Which Hunt? presents visceral new work in which Diane Victor grapples with South Africa’s gender-based violence epidemic and considers the complex social structures that underpin patriarchal power relations worldwide.
Victor does not claim to speak for all victims of the history of violence against women. She makes the point that the phenomenon is not new, but rather that ongoing scourge is currently being paid much greater attention. In this exhibition, Victor examines the pervasive effects of blame culture in society alongside depictions of women who have been made to bear responsibility for the abuse inflicted on them.
Deploying Victor-esque (dark) humour and characterisations drawn from real life, the artist considers universal traditions of violence against women, from the history of witch-hunts in Europe and America, to ‘corrective rape’ in South Africa today.
A drawing, titled Punching Judy, is inspired by the puppet show ‘Punch and Judy’ in which gender-based violence is trivialised. For Victor, the show is laced with a ‘horrifying absurdity’ as ‘children are encouraged to laugh at a baby being battered and a woman beaten to death.’ She seeks to expose these everyday narratives for instilling feelings of guilt and shame in men as well as women.
In her practice, Victor is renowned for boldly confronting taboo subjects and for rendering her subjects in affecting detail with masterful, mark-making across various mediums. This exhibition features etchings and lithographs, which were made during residencies in America and France last year, as well as large-scale drawings, smoke on glass and drawings made with candle smoke and ash as well as other burned materials.
Last year, Victor did three international residencies: the Helen Frankenthaler Print Residency at the Connecticut Centre for Contemporary Print (USA), Fondation Blachere Creating Residency (France) and the Cill Rialaig Residency Project (Ireland). Recent awards include the international print prize at the 2013 Guanlan International Print Biennale (China) and the Krakow Print Triennial award (2006). Her work recently featured on FUIR Exposition en Fondation Blachère Centre d’Art: Ten Artists Interrogate Exile in France.
Victor has exhibited widely in South Africa and internationally at MoMA (New York), the National Museum of Contemporary Art (Oslo) and at Yale University Art Gallery. Her work is held in collections, such as MoMA NYC, the Victoria and Albert Museum London, the Johannesburg Art Gallery, Wits Art Museum, Durban Art Gallery, Pretoria Art Museum, Iziko SA National Gallery in Cape Town and the SASOL Collection. Victor has lectured in Fine Arts at Tshwane University of Technology, the University of the Witwatersrand, Rhodes University and the University of Pretoria where she currently teaches printmaking and drawing.all images © the gallery and the artist(s)