Durban artist Coral Bijoux’s The Dreams as R-evolution installation in the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Westville campus plant nursery takes you on a journey of discovery as the artist dreams as 'a r-evolutionary act'. She has worked over a gestation period of nine months in the wind, rain, sun; and exposure to all kinds of conditions. The installation takes you out of the formal gallery and invites you to engage in an artwork that is about space (access and ownership); authority and power; the SELF and the feminine; and eventually a return to innocence that is imbued with the thoughts and ideas that shape our dreams beyond this current form of existence.
Working amongst the plants and growing slips of plants in her sculptures, she draws attention to the Anthropocene. She works in a space that she has little control of - a space without doors, walls, or a roof. People, animals, insects, birds have full access with or without her permission. It is an installation for everyone – artists and scientists alike; young and old, families and friends, students and academic staff.
The Dreams as R-evolution installation is mostly rendered in discarded plastic from household and industrial bins as well as dumpsites and from the shores of Durban. The work includes sculptures, large scale drawings mounted on plastic that hang in the nursery, paintings submerged in plastic sewn to fill holes in the shade cloth, plants embedded in sculptures, walkways and photographs and sounds and smells of the nursery and surrounds of the Palmiet Reserve.
The installation is now completed, having secured a permit during lockdown level 4 as an “essential service” Bijoux proudly says, but unfortunately there are no funds for an exhibition opening or to video the installation and with current restrictions in place, only selected and authorized visitors can view ‘the dream’.
Nonetheless, a Dreams as a R-evolution artbook is in progress with contributions from poets, artists, philosophers, musicians, scientific and creative writers. The music piece, The Door of No Return speaks about slavery and freedom. To dream is about the freedom to dream. “What holds us back from dreaming in freedom”, says Bijoux, “is our inability to look closely at how we have been conditioned.”
Of special interest are the Dreams Workshops that engage both adults and youth groups encouraging them to pay attention to their dreams; how they dream and the importance of ‘feeding and watering’ these dreams. As with the installation, these processes are introduced to participants during the workshop where questioning our ability to transform ourselves forms a useful form of immersion. The workshop process though promises fun and light moments too.
The adult workshops cater for a maximum of 20 people (this is adjusted during the lockdown process and for now can be conducted online - though it's not the best way to participate) where participants engage the installation, their dreams and complete a 'dreaming process' that involves discussion. meditation, a questioning of their dreams before they write, develop and 'plant' them. This is a metaphoric process which can be deeply meaningful to those that attend.
The youth workshop is much more practical and involves discussion, a light meditation, discussion and a sculptural making process.
Coral Bijoux was born and grew up in Durban. She lived and worked in Johannesburg for about 21 years, then came back to live and work for the Wetland Park in northern KwaZulu Natal. She now resides in Durban working on various creative projects such as the Voices of Women Museum, curated exhibitions and facilitating her own artmaking. She explains: “I am dedicating this phase of my life to making my art public and addressing so many issues that I have wrestled with/experienced in my plus 31 years’ experience in many spaces across South Africa in urban, rural and township spaces.” She has returned to study and graduated with an Honours in Gender Studies, summa cum laude, UKZN and is now pursuing an interdisciplinary Masters in Art through the Drama Department.
She is working on an intimately sized edition of original Dreams as R-evolution mixed media drawings which she says "captures special moments from the 9-month process". These will be sold at affordable prices to contribute to her next body of work.
To book a workshop now or later, contact Coral on email: firstname.lastname@example.org or on +27 66 263 1570. The workshops are affordable and can be adapted on a case by case basis.
For more information, visit https://coral4art.co.za to view some of the work in progress.