Michael Dango on the art of Igshaan Adams
, 2022-06-01 10:12:39,
THE SECOND OF TWO GALLERIES in Igshaan Adams’s solo exhibition “Desire Lines,” currently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago, contains a tapestry that would appear somewhat conventional, at least compared with the sculptural tangles of rope and gossamer clouds installed nearby. Across a vertical grid of white cords, Adams has woven an assortment of cotton strips, skeins of nylon, wires. The colors are muted sienna and moss, parcels of earth tones, save for the stray flash of turquoise or glint of stone, bone, plastic, or glass beads. Cutting across the tapestry is a bright, elongated X woven in golden chains.
The intersecting chains are examples of the desire lines of the show’s title: pathways gradually imprinted by pedestrian traffic across unsanctioned territories or along unofficial routes. This particular set, Adams informs us in one of the labels he has written to accompany the twenty works on display, derives from a Google Maps satellite view of an unused plot of land in Bonteheuwel, the township in Cape Town where the artist was born in 1982. Bonteheuwel was created in the 1960s to absorb the population designated “Coloured”—neither “white” nor “native”—by the apartheid-era Group Areas Act. The artist explains that “Bonteheuwel is often discussed in the South African media, but always in terms of death and gangs and as a dangerous place,” and yet the X itself is “evidence that people are willing to go against…
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