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Nobody ever said Joburg is picture perfect, but that’s cool


Nobody ever said Joburg is picture perfect, but that’s cool

Husband-and-wife design duo Dokter and Misses on disorder, decay and the themes behind their new show

Mila Crewe-Brown

Practically Everywhere is award-winning design studio Dokter and Misses’ first solo exhibition with Southern Guild in Cape Town. Opened recently, the show is husband-and-wife duo Katy Taplin and Adriaan Hugo’s expression of the sounds, smells, noises, sights and experiences of urban life in Joburg.
“Our main aim was to communicate a feeling of oversaturation, overexposure and of being surrounded; interacting with, consuming and pushing against everything, practically everywhere. Good and bad,” Hugo said.
At what point did that oversaturation become the makings of a new exhibition?
Taplin: When considering what to draw on for our show, we felt quite overwhelmed as to where to look and what to do or say. At the time, we were consumed with a very technical, large-scale project. The performance anxiety of a prospective solo show, coupled with being oversaturated by daily digital inputs, amplified this feeling and so we decided to make work that looked like how we felt, drawing on our immediate environment and daily life. Making it became a sort of therapy for us.
Hugo: This show is not a commentary. It is a very personal and maybe self-involved expression. It’s like replying to a WhatsApp message that our surroundings sent us, with emojis.
Describe the disorder of a typical day …
Hugo: Our day starts with looking at e-mails and other internet distractions as we navigate getting out of bed. Reversing out of the driveway, listening to the news. Approaching our first dysfunctional T-junction, we navigate around running scholars, past the overgrown graveyard that looks like it’s missing some teeth, parts of its metal fence carried away and recycled. We kind of stop at the red light, deciding whether red is the new orange. Being diverted off the highway, we get sandwiched next to an armoured dinosaur carrying cash.
Seven minutes until the day begins. Moving forward, moving, moving. Mounds, piles, hills of tyres, palettes and plastic bottles wait anxiously to be utilised for the last drop of oil. Fires cooking up electronics to get to the juicy copper. We are greeted by shards of last night’s party at our gate, ready to devour our tyres for breakfast. “Home.” Inside, we switch on the light. Work, work, work, work. Teatime. Step outside to hunt for that nutritional need of the body … chips or chocolate. At midday, the wind changes … slowly the stunting smell of burning cables creeps into the building.
What did the design journey involve for a piece like Rat Trap?
Taplin: The process was both premeditated and organic. For Rat Trap, Adriaan drew the shape and sorted out the proportions and technical details. We decided to cover it with spikes and initially planned for it to be black and white. It looked amazing in raw steel, but also very aggressive and, after painting it all white, I decided that it needed to be colourful. It needed to be all over the place – both pop and punk at the same time.
What inspired Not My Problem?
Hugo: The show as a whole was inspired by Tramp Art. But this cabinet shows this inspiration most effectively with the layering of the spikes. The explosion/fire graphic was inspired by hand-painted signage around our workshop. Conceptually, one of the themes this piece deals with is consumption and throw-away culture.
Would you define these pieces as art, sculpture or furniture?
Hugo: They’d be best described as functional art. They’re rooted in function but explore themes, surface detailing and forms that are not governed by it.
What do you hope the public will experience when interacting with the new collection?
Taplin: We’re not trying to make any statements; we’re just processing inputs that result in, what we hope to be, pieces that reach out to the viewer and tickle them.
Hugo: Joy and confusion at the same time.
• ‘Practically Everywhere’ runs until May 8 at Southern Guild, Cape Town.

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