Oh So Quiet

Group Exhibition
15 July - 9 September 2023

Exhibition Opening: Saturday 15 July 2023
Exhibition Closure: Saturday 9 September 2023

Oh So Quiet…Material Meditations on Abstraction

WHATIFTHEWORLD presents Oh So Quiet, a group exhibition curated by Akshar Maganbeharie.

Maybe the difference ain’t between
performance and practice. Maybe it’s
not between practice and playing.
Maybe the difference is all inseparably
inside out and unexternalizable, all and
more and none and gone, come on,

Fred Moten

What does it mean to occupy space through an equation of abstraction? In the oh, so quiet, the shhhh, shhhh and the zing boom? To be made and stitched together – by body, by bead, by memory-made-cobblestone? To be given form by intuition or by pins that hurt but bind?

What unfolds in the movement where form stretches itself out beyond the surface space of an artwork – abstracting its essence? When it begins to move into the socio-historical and affective spaces of materiality and phenomenology?

WHATIFTHEWORLD’s latest group exhibition titled Oh So Quiet…is a visual meditation and journey thinking, and feeling, through these questions and the dust they unsettle. Textured by a sensibility that evokes the poetics of abstraction and constitution, the show’s title is inspired by Icelandic singer Björk’s song ‘It’s Oh So Quiet,’ released in 1995. The work of citation should be no afterthought, the intention and intertextuality carried by it are always important. Speaking about the site/sight of the show finding its articulating form in citation by virtue of Björk’s song, Curator and Artist Akshar Maganbeharie shares:

Sonically, ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ starts off slow and soft, but gets louder in the chorus and then gets quiet again in the second verse, so it zigzags in sound, creating a shape in my mind. Looking at the song structurally – the quiet instrumental verses mixed in with the louder vocal choruses – reminded me of the works in the show, so I thought of linking them.

Oh So Quiet delves into the alluring intersections of abstraction, materiality, shape and elements of figuration. Through an array of mediums such as assemblage, sculpture, painting, printmaking, and collage, the exhibition proposes to transcend conventional ways of working and explore the artists’ own methods of construction. In thinking about the artists, their work and what they converge to form in Oh so Quiet, I am led to what Fred Moten articulates in his essay “come on, get it!” penned in 2018:

A band makes music; the making of the band is poetry: anarchitectural, anatopological syntax in correspondence. How can you make the making of the music sound good? The social cultivation of “mere accompaniments” of the utterance. Their practice is their theme. Sometimes this takes the form of commentary, sometimes of inventory. Making ain’t reducible to its conditions but it ain’t detached from ‘em, either.

As discourse is the mouthpiece of ideology, it would then make sense to call language a site/sight of making. Our ideas of the world, what exists outside of it, the pulse of our humour and the weight of our anguish, are shaped by and through language; a matrix of semiotic forms. However, because the process of making is a process always in the making, our relationship with language – as ideological and semiotic form – also shifts, perhaps widening as we come into contact with more of the world. Making ain’t reducible to its conditions but it ain’t detached from ‘em, either.

The chorus of thematic concerns circulating within and  beneath the exhibition’s material topography include questions of home, cultural identity, displacement and  the  socio-historical impact of violence on the processes of meaning-making. Each work is peppered with  the artists respective individual practices, processes and personhoods but inflected upon through their contact and relationship with each other as they fan out all over the gallery space. In a visual symphony that sees “what we come to in the making. What it is to be able not so much to ask but to construct a question, to be allowed being also to be required to construct, construct implying some intention—fanned out all over the yard…” (Moten, 2018).

Text by Lindi Mngxitama

Participating Artists:

Belén Uriel
Bella Knemeyer
Ben Orkin
Francis Offman
Hanna Noor Mahomed
Lauren dela Roche
Mia Chaplin
Pierre Vermeulen
Richard John Forbes
Sahlah Davids
Tzung-Hui Lauren Lee