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Saturday, October 22, 2011


Swiss visual artist Celia Sidler has engaged deeply with the characteristics and contradictions of South African society to produce two new exciting and individual works which are currently exhibited at artSPACEdurban.

Add Hope and You Can Trust Always pose questions about the inequitable relationship between the country’s rich and poor in the context of consumption.

In South Africa as part of Pro Helvetia Cape Town’s artist-in-residence programme, Sidler has engaged deeply with the characteristics and contradictions of South African society to produce these works. Both pieces pose questions about social, political and economic in/dependence and the disproportionate relations between the wealthy and the impoverished in the country.

Add Hope features five identical white-painted plaster models of a warehouse presented on the kind of table stand one might find at a local market. There are also trestles and a table top constructed from a pallet. Images of mass production and mass consumption are juxtaposed with signifiers of the informal economy and those who do not have access to the tools of big business. The title itself is a reference to the inherent contradictions of highly profitable corporations who marginalise small business while investing incorporate social responsibility initiatives to clear their conscience.

You Can Trust Always explores the domain of advertising and publicity. It is presented as the cover of an ad brochure for the retailer Shoprite, possibly the largest discount store chain in South Africa. In this work Sidler is interested in the language of marketing and promotion: “Lower prices you can trust always”, goes the slogan. Themes of confidence and manipulation emerge in this work as the artist again interrogates the gap between rich and poor, and the social and economic forces that influence and restrict the latter group’s consumption.

These new works are a natural extension of Sidler’s past works, which focus on the aesthetics and influences of the food and publicity industries. The effects of globalisation on local markets and the role of publicity in influencing consumption are ever-present in her work, though her attention to the South African social context provides her with fertile ground to explore these issues from new perspectives.

Add Hope and You Can Trust Always runs at artSPACE in Durban until November 5. For more information about the artist and the exhibition, visit

artSPACE durban is situated at 3 Millar Road (off Umgeni Road) close to the Waste Centre. More information on 031 312 0793 or visit or