In Litmus Skin the artist has used a series of photographs evoking a childhood that seems mixed with horror and delights. The motif of a circle indicates a symbol of protection: the circle a child draws around her/himself and the circle of protective love a caring mother traces around her children. A circle can also refer to a cycle, in this context a cycle of deprivation, which can be disrupted and replaced with roundness and fullness of being. The cycle of deprivation can be broken by an individual becoming conscious – loving, enacting new behaviours, ritualizing new events – and through a supportive community.
South African children charter potential hell realms of poverty, dispossessions and abuses. Peter Machen, referring to the Pinky-Pinky series in Penny Siopis’ work said “Stripped of our skin, we are all the same colour underneath. Adrenalin tastes the same to everyone. Whiteness might be pinkness but pink is not whiteness” (Machen, P pg 16). Red is associated with various meanings. In Litmus Skin red is primarily the colour of violence, blood, passion, victimhood and wounding.
Another concern in the exhibition is learning to love the work of art making. And so, there is another dimension to red, it expresses the importance of devotion to the work. “When it shows the Work turning red, it signifies not only a new level of vitality, the red of blood circulating once again, but also the red of the heart, the heat of love.”(Moore, T pg. 156).
Machen, Peter 2006 Red. KZNSA Gallery Catalogue.
Moore, Thomas 2008. A Life at Work. Piatkus. London.
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