Stumbling Block, a perimeter intervention, is devised so as to disrupt the approach to the gallery space – intended to elicit from the viewer a certain response: caution, aversion, a sense of threat. The response is in itself a performance, highlighting the implications of entering and interacting within such a space, in this instance a gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The context of the 'white cube' is of interest here, as well as the way in which it informs the manner of the viewer's association with it. Rather than a 'neutral space', independent of its socioeconomic and political environment, the same 'white cube' in Stockholm, Johannesburg or Tophane, Istanbul [where three art galleries were recently attacked by the 'neighbourhood youth'] places the viewer in differing and unique contextual frameworks, each with their own set of conceptual and ethical parameters/considerations. The nature of one's approach to the gallery space thus ought, in part, to influence the nature of one's witness and interaction within it.
A wrapped and blanketed performer lies on cardboard boxes, placed so as to partially block the gallery entrance. The hidden but evidently human form must be avoided: skirted or stepped over. Is it concern, is it disengagement, or indignation perhaps? What are they doing here? They don't belong here. A common sight within a city like Johannesburg, huddled forms sleeping in doorways, the work presents at the gallery perimeter the threat and encroachment of poverty. Stumbling Block is essentially an incursion, an incriminating and uncomfortable disruption of the assumed remove and privilege of the 'white cube'.
Stumbling Block / 2011 performance [2011, Goethe on Main, Johannesburg]
Stumbling Block / 2011 performance [video documentation 1 min 28 sec loop]