CUBICLE Series August 2022



CUBICLE Series August 2022
Aug 8 – Aug 20, 2022

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.














‘Making friends with the impersonal necessity of death is an ethical way of installing oneself in life as a transient, slightly wounded visitor.’― Rosi Braidotti, The Posthuman

As a child, I lived in a realm of magical thinking. I believed my thoughts, words and actions would have everlasting consequences. While I am aware now that my control of things is actually limited, I still believe that we all hold much responsibility with every thought, word and action.

Following certain systems and rituals helped me in childhood as a way of thinking and coping. This continues to inform my art practice to this day. It is this mode of meditative contemplation that has brought me to the method of working with numbers in a time-based performative way. For 22 pathways, I begin with a paint-laden brush. I count 22 strokes until the paint is faded – not gone but leaving a residue. Each brush mark is a ghost. This acts as a reminder of the consequences of the marks made in this world through our actions, as well as an expression of intergenerational trauma. The lasting effects of events long ago, with their many layers residing deep in my subconscious, continue to shape my present, which in turn shapes the future. 

The number 22 symbolic of the 22 Kabbalistic pathways connecting the Sephirot (the 10 attributes in Kabbalah through which the Infinite reveals itself). Each of these pathways has a unique energy believed to bring together the human qualities of being simultaneously both infinite and temporal. Infinite, in that we are ongoing as spirits, and temporal, in that we die in one lifetime.



As a collection, Situations spans an ongoing physical and conceptual investigation into the manipulation of the identifiable form of the ladder – bought, gifted as well as found. Bester is finding expression of situations which Sigmund Freud describes in his 1920 Beyond the Pleasure Principle. The situation referred to is what Freud aligned to the “death drive” (described originally by Sabina Spielrein in her 1912 paper Destruction as the Cause of Coming into Being), and its repeated tension with productive life-affirming forces – a situation wherein lie the complementary forces of the destructive and constructive / productive. The death drive recognizes violent, aggressive and harmful behaviour as necessarily life-affirming, masochistic even. Psychiatrist Karl Jaspers also explored how from the tension between triumph and failure something is born. 

Bester explores this opposition through the everyday object of the ladder. Required in ordinary life to achieve ascension, in the absence of human ability to fly, these ladders are however destroyed in the act of making (art). This physical manifestation of the life-affirming act of making while unmaking, achieving while failing, building while destroying is in response to the artist’s lived experience.     



This body of work explores opposing archetypes: of demons and saviours, day and night, champions and losers – all narratives that continue to develop from ideas of battles between two forces. The engine of story-telling and competition requires a villain, a mirror to our own shadows, and a catalyst for redemption (or doom, depending on the fight). Much of the world is framed in archetypal metaphors which both clarify and confuse our state as human beings. Masked killers and white-robed gurus abound, battling in the arena of nature on earth, on screens and in the streets.



Franli Meintjes (b. 1982) is a mixed media conceptual artist based in Cape Town. Through the years, her work has explored aspects of man’s spirit, like greed, self-exultation, and the misuse of power, with a particular focus on the South African cultural and political context. In this series, Meintjes’ continues her exploration of the nature of humankind: this time, his fall. Meintjes uses her own digital photographs, layered with a palimpsest of woollen fibres, to weave together South African landscapes, particularly agricultural scenes. The outdoor scenes have been printed on loose woven fabric, which is then covered with a punch-needle embroidery technique.

Man’s origin in the Garden of Eden, and his eventual expulsion from it, becomes the backdrop within which Meintjes sets her subject. In the vast garden, he was once naked in his innocence, but the figure we see now is covered. The idea of shame comes to mind. While all was provided within the bounds of the garden, outside the gates of Eden man is required to work the land in order to survive. The cowhide is both an outward expression of self and a hiding place. In the darkness of the hide is a measure of comfort. Man pulls the wool over his own eyes in an effort to present himself differently to the viewer. While the world can only see the cover he has chosen, his feet are small reminders of the nakedness in which he came into the world. He is resting in, but also blinded by the duality of his nature, the darkness and light, the yin and yang, the harmony and discord.



The works I am showing under the title of Inside Out are all concerned with vessels and containers: for fluids, feelings and bodies. At times they hold and at others they expel, either keeping secrets or leaking desires.

I see them all as part of an expanded drawing practice. To draw is to move, to record being a body in space. This movement, like the body that makes it, is either free or contained.

The iconography is taken from Ancient Greek culture, both a reference to my whiteness and an attempt to make it strange, hopefully to interrupt it (by means of means queer and other strategies). Here I drew from Sophocles’ Oedipus the King. Oedipus spends the play searching for a murderer, only to find that he himself is the culprit he was seeking. Lying dormant within him is a secret, his body a kind of trap destiny has set for him.



Eternal Circumstances was inspired by burnt hand-drawn star charts of the Southern Constellations that were retrieved from the rubble of the University of Cape Town’s Jagger library fire (which burnt down in 2021). The exhibition, named after a line from a seminal French modernist poem, leans on the etymology of ‘circumstance’ – that is, to ‘encircle, encompass, and circumscribe', searching for ways through the microscopic event of the Jagger Fire within the universe. Fire, as a source of action, an 'actant' that changes things, modified in the biological sense not just a historical structure and precious repository, but also the hierarchies of its contents which were for a moment exposed to the collective imagination as a singular disrupted landscape of terrible beauty.

These star charts say something about light, time, flux and entropy. The exactitude of digital observation systems may have diminished their value to modern astronomy yet they are reminders that the Imagined will forever be larger than the Known. They also seem prescient of future losses. As modern technology advances, reality retreats. Owed to the interference of artificial light pollution, anthropogenic radiofrequency and some 100,000 satellites in orbit, astronomers already know that night on earth will not be dark for long. What will it mean for us not to see the stars, as all our ancestors have done before us?

All the works in Eternal Circumstances drift between the cosmic and the maritime, exploring a space created by the distinctions of 'maps' for land, and 'charts' for oceans and space. They hint at alternative way-findings through the mazes, grids, networks, webs and words of the present future, all tethered by a fine thread to the archives of the past.