WORDS Cheri Morris IMAGES courtesy of Balekane Legoabe and StateoftheART
Pretoria-based visual artist Balekane Legoabe‘s virtual exhibition WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BE IN WATER uses thought-provoking digital collage, sound art and animation to explore the relationship between hope and hopelessness.
Balekane, who is also the 2019 StateoftheART Gallery Award winner, has created an audio-visual experience with this new body of work. Although comprised of individual segments, the works are intended to be experienced as one consuming, multi-sensory collection that communicates both difficult and happy emotions, akin to the natural ebb and flow of life.
The antagonist of the series is a buck. Balekane elaborates, “The buck stands as a figure that the viewer can connect with – sort of like the antagonist in the series of artworks. The buck is the thing that represents me/the viewer. As the buck stands in the artworks, it is represented as going through the experiences of ‘what it feels like to be in water’ (the ups and downs of life). A figure that, like humans, is dependent on water for life and for survival. For me, the buck as a creature emanates simultaneous feelings of warmth and distance. The buck is warm and present because we can connect with it on the fact that it is a living mammal, like the human. But there’s a certain absence in its eyes. It just stares. It’s not complex – its eyes are almost like hollow empty shells, that’s where the distance comes in. As the viewer you feel drawn to the buck but at the same time you feel distant. The same way we simultaneously feel drawn to and distant from aspects of ourselves and our life experiences.”