburg
15 July – 19 August 2017

Refuge: the state of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or difficulty.

In Refuge, twin South African artists Hasan and Husain Essop address the cultural conflicts surrounding questions of national belonging that have spawned from the Syrian refugee crisis.

From the perspective of young Muslims living in the Islamic diaspora, the Essops have produced new works that investigate mainstream media representations of the refugee crisis according to the perception that there is increasing misunderstanding and fear of Islam in the secular world.

The exhibition poses the question: ‘what constitutes refuge?’, presenting new works – photographs, sculptural installations and video – which consider the traumas of millions of individuals who have been made into collateral damage as a result of this devastating conflict.

The works also explore the circumstances leading to the ongoing civil war in Syria and juxtapose the destructive propaganda and recruitment tactics of extremist groups like ISIS with the peace and spiritual fulfillment that many find in Islam.

In a series of photographs, the Essops work in their characteristic mode, performing within the frame of the camera to imagine the experiences of people displaced by forces much larger than them. The work also makes a connection with South Africa’s history of forced displacement and the legacies of slavery and colonialism that first brought Islam to the Cape.

This self-reflexive impulse is playfully re-employed in a series of proposed ‘Muslim superheroes’ in which the Essops amalgamate American comic book and action figures with heroes and villains of Islam to question Western assumptions about cultural difference.

Sculptural installations lend a visceral immediacy to events in Syria that are mostly experienced in the abstract via mass media. As a deliberate counterpoint to the propaganda videos of extremist groups, the video filmed in The Holy Kaaba in Mecca gives a glimpse into a moment of deep significance for Muslims all over the world.

Hasan and Husain Essop (b. 1985) live and work in Cape Town. Their work is concerned with the role of the individual in society, particularly through the lens of young Muslims living in a secular environment. They were the recipients of the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Art in 2014, and the resulting exhibition Unrest has been seen in cities across South Africa as well as in Dubai and Sydney. They have participated in group exhibitions all over the world, including the Havana and Dakar Biennials and the important exhibition Figures and Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography at London’s V&A Museum. Their work forms part of several public collections, including The Walther Collection, The Iziko South African National Gallery and the Deutsche and Standard Bank collections.

Refuge is the Essops’ third solo exhibition at Goodman Gallery.

  • Usual Suspects

    Hasan and Husain Essop

    Usual Suspects, 2016

    Pigment inks on cotton rag paper

    100 x 150 cm / 90 x 130 cm

    Edition of 6

  • Border wall

    Hasan and Husain Essop

    Border wall, 2016

    Pigment inks on cotton rag paper

    100 x 150 cm / 150 x 100 cm / 90 x 130 cm

    Edition of 6

  • Beached

    Hasan and Husain Essop

    Beached, 2016

    Pigment inks on cotton rag paper

    90 x 130 cm

    Edition of 6

  • Black terror

    Hasan and Husain Essop

    Black terror, 2016

    Pigment inks on cotton rag paper

    100 x 150 cm / 90 x 130 cm

    Edition of 6

  • Beheading

    Hasan and Husain Essop

    Beheading, 2016

    Pigment inks on cotton rag paper

    100 x 150 cm / 90 x 130 cm

    Edition of 6

  • Refugees

    Hasan and Husain Essop

    Refugees, 2016

    Pigment inks on cotton rag paper

    90 x 130 cm

    Edition of 6

  • Cyber Recruit

    Hasan and Husain Essop

    Cyber Recruit, 2017

    Pigment inks on cotton paper

    150 x 100 cm / 90 x 130 cm

    Edition of 6

  • Stowaways

    Hasan and Husain Essop

    Stowaways, 2017

    Pigment inks on cotton paper

    150 x 100 cm / 90 x 130 cm

    Edition of 6

  • Seeking forgiveness

    Hasan and Husain Essop

    Seeking forgiveness, 2017

    Pigment inks on cotton paper

    90 x 130 cm

    Edition of 6

  • Mass Grave

    Hasan and Husain Essop

    Mass Grave, 2017

    Lightjet C-print on archival paper

    900 x 249 cm

    Edition of 6

  • Dark Imaam

    Hasan and Husain Essop

    Dark Imaam, 2017

    Lightjet C-print on archival paper

    160 x 110 cm

    Edition of 6

  • Hulk Habib

    Hasan and Husain Essop

    Hulk Habib, 2017

    Lightjet C-print on archival paper

    160 x 110 cm

    Edition of 6

  • Saudiman

    Hasan and Husain Essop

    Saudiman, 2017

    Lightjet C-print on archival paper

    160 x 110 cm

    Edition of 6

  • State Fury

    Hasan and Husain Essop

    State Fury, 2017

    Lightjet C-print on archival paper

    160 x 110 cm

    Edition of 6

  • Installation picture [Hasan & Husain Essop / Refuge / 2017]