The works in Lien Botha's 'Amendment' present as a formal, stately progression: 14 uniform photographic triptychs on the wall of Erdmann Contemporary, leading from one to the other to make up a visual poem. Each presents a somewhat hazy landscape on the left, as if seen on a blisteringly hot day or in winter's snow; and on the right an object, small and domestic, having the air of a memento or cherished souvenir. Wedged between these two square opposites a slim photograph that appears to be a detail or close up of some other object or material, from porcelain, to twine, or text in a book. Each is titled sequentially Amendment 1
to Amendment 14
and then further subtitled, each in the form the case of the...
A mystery indeed. Lien Botha has provided the visitor with a piece of text that offers a few clues but no easy solution. It concludes: 'It is possible that the work is a metonymic reflection of our genesis: murmurings lost to fractured atonement. But then again, it is also possible that these are just 14 pages from a personal chronicle.' Perhaps more helpfully this text also tells us that Amendment 8: the case of the drowning river references Ingrid Jonker and Virginia Woolf, two writers who took their own lives by drowning.
I went to the walkabout hoping to have it all explained to me. Alas, along with what seemed like hundreds of others (mostly students) the artist was holding her cards quite close, having us play out another guessing game in what she called 'three acts'.
So I am going to stop guessing, at least for the moment, and simply look. Maybe that's what the artist had in mind after all.