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Mary Sibande - A Crescendo of Ecstasy

  • TMRW 21 Keyes Avenue Johannesburg, GP, 2196 South Africa (map)
Mary Sibande " A Crescendo of Ecstasy".jpg

Acclaimed South African artist, Mary Sibande, is inviting audiences to step into her mind with her astonishing new interactive and VR installation, A Crescendo of Ecstasy.

Presented by The Mixed Reality Workshop (TMRW) in collaboration with Eden Labs at Keyes Art Mile, the exhibition opens to the public on June 9th. It sees Sibande create an intricate and immersive environment that combines digital and physical sculptural elements to be experienced both in the real and the virtual.

“We thought it would be interesting if people were able to step into my head in a way and to experience a virtual or fantastical world that was really an amplified version of the work,” says Sibande of her new work. “In my work, the figures are always in the midst of some kind of action, as such there is already the suggestion of animation. So this collaboration with TMRW Gallery and Eden Labs made perfect sense within the context of my practice.” 

Described as a catalyst for new technological approaches to the artistic practice, Eden Labs, commissioned by TMRW Gallery, collaborate with artists to create immersive and groundbreaking projects that challenge the definitions of art and digital innovation. Working with Sibande on A Crescendo of Ecstasy has enabled the artist to create an immersive environment for the viewer that can be accessed both physically and virtually, foregrounding the complex relationship between reality, fantasy and artistic imagination. 

The installation sees Sibande take her practice to new heights with slithering vines, writhing purple creatures and bodies that all but disappear in a living environment. 

The impulse to create these elements of the installation is intimately woven into Sibande’s evolving artistic practice. In a recent conversation with TMRW’s Director Ann Roberts, Sibande revealed that she “stopped making work, almost for a year”, in the wake of the artistic and public impact of the large-scale figurative sculptures of her alter-ego, Sophie. “And then enter the creatures. I thought, you know what? I want to take down the body of Sophie, I want to dismantle it, to take it apart, to start from scratch. So for me, those creatures are a beginning, they’re a start. That’s why they resemble something from a biology class or something that is looked at through a microscope, a sperm. They are a seed that is about to break open and become something.”

Sibande also spoke about the use of the colour purple in A Crescendo of Ecstasy. “Colour is very important in my work. If you talk about colour, you talk about race. Colour places you. It is your geography and your language. Colour is your everything, your low self-esteem, your power, your lack of power.”

A Crescendo of Ecstasy will be installed in TMRW until July 28th, giving visitors the time to experience this new and experimental work by one of South Africa’s most revered artists. This groundbreaking installation powerfully underscores TMRW’s vision to be a space for artistic exploration and hi-tech play.