The Body Remembers Everything

Sep 8, 2015 | Publisher: link3462 | Category: Other |  | Collection: Migrated Docs

Kai Lossgott studied journalism at Rhodes University, specialising in film, dance and physical theatre. He then did a post-grad diploma in visual arts, and a Masters in creative writing. It seems quite logical then, that the diverse strands of his many interests would be woven into the creation of his artworks. By Cecile Ludolff (Photo: Niklas Zimmer) How do nature and your environment influence your art? A large plane tree spreads its branches over the suburban cottage I live in, in what used to be the garden of the painter Irma Stern. I am aware that it is there, and I am aware that it is alive. My engravings in the living tissue of plant leaves, with a pin, typewriter and laser engraver, began with the impulse to make tangible the connection between the human nervous system and the planet's living systems. When a leaf falls from a tree and I pick it up in the street, I marvel at the complex inter-relatedness of its biology with mine. It is like opening my own body and looking into the veins in my fingers, the pores of my skin. I know without the oxygen in my blood created from sunlight by leaves like this, I would be dead. We are so closely linked with the world around us, and yet we live with such speed, stress and presumption, that we are barely able to acknowledge even the living presence of other human beings, let alone the plants and animals we co-habit with. I write and draw symbolic love poems to nature on plant leaves, because the writing of a love poem is an act of bridging loss. It is a way of coming to terms with the world we should have and could have, but which seems ever out of reach. You have studied many different areas in the arts. How do you bring it all together? It's all in the body. My studies in dance and physical theatre at Rhodes University returned my own body to me in my twenties, after ritualised learning and team sports had killed it. When I started to write poetry again, to find out what I really thought, instead of the theories I had been trained in, I again had to start with the body. It remembers everything. Everything I do comes from the expanded intelligence and rich sensory cognition of my own body. I simply cannot limit myself to being a pair of eyes or a brain. I still dance once a week with an improvisational community group. Echoes of dance find their way into the rhythms and thematic pre-occupations of my drawings, films and poems. How does your work engage with environmental issues? For my recent work Secret powers, I collected 20 previously inhabited shoes and connected them to various electric plugs. They are evenly spaced apart in a field, but not plugged into a grid, except for a single pair of men's dress shoes, which glow mysteriously from beneath with LED lights. The work is about who has power, where we get it, and how we choose to exercise it. In the context of electricity consumption, pollution and climate change, being 'unplugged' can be seen as symbolic of many global citizens' lifestyle changes towards conserving resources and curbing our carbon footprints. The nameless, faceless corporate billionaires and decision-makers have their own "secret powers", symbolised by the expensive men's shoes. Capital and privileged political connections give them the seemingly super-human ability to resist the change. They forget that we have a secret power too, the power of the majority through passive resistance, as theorised by Gandhi and proven again by the Arab Spring. The work was inspired by the worldwide Occupy Movement, which began in 2011 as a protest against the fact that global resources are controlled by one per cent of the world's population through financial markets. Coming leaf Secret Powers 032 art profile The body remembers everything



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