Continuing its summer tradition of exhibiting a single work for the month of August, Marlborough Contemporary is delighted to present Ângela Ferreira’s Talk Tower for Ingrid Jonker.
Ferreira’s work might be understood as conceptual sculpture and is concerned with the legacy of colonialism in contemporary society, an investigation that is conducted through in- depth research and the distillation of ideas into resonant and material forms. Ferreira stimulates the viewer to question these histories in the encounter with her objects, which often reference modernist precedents, combined with text, photography and video.
Talk Tower for Ingrid Jonker (2012) is a structure designed for broadcasting poetry, as homage to the South African poet Ingrid Jonker (1933-1965). The work is typical of Ferreira in the way that it combines her concerns with the material consequences of modernism and how those forms evolve and change as they travel through the world. The sculpture is one of a series of towers that Ferreira began in 2008. The starting point of this project was Gustav Klutsis’ multimedia agitprop kiosks, which were designed to display newspaper, film and project sound in revolutionary Russia. This reference intersects with the image of a rudimentary radio transmission tower in rural Mozambique. It also points to the crucial history of radio during the independence and liberation wars in Africa, such as Radio Freedom in South Africa.
The towers have recently become vehicles for paying homage to literary authors. They do so through their sculptural presence while they enable the public broadcast of poetry. Talk Tower for Ingrid Jonker is a monument and tribute to the poet’s oeuvre and to her life. Jonker’s poem ‘The Child is Not Dead’ (inspired by the death of a black child, shot dead by soldiers at Nyanga) was recited by Nelson Mandela during his address at the opening of the first democratic parliament in South Africa on 24 May 1994; a remarkable testament to the power of the Afrikaner poet.
In 1965, Jonker went to the beach at Three Anchor Bay, in Cape Town, walked into the sea and committed suicide by drowning. Ferreira’s structure was originally conceived to be a tower installed on the beachfront, approximately marking the spot where she tragically died. In the final version of the project, a photograph accompanies the sculpture, marking that now unmarked spot on the beach.
The sculpture alludes directly to the form of the constructivist Shukhov radio tower built in the early 1920s near Moscow.