Tuesday, January 12, 2010


"Collateral" - oil on canvas, by Hermann Niebuhr.

For the story behind the painting ...

"Collateral" is a cityscape portraying Joburg's skyline as seen from a Hillbrow rooftop.

The main shift from reality is that all corporate branding has been stripped from the buildings, returning the structures to their original forms. Rather than merely romanticising the architecture, however, the removal of branding re-claims the scene as a cultural space.

Taking that re-claiming one step further, a new label has been assigned: "collateral".

This financial transaction term invites the viewer to ask, What is being traded? What is being offered, and in exchange for what?

The introduction of text opens up a mental zone which operates alongside and within the visual zone of the image. A kind of poetry re-brands the view.

And while the nearly monochromatic, depopulated cityscape suggests an apocalyptic moment, the burgeoning clouds and the late-afternoon sunlight offer some visual relief as well as a reminder of balancing, cycles, and continuity.

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