In her latest solo exhibition, ‘Choice. Click. Bait.’, Carla Busuttil reflects on the parallel themes of growing wealth inequality and information abundance. Her work is being showcased at the Goodman Gallery Johannesburg until April 28.
Concerned with a global shift toward increasing wealth and technology-based isolation, Busuttil seeks to uncover and skewer the historic and present day foundations of this observed trend.
Taken from one of her paintings, the title ‘Choice. Click. Bait.’ refers to modern methods of delivering and receiving information. With multiple 24-hour news networks, social media, free daily papers, and the infinite expanse of the Internet, we have almost unlimited access to information about the world we live in. And each source competes for our attention.
Yet this access does not always result in clearer understanding, or a more informed outlook. The interaction between Busuttil’s painted and digital worlds forms the visual backdrop to much of ‘Choice. Click. Bait.’.
South Africa is used as a starting point for investigating the impact of increased global wealth inequality. The tendency towards societal retreat is explored in an ongoing project realised in collaboration with fellow artists, Chris Saunders and Gary Charles. Modelled around a fictional company, Mosquito Lightning, the work evokes the present-day obsession with private policing in South Africa. The project explores the realities and absurdities related to an industry many have come to accept as normal, or everyday.
“I see these companies as a device, or totem, reflecting one of our most important contemporary socioeconomic issues – inequality and the wealth gap,” says Busuttil. The project is represented in the show through installation, replete with company branding, advertising, fabricated uniforms, a website, social media, photo, video and a secured area with sentry shed and boom. The work is a result of research conducted into the private security industry; engaging with firms, undergoing training regimes, and appropriating the real-life visual language and marketing messages for their own creation, Mosquito Lightning.
In addition to present day concerns, Busuttil seeks to explore historical foundations that may serve to expand upon current debate. Through paintings and film, Busuttil directly questions the legacy of British colonial action in Africa – an unresolved debate, as evidenced recently by the emergence of the #rhodesmustfall movement. Busuttil states, “My work deals with the politics of power. The content of my work tends to reference historically charged spaces. Issues around race, gender, status and nationality are key to our understanding of how power can be used to shape and control societies.”
Through the use of masks and crude, often humorous, imagery, Busuttil seeks to neutralise the characters that appear in her work. This process allows for the distortion of identity, and the erosion of potential sources of classification.
Busuttil completed her postgraduate studies at the Royal Academy Schools, London following a degree in fine art at University of Witwatersrand.
She has held solo exhibitions in London, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Milan and Seoul.
* The Goodman Gallery is situated on 163 Jan Smuts Ave, Parkwood.
For more information and gallery hours, call 011 788 1113; or visit www.goodman-gallery.com.