Kendell Geers | Belgium / South Africa

Bladerunner VI, 2010

steel, razormesh
102 / 102 / 8 cm

Courtesy of Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
Stephen Friedman Gallery, London
the artist

Kendel Geers, a South African protest artist and activist familiar to us from his more provocative works of the 1980’s, once again presents a work of protest, this time intentionally more refined.

Does it reflect his outlook and opinion on the nature of protest today? Compromising and designed, intentional but fearful of expressing outwardly its full necessary force?
The razor wire, a South African invention, here finds a new aesthetic function.

No longer does it form an impenetrable screen, in Bladerunner VI (2010), the wire is confined to being coiled inside small, square steel frames. These blocks of coiled wire are threatening enough if one imagines the bloody lacerations that would be caused if one attempted to push a hand through the centre of a coil, but the work does not block one’s entire access to a space.

The nine blocks welded together function more as a handsome small sculpture than as a powerful installation. In a context outside the gallery, they could be imagined as brutal trade samples made up by a security company anxious to demonstrate the deterrent quality of its tough product.

As such, Bladerunner VI strikes up a dialogue with its formal predecessors: whereas before Geers’ installations palpably threatened and limited the body, the threat of this work is contained, as if our social endeavors to control our world have gradually diminished in efficacy.

Sue Williamson