If she drowns, she is a woman, but if she succeeds, she is an overambitious, domineering bitch
Goodman Gallery Cape Town
23 June – 21 July 2018
Which Hunt? presents visceral new work in which Diane Victor grapples with South Africa’s gender-based violence epidemic and considers the complex social structures that underpin patriarchal power relations worldwide.
Victor does not claim to speak for all victims of the history of violence against women. She makes the point that the phenomenon is not new, but rather that ongoing scourge is currently being paid much greater attention. In this exhibition, Victor examines the pervasive effects of blame culture in society alongside depictions of women who have been made to bear responsibility for the abuse inflicted on them.
Deploying Victor-esque (dark) humour and characterisations drawn from real life, the artist considers universal traditions of violence against women, from the history of witch-hunts in Europe and America, to ‘corrective rape’ in South Africa today.
A drawing, titled Punching Judy, is inspired by the puppet show ‘Punch and Judy’ in which gender-based violence is trivialised. For Victor, the show is laced with a ‘horrifying absurdity’ as ‘children are encouraged to laugh at a baby being battered and a woman beaten to death.’ She seeks to expose these everyday narratives for instilling feelings of guilt and shame in men as well as women.
In her practice, Victor is renowned for boldly confronting taboo subjects and for rendering her subjects in affecting detail with masterful, mark-making across various mediums. This exhibition features etchings and lithographs, which were made during residencies in America and France last year, as well as large-scale drawings, smoke on glass and drawings made with candle smoke and ash as well as other burned materials.
Last year, Victor did three international residencies: the Helen Frankenthaler Print Residency at the Connecticut Centre for Contemporary Print (USA), Fondation Blachere Creating Residency (France) and the Cill Rialaig Residency Project (Ireland). Recent awards include the international print prize at the 2013 Guanlan International Print Biennale (China) and the Krakow Print Triennial award (2006). Her work recently featured on FUIR Exposition en Fondation Blachère Centre d’Art: Ten Artists Interrogate Exile in France.
Victor has exhibited widely in South Africa and internationally at MoMA (New York), the National Museum of Contemporary Art (Oslo) and at Yale University Art Gallery. Her work is held in collections, such as MoMA NYC, the Victoria and Albert Museum London, the Johannesburg Art Gallery, Wits Art Museum, Durban Art Gallery, Pretoria Art Museum, Iziko SA National Gallery in Cape Town and the SASOL Collection. Victor has lectured in Fine Arts at Tshwane University of Technology, the University of the Witwatersrand, Rhodes University and the University of Pretoria where she currently teaches printmaking and drawing.
Diane Victor (b. 1964 in Witbank, South Africa) has established herself as a major figure in the South African and International art communities and is renowned for her expert printmaking and draughtsmanship. Victor positions herself within the South African art scene through her bold confrontations with difficult and at times taboo subject matter. Her large scale drawings and etchings demonstrate a command of mark-making, which she uses to render her subjects in affecting detail. At times, her work seems to pose challenges to social and political life in contemporary South Africa, considering issues of corruption, violence and an unequal power distribution.
Having received her BA Fine Arts Degree from the University of the Witwatersrand, with a major in Printmaking, and graduating with distinction – Victor has gone on to win various prestige awards including the Sasol New Signatures Award in 1987. In 1988, Victor became the youngest recipient of the prestigious Volkskas Atelier Award which granted her a ten-month stay at the Cité Internationale des Artes in Paris, France. Over this period, Victor was able to work collaboratively with other experienced printmakers and to observe and reflect on a society very different from her own.
Victor has exhibited at numerous venues around South Africa and internationally, some of which include the UNISA Gallery, Fried Contemporary, MoMA New York, Faulconer Gallery, The Highpoint Center for printmaking, The Gus Fisher Gallery, National Museum of Contemporary Art Oslo, Yale University Art Gallery, The Contemporary Museum Honolulu, and Australia and Adelaide Central Gallery. Victor’s work is part of a number of important collections, including Sasol, Pretoria Art Museum, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Durban Art Museum and Santam.
Since 1990, Victor has been a lecturer, teaching Fine Art, at various South African institutions including the University of Pretoria, Tshwane University of Technology, Open Window Academy, the University of the Witwatersrand, Rhodes University and the University of Johannesburg.
Victor lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa. At present, she is a senior Fine Art lecturer at the University of Pretoria’s Department of Visual Art.