In Camera Cape Town

Posted: January 14, 2008
In Camera

Following the success of the Johannesburg exhibition of In Camera last year, the installation comes to the Goodman Gallery Cape Town. Martin Sims of Blue Cow designed and installed the technology behind the installation.

The exhibition runs from  Saturday 12 January until Saturday 2 February 2008  at the Goodman Gallery Cape, 3rd Floor Fairweather House, 176 Sir Lowry Road,  Woodstock


Artist, author, editor, curator, collaborator extraordinaire and currently senior lecturer in the Department of Art at Stellenbosch University, Kathryn Smith has established a reputation as an artist with a fascination for forensic investigation and an interest in crimes of passion and the rhetoric of evil.
In June 2007 Smith was amongst 6 international artists and a critic invited to participate in the residency program, exhibition and presentation at the iCommons Summit in Dubrovnik, Croatia, for which they produced and workshoped both physical and virtual work engaging with fair use, copyright, re-mixing, piracy and/or collaboration.

In camera ('in private' or 'in secret') refers to legal testimony heard in private chambers instead of in open court, usually when reliving the experience of a violent and traumatic event through verbal narration would be aggravated by having to do this in public.

For her first solo exhibition in Cape Town since 'Euphemism', the Standard Bank Young Artist Award exhibition at Iziko South African National Gallery in 2005, Smith sets up a controlled, immersive environment of light, sound, drawing and photography. Material for the drawings was sourced from a range of print and online media and processed so as to blur the distinction between the handmade and the mass-produced. The portrait subjects are the victims and perpetrators of violent acts, the circumstances of which remain almost incomprehensible in their extremity, even if the facts informing tabloid revelations of these cruel private desires are known. There is a particular focus on violence done to, and by, children.

Smith states: "I am particularly interested in how, through repetitive media circulation, certain photographic images get detached from their subjects and the representation of a person becomes emblematic of 'victimhood', 'the missing', 'monstrosity' or 'evil'. This kind of rhetoric functions as a means to situate perpetrators of violence outside the realm of human behaviour and does not allow us to dwell on the particular human and social circumstances of each violent interaction."

The drawings are done with brush, paper, acrylic and ultraviolet-sensitive inks invisible to the naked eye. The lighting design, set to a computerized timing schedule creating apparently random intermittent phases of blacklight exposure, complete darkness and ambient light, inverts the camera's function of an open shutter where a light-sensitive surface is exposed, and a dark state where nothing is captured nor visible.

In setting up a relationship between the spectrum and the spectral, disruption, revelation and obfuscation, In Camera is a project about ghosts and mental afterimages, an attempt to reclaim that which eludes cognitive and emotional capture and retention.

For more information or exhibition documentation contact Goodman Gallery Cape on +27 21 462.7573 or