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UNIFORM | A PERSONAL COLLECTION
10 DECEMBER 2016 - 12 MAY 2017
Uniform is a selection of photographs from our personal collection. The exhibition
features a wide variety of images, ranging from vintage Billy Monk and Roger Ballen,
to emerging talent, Kyle Weeks and Nobukho Nqaba.
Exaggerating differences, exerting authority, creating divisions, are all terms and
conditions that fit within the precepts of the uniform.
Communicating effectively in abbreviation, the uniform expounds on complex
ideologies, intentions, and affiliations at a glance. Outsourcing concepts about
value, stature, and allegiance, uniforms retain associations to ideologies long after
they are no longer in use, even when an organization has disbanded.
In its arbitration between policies and politics, a uniform classifies the wearer and
curates the visual imperatives for the onlooker. As much as it classifies, it declassifies.
By crating employees into convenient compartments, mandatory corporate attire
helps companies to homogenize their staff, playing-down cultures that might not
work for their image - thus feeding their clients small carefully crafted pellets
Creating a locality without needing a headquarters, the uniform holds the wearer
in a position that stops fragmentation - a framework to which the wearer feels a
convenient sense of belonging, kinship, mental and moral proximity. The uniform
becomes the placeholder and a mapping of the mind - plotting a focus that inhibits
curiosity beyond its confederacy and in some instances is a form of censorship.
Beyond organizational apparel, fashion and branding have become equally adept at
purveying a personal ethos, where an accessory such as a shopping bag or a branded
pair of shoes can speak volumes about the person wearing them.
Walking through a shady forest, a boy scout may feel afraid, yet these fears are
more easily ignored because of his allegiance to his group. The uniform and its
precepts becomes a mental straight jacket, where he no longer responds based on
instinct, but chooses instead, to uphold and protect the ideals and projects of the
collective over his own discomfort.
In the case of war and civil unrest, civilians tolerate a man holding a gun in their
presence only if he is wearing the uniform of a country or a cause. Announcing
the wearers intention to protect and kill - it is a war correspondent with a powerful
message, as much as it is pacifying so it is aggressive and intimidating.
For South African’s under the Apartheid regime, differentiations were a matter of
skin. Uniform examines the evolving visual dialects of formal and informal uniforms.
The works span over five decades, reflecting on the ethos and the intentions of the
state, corporates, and civilians of the times.