Lead SALead SA

Artist Robyn Kater's inspiration ... Johannesburg and those who live in it

Written by: Rhodé Marshall

If there are ways to describe multifaceted artist Robyn Kater, then it’s probably best to start with bold.

Kater is intensely stimulated by the city of Johannesburg and the people that inhabit it. Her inspiration, Johannesburg, has led her to produce powerful work titled, Toxic Playground.

She interprets her home city, Johannesburg as the captivating and opulent space that has significantly induced her personal identity as well as her artwork.

Kater portrays Toxic Playground as a mixed media installation, made up of photography, video and found objects through - through which she explores how the Johannesburg mine dumps become palimpsests of personal memory and toxicity.

The installation consists of 100kg of sand, collected over three months from the Riverlea mine dump – which has great significance and sentiment to Kater who grew up in the community.

The 23-year-old recently graduated from Wits University with a degree in Fine Art, and says Toxic Playground is symbolic of the socio-economic and environmental issues facing the residents of Riverlea.

The work addresses the community’s concerns, she explains. This is because the city’s mine dumps have been normalised to be included in the community’s everyday landscape despite being toxic.

Kater’s art asks: “What should be done with remnants of the city’s division post-conflict, post-apartheid state? What influence do memory and remembrance of these places have on the transformation of the city’s spatial morphology (formation), identity and flows of everyday urban life?”

In her work, Kater tries to detect the connection between history, heritage, identity, displacement, and space - movingly expressing how she is “interested in the city as a living organism and how the tangible and intangible fragments meet and overlap to form a lived experience”.

She understands the city to be a complex living organism in which some areas act as relics of personal memory and of an overlying history.

Her distinctive artwork exemplifies the intense relationship Johannesburg as a city presents between space and identity.

Images from 'Toxic Playground' by Robyn Kater


This article first appeared on 702 : Artist Robyn Kater's inspiration ... Johannesburg and those who live in it




Read next from articles

Internet artist Tiger Maremela centres LGBT+ voices in new work

Internet artist Tiger Maremela centres LGBT+ voices in new work

Tiger Maremela uses the internet as a tool to make sense of the world by endlessly scrolling through the internet.
Read on...

Teacher dresses up as Wonder Woman and the kids learn to become heroes

Teacher dresses up as Wonder Woman and the kids learn to become heroes

Dressing up as her favourite comic book character brings Joburg school teacher Teri Ferreira much joy.
Read on...

CT film festival headlines women story tellers

CT film festival headlines women story tellers

The Skirts Film Festival showcases the work of women directors at the Labia Theatre.
Read on...

Photographer Kgomotso Neto showcased at 2018 New York Portfolio Review

Photographer Kgomotso Neto showcased at 2018 New York Portfolio Review

The Johannesburg photographer's work was selected out of 2 800 photographers from around the world.
Read on...

New visual series dedicated to men who cry

New visual series dedicated to men who cry

This photo series by Simphiwe “Simzphoto” Mkhwanazi is one attempt to quash the age-old belief that 'boys don't cry.
Read on...

Taz Emeran's story: breaking free through fitness

Taz Emeran's story: breaking free through fitness

Taz Emeran, a leading woman in the fitness industry, talks about her journey and how she achieved her goals.
Read on...