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Room in the rain (2019)

Oil on canvas, 107 x 157, 5 cm

Room in the rain is a painting of an illegal diamond miner's (now called artisanal miner) mining site on a tailing dump of Petra Mines at Colville, Kimberley, Northern Cape. The painting is an outcome of the Eureka Project, a project where the artist and the societal health medical specialist, Dr. Andre Rose research the social determinations * of the mining communities in the Northern Cape. At the Colville suburb, heaps of sifted soil are covered with old and withered carpets, blankets or bedspreads. These coverings not only identify a miners' site of work, but prevent sifted soil to be blown away by wind or dispersed by water when and if it rains. Artisanal diamond mining techniques are time-consuming and miners work at specific sites for a long period. The limestone is the most observant indication that mining has taken place as the limestone only appears when deeper layers of soil have been excavated. These coverings give the Collville tailing site a magic quality reminiscent of magic carpets, eliciting a wonder about the site itself, to whom these coverings all belong or belonged to, and, or whether any diamonds are hidden underneath in the soil and. if it will eventually be discovered.

Artisanal diamond miners are mostly South Africans citizens that migrated from smaller towns to Kimberley in search of employment and found none. One of the difficult challenges of representing the desperate situation of artisanal miners is that general ethicism may determine that images of miners may only be exhibited if consent is given. Even if consent is given, there is no surety that the artist can predict where, when and in what contexts a work will be exhibited, while the miner may also struggle to anticipate any consequences of such artmaking and the exhibition contexts thereafter. But, how can the story of the miners be told? Thus, the challenge was to depict social determinants in a complex and unforeseen manner. The design elements of the covering and the way it became folded recalled James Elkins' (1999) argument "that in every picture there is a picture of the body". Thus, I have explored a BioArt characteristic by visually elucidating bodily and molecular elements to suggest human presence. The pattern on the covering became reminiscent of DNA strands while the cracks in the soil conversed as DNA structure diagrams. DNA's double helix also demonstrates the base pairing on which the genetic information of all living organisms is restored and copied. Room in the Rain explore contradictions, because just as DNA may be misused in unethical DNA testing, the double helix also reminds us of the metaphor of the thinking body within the body as an original domesticated place or room, which sustains the primordial home or hearth as a gateway to return to. Artisanal miners are subjected to abject poverty and extreme arid conditions, but a miner's site also becomes a room, a place of dwelling. In spite of the dire situation, there is a humanity amongst miners which counteracts stereotypical perceptions of zamas, and, which opposes the wealth and opulence associated with hyper-capitalism and global mining companies. To give good attribution and respect to the miner and its dwelling, the painting has been painted with oil paint. The Collville site is represented during the advent of a scarce rain-shower in the drought-ridden Northern Cape. Rain itself are used opposingly. In the English phrase. "It never rains, but it pours", meaning harsh misfortune follows in rapid succession, while rain in San (!khwa) and Sotho-Tswana culture and mythmaking ("man is born from the waterhole") itself becomes lifegiving. Thus, the painting deals with all these contradictions, fortune-misfortune, wealth-poverty, aridity and plentitude (veriditas). and most of all impoverished ideologies against the upholding of humanity through primordial knowledge systems. Bonding (and disbonding) processes are already determined on molecular level, the Room in the rain is an imaginative prospecting of the overcoming of opposites through the abundance associated with meta-envisioning.

*The World Health Organization defines the social determinants of societal health are the conditions in which humans live and work. People's circumstances are influenced by the distribution of money, power and resources at local and global levels. These social conditions often determines inequity and the avoidable and unavoidable differences in societies. https://www.who.int/social_determinants/sdh_definition/en/

Thresholds: Eureka