Guto Bussab ( Brasil / South Africa )
It seems natural and obvious that Guto Bussab works across disciplines; from photography to installations, to filmmaking and performance – his very existence rooted in the South/South paradigm is an act of straddling. Originally from Brasil, Bussab’s works betray a fascination with issues that are core components of the decolonial journey – identity; inequality; civic responsibility and gender politics. But it is to Bussab’s great credit that his explorations, such as “ Still Life With Vase” (Pigment based archival ink print on Hahnemühle paper 2016) – which could be read as an examination of privilege, function with opacity, side- stepping obviousness, sliding meaning under surface, as Guto Bussab plunges his head into a golden toilet bowl in the work, ‘ Still Life With A Vase’.
The image is and of itself beautiful, utilizing a controlled range of rich browns and golds. Most of Bussab’s photography is simply that- beautiful to behold. This is a deliberate strategy as he is so often exploring various forms and manifestations of the gaze- more specifically the white gaze, the masculine gaze, and LGBTI manifestations and reactions to the gaze; most notably in his ongoing web series, “ Gaze” (not to put too fine a point on it), but also in works such as “White Graze” (2016), a photo and video work reframing the Uncle Remus children’s story ‘ The wonderful Tar Baby story‘ and “ Die Nuwe Setlaar” (2016), a photograph that is a key component in the web series, which as a standalone image of a young mixed race, or in the South African parlance, “coloured” man dressed as a colonial settler from the 1592 occupation period of Cape History- represents a push back against all that is white, from privilege to white monopoly capital, and other proponents of the dominant paradigm in espoused South African culture.
The tonal range of these photographs, on a superficial level ties much of his recent work together, “From A Bar Of Soap”, “ You Are Everyone Else”, and the series “ Meek”, but there is more to it than these mere tones. There is a clear sense of unease in his work, whatever the subject matter – be it the indistinct line between sleep and death, or psychosexual embodiment – in order to articulate and reflect the South-South as a place where society functions in.
The series ‘ Corpus Urbanas (2005)’, large format photographs of people sleeping in public places in broad daylight, which at second glance resemble dead bodies, as well as the installation “ Greed Loses All” (2013), a row of golden toilets installed on one of Cape Town’s most exclusive tourist beaches, and ‘ Incubus’, a video work screened at the Rotterdamn Film Festival in 2005, all reveal a range of concerns that feed back below, and push out from underneath the visual magnetism of Bussab’s oeuvre. At first glance, these are hyperstylised portraits of sorts, but the subject of the portraits are not just the personalities within them, in fact the personality is most often stripped away, but rather the tension of similarity between the issues facing South/South countries; identity, gender politics and self-making amoungst others. The body of Bussab’s work is that of an artist exploring decolonial thinking, with an entirely self made vocabulary.
Words by Roger Young. 2016.
Solo Exhibitions :
2005 « CORPUS » MUTI Gallery, Johannesburg
2016 « STILL » AGOG Gallery, Johannesburg
Group Exhibitions :
2005 « POST-WHITES ONLY» curated by Aryan Kaganof, Hotspots Rotterdam Film Festival, the Netherlands.
2008 « AFTERMATH » , Art Extra ( now Brodie / Stevenson), Johannesburg, SA.
2013 « SUPERMARKET », MUTI Gallery, Cape Town, SA.
2013 « ENGINYART », Galerie Lausberg, Düsseldorf, Germany.
2013 « SCRABBLING », Infecting The City Public Art Festival, Cape Town, SA.
2014 « THE SECRET LOVE PROJECT », Culture Gallery, Cape Town, SA.
2015 « THATARTFAIR », Cape Town, SA.
2015 « WAITING », MUTI Gallery, with Senzeni Marasela and Angel~Ho, Cape Town, SA.
2015 « PASSING THROUGH », Space Between, Cape Town, Sa.
2016 « THATARTFAIR », Cape Town, SA