Bored Againby Nolan Stevens / 21.09.2011
We’ve all heard it before; from gogos, toppies, and even old G’s who say things like “the kids of today…” and then sigh. It’s always the same negative context when old cats start a sentence like that. And the reaction invariably turns out to be another rendition of the old chestnut “my parents just don’t understand”. This snafu is exactly what the current exhibition at Braamfontein’s Grayscale Gallery is attempting to challenge. Bored showcases works by a range of young, alternative artists who have produced their art on skateboard decks – for a change.
On the one hand I get where the toppies are coming from. We are kind of a mix masala of sub cultures more defined by malaise and apathy than any guiding ideology or direction beyond being and looking cool. To the point where an inked up, skateboard carrying, low-riding cat strolling around in super slow motion lost in his headphones, has become the norm. This was something that Natalie, one of the artists on show, chose to address. Confessing that she took the name of the show quite literally, focusing on how our generation want to have a cause but have very little to fight for. She added that because of this our parents see us as being lost. Her three dimensional piece “Ma se Kind” depicts this viewpoint; she explains that by making a work that is three dimensional and making the skateboard unusable she points directly at the perceived dysfunctionality of kids of today.
There must be some kinda boredom to us creating all of these subcultures to submerse ourselves in, right? Sure it’s arty and hip to be alternative, but in the exasperated words of my moms, “alternative to what exactly?”
On the other hand, what Grayscale owner and JHB graffiti icon Rasty, and the rest of his band of Y-me generationalists, seem to be saying is just because we live a more challenging and alternative way of life, doesn’t mean that we should be looked down on. A point which many of the artists on the show chose to focus on in their works. Case in point was Rasty’s board; an eye carved out in relief from the deck of a skateboard. “I basically just carved into the board of a skateboard. Anyone who knows about skateboards will know that its rock hard compressed wood, that’s really hard to cut into. It was laborious. Something someone would only do if they were bored and had nothing else to do but sit there and carve a board.” Which shines a different light on the overarching apathy and ennui that seems to define our generation. Literally that the state of boredom is a necessary step in breeding both beauty and creativity. Speak to any of the other artists, take Kevin Love for example, and you’ll hear similar sentiments of how they find both comfort, inspiration and eventual creation springing from that stale state. Boredom.
*Check out the show if you can. Bored runs at the Grayscale Gallery in Braamfontein until Wednesday 12 October 2011.