Room with a view
24 July 2012 | LEIGH-ANNE HUNTER
Imagine you’re an artist or designer asked to create a hotel room to reflect a specific decade between 1886 to 2006. What would you create?
Created by local artists and designers, each room in 12 Decades Johannesburg Art Hotel in Maboneng Precinct is dedicated to a specific decade.
Very much an extension of her personal work, artist Kim Lieberman once again explores the theme of connectivity between human
beings in her room, “Main Street Constellations,” dedicated to the decade 1956 to 1966.
The room chronicles and connects the proprietors of Main Street since the birth of Johannesburg city.
Lieberman sourced photographs from 1956 to 1966 for inspiration.
“I found ones that are historically relevant to South Africa – a famous photograph of Mandela boxing on the roof of a building during the treason trial, and other lesser known photos from Drum magazine archives,” she says.
“I also went through the Anglo-American archives as they are also on Main Street and found an image with builders working on the site of the now well-established building – the very beginnings of Anglo.”
She combined these figures with photographs she took that are now relevant to the new development on Main Street.
Lieberman included developer Jonathan Liebmann and William Kentridge, who have both played a large part in making the area grow and regenerate.
Taking 18 figures, she brought them into the room and onto the same plane by using their silhouettes and blood-red oil paint. She painted them in a constellation form.
“Constellations imply influence or impact on each other.
Although the figures are from different times in the life of Johannesburg, they have all been part of the city.”
The artist also used red silk thread, which stretches from one figure to another, linking them all into a lace like web. The room is mainly white.
“I believe people love staying in white rooms with white towels and white linen. It also worked with the inverted dark colour of the human constellation, so at night you can still see the figures, like stars,” she explains.
The artist describes painting
the ceiling as a Michelangelo
“They constructed scaffolding so I could lie close to the ceiling and paint carefully with my tiny, delicate paintbrush.
Dark oil paint on a very white wall is unforgiving of mistakes.
To get the figures to look like exactly who they are I had only one chance,” she says.
“The more well-known people have to look like who they are through the accuracy of the information in the silhouette. For example, William Kentridge had to look like William Kentridge, or the concept of specific people playing a specific role doesn’t work,” she maintains.
“So I lay in a precarious position on a scruffy plank of wood balanced on the scaffolding, didn’t look down, and painted horizontally.”
The Wits graduate has exhibited her work in New York, Italy, and Sydney.
In the latter exhibition, the artwork is made of the same red silk thread seen in the hotel room.
What she enjoyed most about the project was that it allowed her to get involved in the community, while still doing exactly what she does in her work.
“I liked the idea that Jonathan was looking within the limits of the precinct for artists, architects or designers to design the hotel, and to grow the precinct from the inside out,” she says.
YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN
looklocal Rosebank Killarney
looklocal Kempton Park
looklocal Randfontein Westonaria
looklocal Roodepoort Northside
looklocal Emalahleni Witbank
looklocal Tzaneen And Surrounds
looklocal Bedfordview Edenvale
looklocal Pretoria Moot
looklocal Pretoria Moot