If you have time to see just one art exhibition in Johannesburg the Ambiguous Group exhibition should be it. The works are a statement of generally breaking free from the obligation of being strong, that translates to the overall social navigation of the gallery space. The exhibition introduces a character of intriguing complexity of contemporary discourses; heavy legacies of cultural construction within the art world are critiqued under this all-woman exclusive show; including a production crew that is almost entirely female and the aforementioned female artists who are masters of their own identity which is a discourse in art history that will forever be worth mentioning because the implications are substantial.

The subject matter of the works is all Woman, as expected as an introspective and reflective exhibition, allowing us to view the concept of Woman from different angles. The political implication of gendering discourses in the art institution was not intentional, it just so happens to be part of the trajectory of the changing landscape in art history that also cannot be allowed to escape dialogue because its structural presence is ever present.

The collective exchange of knowledge and interaction between the artist and the audience during the opening of the exhibition provided a crucial learning point and understanding for the audience that art is produced by human beings and so is true for the art institution. The gallery becomes a crucial site to re-contextualize the experience that we want from the gallery not only aesthetically and visually but psychologically and emotionally, affirming the importance for us to realize that the space is ours to mold, instead of the space inflicting on us a societal hubris; trapping us in rules, conventions and expectations we’ve made for ourselves. The vulnerability bearing of the collective allows us to be more comfortable within the gallery space and not feel alienated which is a huge achievement because we need more people to be less intimidated by the gallery space.

The exhibition presents work that is appreciably introspective and of high quality and artistry that one can view it over and over again without getting tired, it introduces a new point of interpretation every time you go back to view. The burden of strong resolution in personal identity and politics acutely affirms the Arthouse’s conditions that make for meaningful social relations.


~ Tseleng Tshabalala