The Kunstmuseum Bonn dedicates a comprehensive solo exhibition to the Berlin-based South African artist Candice Breitz (*1972 in Johannesburg). The exhibition includes video installations and photographs drawn from the last 25 years.
Throughout her career, Breitz has explored the dynamics by means of which an individual becomes him or herself in relation to a larger community, be that the immediate community that one encounters in family, or the real and imagined communities that are shaped not only by questions of national belonging, race, gender and religion, but also by the increasingly undeniable influence of mainstream and social media. Collectively, the works in the exhibition invite reflection on the shrinkage of attention spans within an information economy that fetishizes celebrity and thrives on entertainment.
In recent years, the political dimension of Breitz’s practice has grown increasingly explicit, foregrounding the artist’s investment in intersectional feminism and in questions of social and political agency. Candice Breitz: Labour traces an arc from the artist’s earliest works—such as the Ghost Series, a series of photographs that was made in 1994 at the moment of South Africa’s political transformation —to more recent works such as TLDR (2017), a 13-channel video installation which Breitz produced in dialogue with a community of South African sex workers. A musical of sorts, TLDR articulates the community’s ongoing struggle against violence and stigma and towards basic human rights. Parsing the relationship between whiteness, privilege and visibility, Breitz points a finger at herself to bluntly ask whether and how artists living privileged lives can succeed in amplifying calls for social justice.
The exhibition as a whole takes its title from Breitz’s most recent work, Labour (since 2017, ongoing), a series of single-channel works documenting women giving birth. At a moment when women’s rights and bodily autonomy are being reversed worldwide, Labour re-imagines the embodied power that flows through mothers during birth as a resource that might be tapped for other purposes, such as the retraction of authoritarian leaders who have done harm to reproductive justice.