Emotional contrasts

2009-10-20 00:00

TWO exhibitions — one offering hope and aspirations and another which explores the effects of drugs on the lives of people — can be seen at the KZNSA gallery in Bulwer Road, Durban, until October 25.

First up is ­ Poems for Angels, New Works by Andrew Verster. Writing about his angel constructions, Verster says: “Angels are messengers. They bring good news and bad. They are, for me, a metaphor for our dreams, ambitions and aspirations, and for our ­belief in something beyond the material.

“My angels are made of the most commonplace of materials, cardboard and paper, most of it recycled from packaging. There are two life-size standing figures made of ­unpainted corrugated cardboard and a series of cardboard and paper wings, stridently coloured in a way the classic white mythical angels never dreamed of. Somewhere in their construction lurks the craft of origami.”

Also at the gallery are a number of Verster’s poems, which he has illustrated. “In 2006 I wrote a number of poems for reasons which I have now forgotten,” he explains. “I did the first on New Year’s Day and wrote another the next. By the end of a week it had become a daily habit. I continued through until the end of April, when I stopped. From these 120 poems I have selected 19, each of which I have rendered in ink, and illustrated.”

The second exhibition, which deals with drug addiction, is titled Chats: Exploring Sugars Addiction In Chatsworth, Durban .

Sugars is a highly addictive mixture of cocaine and heroin of such low purity that it is often mixed with rat poison to assist it in passing into the bloodstream.

Particularly prevalent in the ­Indian community of Chatsworth, Durban, the effects of the abuse of sugars has devastating effects on ­society, health, education and ­employment. Children as young as 10 are often forced into dealing and prostitution to support their addiction.

In response to this reality, the KZNSA Gallery, in association with the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, embarked on a ­programme to investigate the effect of the drug.

The exhibition has two components. The first component is based on photographic autobiographies of five young people from Chatsworth. For two months, guided by the programme’s curators, they examined themselves through self-portraiture, and documented their home and family life.

The second component is based on a series of audio interviews. ­Attempting to shed some light on the political and historic reasons behind the abuse of sugars are sociologist Dr Ashwin Desai, medical practitioner Dr Khorshed Ginwalla, ­academic, activist and author ­Professor Fatima Meer, and community worker Brandon Pillay.

In addition, interviews with a ­sugars dealer, a very young woman currently serving a heavy sentence at Westville prison for drug-related offences, and a sex worker addicted to sugars, present a diverse series of observations and understandings of the root of the problems caused by the drug, and its devastating ­consequences.

Don’t miss these thought-provoking exhibitions.

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