• 20 January 2021 - 30 January 2021
  • Main Gallery, Mezzanine Gallery

2020 will go down in history as one of the most difficult years in modern history. The outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, in the latter part of 2019 soon spread across the globe in the months that followed, leaving in its path mayhem, sorrow and a deep-seated sense of uncertainty about the future. The impact of this pandemic on what has thus far been considered as ‘modern life as we knew it’ is such that nothing is the same as it was before. In fact, as the pandemic still ravages on with no end in sight, it seems as though nothing will ever be as it was before. The most valuable of the litany of things COVID-19 destroys is human life. In addition to this it is desecrating global economies and by doing so, shattering people’s livelihoods. A countless number of what, hitherto, has been modern society’s key socio-cultural institutions have either been partially destroyed or totally wiped out of existence. 

Among such institutions are: places of worship, entertainment, institutions of learning, and especially, art galleries and museums. COVID-19 forced all of us to sincerely examine the value of each of these institutions in our lives. The ‘hard lockdown’ phenomenon which came into effect as an attempt by governments to drastically curb the spread of the virus across all the affected nations has often been based on one simple criterion i.e. ‘only essential services will open’. As harsh as this may be, this criterion meant the visual arts sector, particularly Fine Arts, had to confront the painful realisation of being regarded as ‘not essential’. 

For art students and educators at the Durban University of Technology, Fine Arts’ programme – as would be the case in other institutions too, this painful realisation meant some serious soul searching needs to happen regarding the question of what ought to be the role and value of what we do in the new world brought about by the advent of COVID-19. In view of this fact, it is understandable why some students and staff, during these trying times, may even have doubted whether their career choice was the right one. We live in unpredictable and precarious times, reflecting on one’s own life and choices in such times is not uncommon. We live in times in which our natural impulse to get up and go to work in the studio, unfortunately, has to be carefully weighed in relation to the question of safety since such a normal undertaking could so easily become a matter of life and death. It is in that context that the DUT Fine Art & Jewellery Design Department’s students, with the guidance of their academic staff and the support of their technicians, managed to produce the work that now constitutes our 2020 graduate show titled Complacency-20

This exhibition can be viewed by appointment only.

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