With her collection of 26 handmade vases Lasers in the Jungle, artist Lucinda Mudge casts a satirical light on the subjects of beauty, wealth and fear in a South African context.
She puts together collages on contemporary life in the country, using numerous elements of regional and global popular culture such as cartoons, tattoos, poems and song texts. The blue vase Doors.Locked. features a checklist-like label with terms such as Doors.Locked. / Walkie Talkie. On / Beams. On / Phone. Near Bed / Ok Good Night / ? According to Mudge, the piece echoes the still watches of the night, highlighting evening security precautions that are routinely followed in some areas of South Africa due to the high crime rate. In exactly the same way, the How alive are you? vase directly refers to South Africa’s fight for survival. Firstly, in the very real threat to physical safety that is tangible in many daily life situations, in a country with one of the world’s highest homicide and rape rates. Secondly, the artist criticizes how the piece’s title question – first used in a Ferrari advertisement – ultimately reveals the arrogant attitude of the elite that is able to protect itself from threats behind barbed wire and high walls, unlike most of the population, which must deal with violence on a daily basis. Without trivializing the issue, Mudge asks herself, too, whether or not it is this precarious existence that enlivens the people of South Africa more than would be possible in the security of Europe or North America.