Bronwyn Katz explores notions of human identity, belonging and ancestry through seemingly mundane sources such as cardboard and string, domestic objects including pot scourers, and raw materials like iron ore.
At first glance, her sculptures might seem entirely abstract. However she is just as concerned with the spiritual and emotion power of her materials as she is their aesthetic properties. Born in Kimberley, South Africa and based in Cape Town, Katz considers the inextricable link between land extraction, processes of deconstruction and the legacies of colonialism and displacement.
Entitled I turn myself into a star and visit my loved ones in the sky, her first solo show in London features ten new works. To mark it opening at White Cube Bermondsey, she speaks about beauty, bodily connections and universal symbolism.
What first drew you to using found materials, and why do they continue to be integral to your practice?
I am interested in the residue that lives in found objects. I think of this residue as a collaborator in my work. Contributing to the value and importance of forgotten or neglected objects is political.
“Containment is a construct, a lie, a strategy of control and therefore there is always a possibility of reconstruction”
What is your first memory of visiting a gallery or museum?
Patience on a Monument: A History Painting by Penny Siopis, at the William Humphreys Art Gallery in Kimberley, South Africa.
Can you tell me about the significance of the title of your White Cube show: I turn myself into a star and visit my loved ones in the sky?
The title affirms that one exists within a body: the body, the earth and the stars are all part of a whole and can never truly be contained. Containment is a construct, a lie, a strategy of control and therefore there is always a possibility of reconstruction. One can break down, dissolving the current self, and yet within that lies a possibility of a reformation through new perspectives, towards new worlds and new galaxies.
The motif of the bed has also been significant to you. What does this everyday object mean to you?
I am thinking through the land as a bed and the soil as a blanket. Drawing allegories, gathered from stories told by elders in my community about the earth. The bed is a useful metaphor to which I consistently return within my practice.
What does beauty mean to you?
Beauty is the magic that life shows us when we pay attention.
All images © the artist and White Cube. Photos: Ollie Hammick
Bronwyn Katz, I turn myself into a star and visit my loved ones in the sky
At White Cube, London, until 27 June 2021VISIT WEBSITE