Paul Emmanuel : Transitions Multiples
In association with Gallery AOP
Art Source South Africa are partners and project managers of Paul Emmanuel’s Transitions Project
FNB Joburg Art Fair presents Transitions Multiples, an exhibition by South African artist Paul Emmanuel. This exhibition forms part of Emmanuel’s critically acclaimed Transitions Project in which he explores the way society constructs perceptions and performances of a masculine identity. He examines shifting male identities in a post-colonial society through examining the rituals and rites of passage that mark the passing of one life phase into another.
Robyn Sassen comments: “How does one slip the boundaries of liminality and shift from being a foreigner, a stranger, a creature in exile, to one who belongs within the society? It’s a complicated set of values, and each culture has its own initiation imprints that define its members and celebrate qualities that it deem important… Emmanuel doesn’t critique the gestures… He acknowledges these gestures for the shift in values and self-identification they represent.”
Transitions Multiples consists of a suite of five large-scale hand printed lithographs and an award-winning artist’s film, 3SAI: A Rite of Passage. The lithographs, in an edition of 35 each and titled respectively number 05000674, parade of shadows, table number 12, field of flames and platform number 5, were printed in Emmanuel’s Johannesburg studio on a press imported from Takach Press Corporation, New Mexico, USA. Working on a large flat limestone coated with a layer of black ink, he used the subtractive manière noire (“black method”) printmaking technique to create the images, scratching into the black ink ground with a blade, methodically working from dark to light, and hand colouring them after printing. Each of the five lithographs is made up of a sequence of three images, printed separately on a sheet of 285 gsm Fabriano Rosaspina Avorio paper and glued together with archival glue to form a triptych.
The 14-minute film, 3SAI: A Rite of Passage, written and directed by the artist with an original soundtrack by Wilbert Schubel, is available in a limited edition of 10 single channel high-definition video artworks with stereo soundtrack. This non-narrative short film features documentary footage of the head shaving of new recruits at the Third South African Infantry Battalion (3SAI) in Kimberley, South Africa. These images are interspersed with time-lapse sequences of the Gariep Dam and a land art installation entitled The Lightweights (2007, Topfontein Farm, Free State).
Emmanuel comments, “These liminal moments of transition, when a young man – whether voluntarily or forced – lets go of one identity and takes on a new identity as State Property with an assigned Force Number, prompted me to ask many questions: What was I actually witnessing? What is a ‘Rite of Passage’ and how have similar ‘rituals’ helped to form and perpetuate identities and belief systems throughout history?”
3SAI: A Rite of Passage has won a number of international film awards, namely Best Short Film in the fourth Africa-In-Motion International Short Film Competition Edinburgh, UK (2009) and Best Experimental Film on the Sardinia International Film Festival, Sassari, Italy (2009). In 2011 it was nominated for Best Experimental Film at the ninth In the Palace Short Film Festival in Bulgaria. The film was also officially selected for nine international film festivals.
Born in 1969 in Kabwe, Zambia, Paul Emmanuel graduated in Fine Arts from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1993. In 1997 he was the awarded the inaugural Ampersand Fellowship. In 2002, he won first prize in the Sasol Wax in Art Competition for Air on the Skin.
In 2004, Phase 1 of his ephemeral memorial installation, The Lost Men, was launched at the 2004 Grahamstown National Arts Festival, South Africa. In April 2007, Phase 2 of this project was installed on the Catembe Ferry jetty in Maputo, Mozambique.
In September 2008, Transitions, a touring museum exhibition, premiered at The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, subsequently touring South African museums. It is currently in the second year of a four-year international museum tour. The drawing component of the Transitions Project, as well as an editioned copy of the artist’s film 3SAI: A Rite of Passage forms part of the Spier Contemporary Collection. An editioned copy of 3SAI: A Rite of Passage was also acquired by the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington DC, USA for their permanent collection, as well as by Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Bloemfontein, South Africa.
Paul Emmanuel lives and works in Johannesburg.