performance art South Africa

Lossgott questions being-human in solo

Beeld /  AJ Opperman |  Kai Lossgott, winner of the L’Atelier art award in 2015, in his solo exhibition questions humanity in a time in which our being-human implies that our environment is being destroyed.

Herewith human identity is also destroyed, and therefore Lossgott asks amongst other questions whether the idea of being human should possibly be redefined.

“In my artist statement I call the exhibition retro sci-fi,” says Lossgott.

“We are in a time in which die destruction of our environment means that we are destroying ourselves. In something like The Matrix there are things from the past that are now strange to us, but in sci-fi it works.  Therefore you can also see the hunter-gatherer as an ancestor for one day in the future, or a figure that can speak about the post-apocalyptic, in which scenarios of the end of the world appear daily in a newspaper.”

lees AFR  >>  Lossgott bevraagteken menswees in solo. AJ Opperman.  Beeld, 26 Mei 2017.  Johannesburg: Caxton Press.

read ENG (coming soon)  >>  Lossgott questions humanity in solo. AJ Opperman.  Beeld, 26 May 2017.  Johannesburg: Caxton Press.

anthropocene ecology contemporary art south africa

Rubbish art makes powerful statement on what it means to be human

The Times /  Layla Leiman |  The Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway was designed as an impregnable deep freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from global disasters and ensure humanity’s food supply. Last week it flooded due to permafrost melting caused by global warming.  …

It’s an uncanny coincidence that Kai Lossgott’s solo exhibition, hunter-gatherer, on at the Absa Gallery in Joburg until June 15, responds to this event and the conditions that precipitated it.

It poses the question: what does it mean to be alive in an age in which human activity is a significant determinant of environment and climate change?

read  >> Rubbish art makes powerful statement on what it means to be human. Layla Leiman.  The Times, June 2017.  Johannesburg: Caxton Press.


Inconvenient Wonders

Art Africa /  Nadine Bilong |  Cameroonian art critic & curator, Nadine Bilong, explores the curious gaze of the hunter-gatherer, survivalist aesthetics, as well as the paradox of waste as presented by performance artist, Kai Lossgott, in his work Hunter-gatherer.

“The focus on the ‘waste’ object is a way to identify and integrate the invisible in our orders of being. Even in denial and avoidance, we are permanently in relationship with these unseen invisibles that comprise of our entity. By rendering these visible, Kai Lossgott challenges us on the opacity of transparency.”

Kai Lossgott, hunter-gatherer

Kai Lossgott, hunter-gatherer, 2016. Production still from performance with wearable postconsumer plastic sculpture and found objects; 3 hrs, Schillerpromenade, Berlin. Photo: top e. v. Image courtesy of the artist.

Mind & Matter: Some South African Book-Artists’s Experiences with ‘Other’ Materials.

The New Bookbinder /  David Paton |  In the small but resilient South African book-arts community, limited resources bring out the best of alternative book-making practices.

“Lossgott engages in acts of thinking-through making, believing that it is our responsibility as makers to be accountable and ethical within the Anthropocene: the post-Industrial Revolution period during which humanity has begun to have a significant impact on the environment. ‘We have to fundamentally rethink materiality and the way in which we as subjects desire our mobility to be animated through objects. … Territory, violence and injustice prevail in the life cycle of many raw materials, especially those attractive to capitalist greed’ states Lossgott (2015).”


Features books by:  Heléne van Aswegen, Diane Victor, Kai Lossgott, Judith Mason, William Kentridge & Philip Miller
Master Bookbinders: Arthur Wadman, Johann Maree, Peter Carstens, Lunetta Bartz

Creating a Climate of Faith in Paris


Kai Lossgott, production still from the performance hunter-gatherer, 2016. Wearable post-consumer plastic sculpture and found objects, from the ‘eternal life suit’ series from ‘project carbon.’ Photograph: Dolores Bouckaert. Courtesy of the artist.

Art South Africa /  Kai Lossgott |    After the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, artist Kai Lossgott reflects on experimental communal practices, social art projects and effective mobilisation in defiance of disaster fatigue.

“On 12 December 2015, one hundred and ninety-five nations reached a landmark climate agreement on carbon emissions at COP21 in Paris. Attending alongside official negotiations, many of my fellow artists and activists were guests in Paris; from India, Bolivia, South Africa and beyond. We were there to mobilise and monitor dialogue around climate change.”

read>> Creating a Climate of Faith in Paris. Kai Lossgott. Art Africa Magazine, March 2015.

When Language Meets an Ecosystem

“witness,” by Kai Lossgott.

“witness,” by Kai Lossgott. He typed and engraved text on leaves collected in Cape Town and Johannesburg. The artist points out that our attempts at conversing with living systems often result in a scarring. In the collection of the Sylt Foundation, Johannesburg.

Denise Newman / Hazel White |  World Literature Today:

In the following essay, the authors look at poets and visual artists who use language in ways that blur the line between disciplines, with a particular emphasis on the environment.

“What happens to language when we place it in landscape? Does it admit our isolation from physical life, point to the power system faltering? Humans have named land as a means of claiming it, branding it, or romanticizing it, and when we catch ourselves at it, we may reflexively hurt or do penance in long speeches.”

“South African interdisciplinary artist Kai Lossgott types and engraves language into leaves, some the shape of his own hand, with veins, even palmate. The text “wait for me and witness / you, who wants everything now / that nothing worth waiting for / is complicated” first appeared in his monograph, talking to the tree outside my window while I sleep. The typewritten lantana leaf entitled “witness” raises the question who witnesses what, or what witnesses whom, and the potential for communication between word and living object. Through improvising the text on the leaves, it becomes more abstract as he transposes it off the page into living tissue, punched-in to the point of unreadable near-destruction. Light shines through the leaves, mounted in light-boxes. Light gave life to the living leaf by activating photosynthesis, which in turn gives us oxygen. The artist points out that our attempted intimate conversations with the planet’s living systems often leave a record in the form of scars.”

“Language, like DNA, is a code that stores memory, and the engraved leaves, which Lossgott collected in suburban Cape Town and Johannesburg, suggest perhaps a memory of a relatively recent past (in biological terms) when humans, like their evolutionary ancestors, lived in trees. What remains is something American scientist E. O. Wilson calls “biophilia,” an innate affinity with other living systems. Lossgott states in an interview with the South African curator Cecile Ludolff, ‘I write and draw symbolic love poems to nature on plant leaves, because the writing of a love poem is an act of bridging loss. It is a way of coming to terms with the world we should have and could have, but which seems ever out of reach.'”
When Language Meets an Ecosystem

Kai Lossgott scoops Barclays L’Atelier Award ’15

Lyn Holm | South African Art Times: “As artists, we often deal with other people’s perceptions of failure and success.  The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.  We have to live and work experimentally to figure out an existence that will enable our voices to be heard clearly in an overwhelming age.  I would like to think that my story could encourage other artists to be insanely brave in pursuing their dreams.  Now and in future, we will have to be smarter and more creative in how we approach the viability of surviving as contemporary cultural workers.”

Kai Lossgott, on sustainability and winning the Barclays l’Atelier Award 2015, in

Clark-Brown, Gabriel [ed].  Holm, Lyn.  Kai Lossgott scoops Barclays L’Atelier Award ’15.  The South African Art Times, August 2015.  Page 8.  Rondebosch, Cape Town:  Art Times.

Winner of the 2015 Barclays l’Atelier: Kai Lossgott

Natalie Watermeyer | Creative Feel Magazine: Kai Lossgott’s video artwork, Small and Common Matters, interrogates ‘the small, everyday violences’ perpetuated by a certain mindset, and calls attention to that which we do not see.

Small and Common Matters is a 3-minute and 13-second video comprising found objects and images. ‘I stalk images… images in which you find that moment of almost falling apart, but still holding together – which I think is an emotional quality that speaks very much of our times,’ says Lossgott. These are captured using time-lapse photography, and accompanied by soundtrack that includes fragments of a lecture about dissecting a flower.  …


Watermeyer, Natalie.  2015.  Winner of the 2015 Barclays l’Atelièr:  Kai Lossgott.  Classic Feel Magazine.  Johannesburg, South Africa.


Kai Lossgott, (2015)

New Focus

AJ Opperman | Beeld Newspaper: Kai Lossgott, overall winner of the Barclays l’Atelier art award stands at the brink of a new kind of focus, a new awareness – also as artist.  He will actually soon be packing his bags for Paris, France.
This forms part of his prize: a six-month long stay at the Cité Internationale des Arts in the French capital that includes a return ticket, R 150 000 cash and a solo exhibition in the Absa Gallery.  He won the sought-after art prize with the video installation Small and Common Matters. The video lasts three minutes and 13 seconds.

more (original article in Afrikaans)>>

more (English translation)>>

Opperman, AJ.  2015.  New Focus.  Beeld, 17 July 2015.  Johannesburg:  Caxton’s Press.