Transgressing Power by Usha Seejarim


Robyn Sassen

A freelance arts writer since 1998, I fell in love with the theatre as a toddler, proved rubbish as a ballerina: my starring role was as Mrs Pussy in Noddy as a seven-year-old, and earned my stripes as an academic in Fine Arts and Art History, in subsequent years. I write for a range of online and print publications, including the Sunday Times, the Mail & Guardian and and was formerly the arts editor of the SA Jewish Report, a weekly newspaper with which I was associated for 16 years.
Robyn Sassen


VISUAL tricks and wooden pegs: ‘Protective Thoughts’, a work by Usha Seejarim, made of pegs and wire. Photograph courtesy smac Gallery.

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IT’S EASY TO take a broom, a peg or an iron for granted in the daily conflagration of things that constitutes life itself. It’s about the daily grind of keeping dirt at bay as much as it is about presenting yourself in public, to say nothing of domesticity and all the baggage it implies. Contemporary South African artist Usha Seejarim is well known and respected for the meticulous visual essays on ordinary objects that she has conjured up over the years. Transgressing Power lifts her work, its accessibility, readability and sheer beauty into a new vein.

This exhibition of just 14 works is elegant as it is legible and tight, and it conveys the splendid truths of one-liner art without stooping to intellectual easiness. You can see these works – indeed this whole exhibition – with ease and rapidity, but you remain robustly haunted by its…

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