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City Press chats to artist Justine Mahoney

2016-10-23 06:42
Justine Mahoney (Photo: City Press)

Johannesburg - Halloween is just around the corner and at Southern Guild’s latest exhibition of sculptures and collages by Justine Mahoney, some of our home-grown scary stories have been mashed up with pop icons to create a uniquely South African nightmare.

The series, called Tainted, explores the occasional horrors of South African life in bright colours and surreal figures.

Speaking to Mahoney this week, I learnt that the series, a follow-up to her first show called Innocence – also a 10-part work of sculpture – is attempting to deal with her childhood fears. “We all have to deal with this intense violence when growing up in South African society. It’s now just part of our culture, but as an adult I still haven’t dealt with many of the things that scared me.”

Mighty Ndebele, one of the sculptural works, emerged from one of Mahoney’s collages, a mighty Ndebele woman meets Mighty Mouse. “All the pieces are a fusion between African and pop culture,” Mahoney says.

“I spent my life reading comics, sitting on my nanny’s bed listening to stories of the Tokoloshe hiding under the bed and watching TV. So somewhere in my subconscious these characters have always been there.”

She says the Tokoloshe is still one of the scariest stories out there. “I would never tell my children that story. It’s too scary. The idea of the monster under your bed that could jump and grab your ankle as you go and turn off your light is just terrifying.”

Halloween is a thing in the Mahoney household, naturally. What’s the scare this year? “I might combine a witch and an astronaut, but it will probably get crazier than that.”

Tainted will run at the Southern Guild gallery in Cape Town until November 18.

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