CUBICLE Series August 2021



CUBICLE Series August 2021
Aug 2 – Aug 21, 2021

Cubicle is an ongoing platform at CIRCA Cape Town, giving artists scope to exhibit smaller bodies of artworks and site-specific installations for a two week period.










*Face masks are required and must be worn at all times when visiting the gallery

Installation images by Michael Hall


Bonita Alice | Eremocene*                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

In 1996, two administrators of a convalescent centre in the US state of Georgia wrote to Nature journal proposing that a name was needed for an individual that is the last of its kind. Nature invited suggestions from their readers. “Among the suggestions were ‘terminarch,’ ‘ender,’ ‘relict,’ ‘yatim,’ and ‘lastline,’ but the new word that stuck was ‘endling.’ Of all the proposed names, it is the most diminutive (like duckling or ‘fingerling’) and perhaps the most storied (like ‘End Times’). The little sound of it jingles like a newborn rattle, which makes it doubly sad.”

– Elena Passarello, Animals Strike Curious Poses, 2018

Not everyone gets marble. Some lives – and some deaths – are given more weight than others. We know this to be true of the human realm, and much has been said about the injustice that underlies it. Across all beings, it is particularly so that some lives are valued more than others, and much less is said about that. Our routine acceptance of the deaths of ‘nonhumans’ – in unimaginable numbers – is incomprehensible when we consider that most humans are empathic, and also squeamish about the spilling of blood. Yet it remains a rare and specialised enterprise to think about those deaths, and most of us don’t. Or can’t. When it comes to the finality of a species’ extinction, do we even begin to understand or feel the loss? We keep count of the numbers lost, but where is the grieving? 

*Eremocene means the ‘age of loneliness’, a term American biologist E.O. Wilson has proposed for the coming time, when humans will have destroyed most other life forms on Earth.



How many round things can we find? Consider first the round womb, the round sun and moon and earth; the orbs of emperors and the globes of explorers; the round amphitheatres of tragedians, the domes and rounded archways of cathedrals; our very own skulls; the wheels of ox-carts and calendars, of diagrams depicting natural cycles, of heavenly bodies orbiting a central point, and of the wheel of fortune; and on and on and on, as endless as the circle itself.

– Peter Sloterdijk

This new series, made during Cross’s second pregnancy, continues the artist’s aim of making stories of motherhood visible. While having a baby in utero, Cross’s body is a bubble of body and breath, entirely self-made. This interpenetration creates a discovery of self (bubble), and our placement within it (world globe). Her paintings, wrought in bright schoolyard colours, celebrate and mourn the gift and the loss of self that the cycle of motherhood produces. The bubbles in the series are both figurative and metaphoric; a devotional chant to micro-spheres, to the most intimate of originary spaces. The womb; the relationship between lovers; things that pay attention to a kind of inside, or interpenetration, depict a movement inward.

The show gets its name from philosopher Peter Sloterdijk’s Bubbles, which advocates for ‘cave research’, a turn away from mastery and towards the immersive bubble of “blood, amniotic fluid, voice, sonic bubble and breath”. To truly understand the fetal and perinatal world “one must reject the temptation to extricate oneself from the affair with outside views of the mother-child relationship; where the concern is insight into intimate connections, outside observation is already the fundamental mistake.” Cross’s interest in connections of intimacy is evident in her expansion of bubbles throughout the series: cyclical systems, wheels within wheels, circles, communicating vessels, hollow bodies (at once tight and leaky) alternate between the roles of container and content, and which simultaneously have properties of inner and outer walls.



 'I believe it comes in peace. The lines are too harmonious to be designed by devils.'

Prof. Roland Mertyn (From ‘Swart Ster oor Die Karoo’, Jan Rabie, 1957)

 ‘The ship’ is an installation from the archive Hemelliggaam Or The Attempt To Be Here Now. The selected fragments from the project attempt to connect and resonate in the historically maritime surrounding area, in the house of the old harbour engineer. All the contents composing 'The ship', including some inspired by pages of old Afrikaans science fiction novels, are about the human journey, how we perceive ourselves and our connection with the cosmos.

 'The ship' is sailing between waves and stars, between past and present, reality and fiction.
'The ship' is discovering, is passing, is disappearing.

Hemelliggaam (‘Heavenly Body’) or The Attempt To Be Here Now is a growing visual archive of photography and video installations, exploring the existential aspects of the human-environment-astronomy relationship, constantly moving between the reality of important scientific sites (such as the South African Large Telescope in Sutherland and the Square Kilometre Array in Carnarvon) and the imaginative fragments of old Afrikaans science fiction novels – in particular reference to one of the most existential and emblematic writers, Jan Rabie. 

The project (still in progress) is mainly focused on communities, landscapes and objects located in the Western and Northern Cape, where there is a special connection with the sky. Something archaic radiates from the local community in connection with their science and technology needs. The project is exploring this concept by looking at forms of awareness that are already active, and cultivating more awareness through conversations, participation and reflection. Hemelliggaam follows a deeply existential line, where the human beings (both the old and contemporary) through their own perception of the Universe are strongly connected with nature and the way it reveals itself.

Tommaso Fiscaletti and Nic Grobler are both artists based in Cape Town, South Africa. Their collaboration started in 2016. Work from the collaboration has been exhibited in museums in South Africa and internationally including the Iziko South African Museum, Cape Town, and Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Guarene, Italy. They were among the winners of the Contemporary African Photography Prize 2018. For the artists, exhibitions form an essential part of the creative process, where the viewer is invited to experience unique sequences of the work, revealing the mutable structure of the archive.



From ‘Lockdown Maps’ by Olivia Barrell

This new experimental body of work showcases Lyndi Sales’ most recent explorations: ceramic and abstract painting – combined to create clay maps, or islands, both whimsical and fragmented. These painted ceramic microcosms, conceptualised as islands, are a testimony to Sales’ experience over the past year, living through a series of lockdowns, in flux between controlled and uninhibited action.

Lyndi Sales’ unmistakable visual language draws from multitudinous sources of inspiration, frequently from the abstracted appearance and forms within scientific data. There are echoes of biological microcosms, climatological and geological charts, cartography, and other abstracted forms from the natural world in the artist’s visual imagery, imbued at the same time with deeply philosophical and spiritual currents. Brave New Worlds, Islands & the Realm of Bardo undeniably extends in this direction, drawing inspiration from the artist’s obsession with cartography but equally from the dystopian universe of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Buddhist philosophy from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, and the nonsensical Fook Island by South African artist Walter Battiss.

Limbo and questions around states of being are integral recurring themes – veins of investigation linked to consciousness, life, death and the states in between. “From The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, I was intrigued by the six bardo states – states of being that you live your life in – each state is almost like an island, and in between there is limbo from one destination to the next. The maps are an escape to a more utopian world,” says Sales. 

The artist fuses fictional universes, both utopian and dystopian, with her own imagined clay worlds which are playfully illustrative yet evoke contemplation. On reality. On journey. And perhaps, on our own spiritual internal landscapes. Each clay form possesses a unique personality – the outline of which reverberates through the painted visual language, creating the impression of a world within a world, an island on an island, and an echoing, seemingly unbound form that offers the viewer the sense of expansiveness – so characteristic of Sales’ work, that draws one further and further in. 

*In Tibetan Buddhism, bardo or antarābhava is the transitional or intermediate state of being from birth to death and re-birth.




From a text by Akshar Maganbeharie, with Shakil Solanki

In Shakil Solanki's Superstar Images at the Taj, he presents a series of 9 figures and scenes that are drawn from a range of references such as his personal life, Indian postcards, images from several photographers and the artist's current muses.

Another influence that comes through in the presentation's title is the Taj Mahal. Solanki notes that the Taj Mahal is both a monument of eternal love and a motif representing an idea of India in tourism, mass media and kitsch home decor. In addition to this, the Taj Mahal is also a site of grief, loss and pain as it was built as a tomb for Mumtaz Mahal, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan's beloved wife. Solanki mentions that taking a posed photo in front of the Taj Mahal seems to be the staple of visiting India, which is solidified for him by seeing these posed photos of his friends and family and that of actual Bollywood superstars.

Dhotis, jewellery, kurta tops, sensible heels and socks come together in this series of paintings, worn by blue figures who pose regally in front of backdrops that could reference the gardens of the Taj Mahal itself, or even a hotel or a park named after it. The works' titles are quotes from poems by queer poets of colour, songs by queer singers and lyrics from Bollywood soundtracks.

The blue ghost-like figures are present throughout Solanki's practice, and reference those present in Persian and Indian miniatures as well as depictions of Hindu gods. The male figures in these images coincidentally have feminine features, dramatic smoky eyes and glossy pink lips. Drawing inspiration from these specific images of Hindu deities weaves a thread through the meeting point of Solanki's queer and South Asian identities. The almost sapphire blue paintings evoke a wistful sense of dress-up, dotted and decorated with delicate golds, yellows, pinks, and oranges. A homage to the woeful, yet beautiful, romantic queer South Asian individual.




A Russian dancer is asked to explain her performance to a journalist, and she replies: “If I could say it in so many words, do you think I would take the very great trouble of dancing it?”

This quote is from the novel, The Sound and the Fury, described by one critic as “an exercise in futility”. It opens with a chapter written from the perspective of the youngest born, Benjy Compson, a severely mentally handicapped man who cannot process time and “moves through as many as 14 different moments across a 30-year period in [his] memory”.1

It is only as the story unfolds and different characters narrate, that the reader can look back on Benjy’s story with a different understanding of the Compson family and begin to piece together the story of their ultimate disgrace. Since reading Benjy’s story, this ‘exercise in futility’, has been an anchor for much of my work. I found the schizophrenic, nonsensical, yet deeply traumatic and hostile environment of Benjy’s world a compelling narrative – my work attempts to reflect similar themes.

Like the novel, rather than conforming to a linear structure my work allows the viewer to ‘hack’ their own path to the paintings core. My paintings offer fragmented scenes, some recognisable while others not so. Splicing the absurd with the mundane, the supernatural with the everyday. Each painting is a story painted a hundred times over. Layers vanish while new ones begin. It is a process much like Benjy’s story, constantly going back and forth.

Each time I feel like I’m making sense in a painting, I lose myself again. To lose the images underneath in order to create new ones offers a sense of resurrection. Each mark giving its life to the others above it.

These works string together a narrative with no cohesive beginning, middle or end, but are rather frantic and confusing moments ‘glued’ together through the medium of oil paint. Perhaps, as with Benjy’s story, it is this process that delivers a tenderness to storytelling.


  1. Churchwell, S. 2012. Rereading The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner.