Jean Meeran and Sarah Ping Nie Jones

S.A. Style (Photographic prints, Size variable)

S.A. Style (Photographic prints, Size variable)

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Artist's Statement

S.A. Style reflects and refracts the myriad styles through which contemporary South Africans are expressing themselves, communicating consciously and unconsciously with each other. The central building blocks are photos of pairs of people dressed in distinctive styles, as spotted on South Africa’s streets. Each person’s style is both individual and influenced by the other. The breadth of styles serves as a metaphor for the infinity of aesthetic communications that occur between individuals, creating a society’s visual appearance and revealing deeper social currents. The photos range from the stark symmetry of identically dressed twins to pairs in personalized versions of the same style or in the styles of differing and allied subcultures, forming a kaleidoscope across age, class, occupation and culture. The photos are arranged in series, which range extensively from the primal (Mothers and Daughters; Twins and Lovers), to the social (On the Job; Jollers), to the geographic (At the Beach), to the seemingly arbitrary (Aprons). These series form a crossword puzzle of one permutation of society’s groupings, mapped out on a wall, and invite the viewer to contemplate other possible permutations. This is a metaphorical antidote to apartheid, which used the brutally limiting categories of race to group people. We show that people coalesce around an infinite number of shifting affiliations and identities. Their agency in this process is represented here by the vivacious practice of style. S.A. Style is inspired, too, by an aesthetic of the world and its people as a collection of toys and models, to be arranged into an infinity of playful groupings.

Artist's Biography

Jean Meeran: Born: Pietermaritzburg, 1973. Lives and works in Cape Town. Received his MA in Film Studies from the University of Cape Town and New York University. Studied at the Binger Film Institute Programme in Amsterdam and Johannesburg. Major exhibitions: The Castle of Good Hope, Goodman Gallery and Bell Roberts Gallery, in Cape Town; Panorama da Arte Brasileira, Alcalá, Madrid; Lyon Biennial; Paço das Artes, SãoPaulo; Durban International Film Festival; Zanzibar International Film Festival; Espaço Cultural Telemar, Rio de Janeiro; Galeria Vermelho, Sao Paulo; Katechetik, Svenska. Awards and scholarships: Transcape Biennale; NFVF; Hubert Bals Film Fund; HIVOS/ Sithengi Film Fund; Cape Town World Cinema Festival; Goteborg Film Fund; A.W. Mellon Foundation; Fulbright.
Sarah Ping Nie Jones: Born: London, 1982. Lives and works in Cape Town. Received her BA in Social and Political Science from Cambridge University and her MPhil in Diversity Studies from the University of Cape Town in 2008. Major exhibitions: Edinburgh Fringe Festival; Cambridge African Film Festival; Queens College Theatre; Cambridge University Film Festival; BBC London. Awards and scholarships: Cambridge University Film Festival; BBC London ‘Untold London’ competition.