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The Faculty of Arts and Design recently hosted one of its Executive Dean’s Dialogue on MS Teams, titled: Sculpture in a Digital Age.

The Executive Dean’s dialogues were initiated by the former Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Design, Dr Rene Smith in 2015. This particular dialogue was facilitated by the Durban University of Technology’s Dr Dianna Lynne Moodley. The speakers were Ruzy Rusike, a curator and social activist, Dr Jonathan Okewu, an academic at the department of Visual and Creative Arts at the Federal University of Lafla in Nigeria and Jessica Bothma, South African and Durban based sculpture and a poet.

“This is the first dialogue series in 2021 and focuses on Sculpture in a Digital Age which I think is an exciting topic. The purpose of this series is to stimulate the dialogue about things that are related to the humanities, education and our changing world and especially relation to South Africa,” said DUT’s Prof Brian Pearce, Interim Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Design.

The exhibition was conceptualised to be physical at the Grahamstown Festival but because of COVID-19 it moved to online.

Explaining in depth about Azibuyele Emasisweni (Return to the source) Exhibition was Ruzy Rusike.

“We allowed for everyone to have a bone and get the feel of it, while understanding as to what the bones means to Pitika Ntuli and the spirit of the bone as well as its texture. As a curator I tried to make sure that the content was easily accessible, that is why we activated it on our Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp,” said Rusike.

Azibuyele Emasisweni, (Return to the source) is the first solo exhibition of the renowned artist and sangoma (spiritual healer) Pitika Ntuli to compromise solely of work sculptured from bone. Pitika uses bones to ‘divine the state of the nation in a season of anomie.

“We are obviously in the digital age and artists cannot afford to stay behind. Sharing of ideas have been made possible through digitalization. I want to talk about the influence of digital age on arts production. There is a liberate attempt by artists out of the norm of making a mark for themselves, this is obviously the trend these days. The internet has simplified as officials, as artists no longer have to struggle to get featured, they only need a high-resolution camera, computer and internet connectivity to do this effectively,” said Dr Okewu.

Elaborating further on the topic, Jessica Bothma, said: “We are moving into the age of inclusivity and accessibility; the artist is not an untouchable genius that has a workspace but is not present in that workspace. Now as an artist you have all the digital resources to find information. I do not believe that anything can replace the physical experience of our work, but I do not think the digital space is trying to replace but it offers alternatives to the physical experience.”

Pictured: Faculty of Arts and Design: Interim Executive Dean, Prof Brian Pearce.

Nikiwe Sukazi

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