Performance artist Lerato Shadi uses knitting/crocheting, video, installation and sound to investigate themes of absence and presence, as well as the transformation of subject and object. She is a more traditional performance artist in that she lends her physical body to performances that last many hours.
For the live performance Tlhogo, Shadi crocheted a wool cocoon to fit the contours of her body. With just enough space left open for her to enter the woolen sheath, the South African artist maneuvered her body into the cover and crocheted up the opening from the inside. For the rest of the performance, she lay motionless on the plinth, a ‘living object‘. From the Stevenson Gallery press release: “At first glance the viewer is unable to tell that the ‘object’ is alive – only on close inspection does the movement of breathing become noticeable. The artist/performer changes position four times during the course of the evening, to relieve the body and to create a different sculptural image. Finally, she liberates herself from the woollen cover, leaving behind the crocheted ‘relic’.”
In the video projection 50 g, a view of a woman’s chest is shown in the background with her hands crocheting red wool in the foreground. While the act of crocheting creates a transparent protective barrier between the audience and the artist’s body, the crochet needle jabs and pokes through this layer. Shadi writes, “The crocheting can be compared to language, to the act of speaking, with the tongue weaving the words, while the pattern of the fabric is like written text. However, the viewer has no access to the information contained within it and does not understand what is being said. The title, 50 g, is another cryptogram.”
To see more of Shadi’s performance works, click here.