Group Exhibition: 'Let them eat Pap'

April 01, 2024 - May 31, 2024

49 Mostert Road, Melkbosstrand 7441, South Africa

ESCAP3 Gallery is delighted to present the Group Exhibition: 'Let them eat Pap', 01 April - 31 May 2024.

Participating Artists: Annemi Conradie-Chetty, Eric Frank, Goldendean AKA Dean Hutton, Dirk Jonker & Octavia Roodt.

Featuring painting, design, mixed media and print, the artworks selected for this exhibition provide comment leading up to the much anticipated forthcoming South African National & Provincial Elections scheduled for the end of May 2024, which some refer to as the most important held since the end of Apartheid. The title is derived from a local television interview, overheard as a comment by a member of the public given in response to the severe electricity crisis that has grappled the country during the past several years. The term is a clever colloquialism of the phrase “Let them eat cake”, allegedly a response by the last French Queen, Marie Antionette, that portrayed her apparent ignorance about the starvation suffered by the country, adding to events which would become the French Revolution between 1789 and 1799. Instead of decadent cake however, here the phrase has been assimilated into local South African culture and cuisine: Pap. A kind of porridge made from maize meal that can be cooked to be runny, soft or stiff, it can be served any time of day for breakfast, lunch or supper. Traditionally it is a staple food in many black households, but is eaten throughout the country mainly due to its low cost and versatility.

Researching this colloquialism, you will find that it had indeed also been used as title to a 2023 Carte Blanche two part Special Investigation into state corruption allegations with regards to Manganese mining rights in the town of Kuruman, in the Northern Cape. The investigation further revealed controversial ties between the South African ruling political party and Russian oligarchs, as possible incentive for our current reluctance to support Ukraine against the aggression of Russia.

'Let them eat Pap' captures a seemingly growing disparity of socio economic inequality, echoes of revolution and a divide between an “us” and “them”. Whilst the recently exposed State Capture scandal will have long term negative ramifications on state departmental capabilities, this will further diminish their abilities to function, leaving the most economically vulnerable with added hardship, as seen in the works by Eric Frank, 'Skep gou onse geliefste SASSA koei droog op! (Scoop quickly, our beloved SASSA (South African Social Security Agency) cow is drying up!)' and 'The Buffet at the end of the Rainbow'.

A corruption of ethics not only compromises our ability to process healing from a legacy of moral injustices, but it also hinders progress to repair extensive environmental degradation and attempt to transition to green technology, further exploiting within our borders for precious natural resources. By re-examination and recontextualization, Annemi Conradie-Chetty’s 'Imagine Sisyphus', narrates The Artist’s desire for truth, healing, reconciliation, and in a critique of nation building by confronting the national ideal past and present, and by facing often overwhelming discomfort in the the face of environmental damage..

As we struggle to climatise to living in a 'state' accused of being cartel-runned, there is a call for change - perhaps even a shout, as seen in the usually provocative work by Goldendean, from their aptly titled Series: 'Typographic Meditations'. It is noteworthy that, in 2017 their work was threatened with censorship, and won a significant legal battle around Freedom of Expression in a South African Equality Court. The landmark ruling dismissed charges of hate speech laid against the exhibition of art posters displaying the words 'Fuck White People' at the South African Iziko National Gallery.

From visual commentary, through a call to action or by meticulous mending, Octavia Roodt presents us with the work 'Rivier (River)', quietly reflecting on a well-known maxim used in discussion on Wu Wei: “that the river cannot be pushed or pulled, merely fall with gravity.”

Image Credit: Eric Frank l 'Skep gou! Onse liefste 'Sassa' koei droog op' l 2021 l Acrylic on canvas l 45 x 62 x 3,5cm (Framed) (Courtesy of The Artist & Real Happy Pictures)