Projected Identities


Cape Town

Following its recent screening at the TATE Modern in London as part of The Film Will Always Be You – South African Artists on Screen co-curated by Abrie Fourie and Zoe Whitley, SMAC Gallery is proud to show Barend de Wet: Projected Identities.

In a world of looking and being looked at, De Wet’s video montage Projected Identities puckishly examines the role of dress and costume in constructing and projecting varied identities.

Beginning in 2013, De Wet invited friends and acquaintances to dress him up using outfits and props from the Theatre & Film Costume Workshop in Cape Town. Playing the ‘dressers-dummy’, the artist allowed the dressers free-reign with no limitations as each one created different versions of the ‘iconic’ Barend de Wet – which he then portayed in a series of portrait photographs.

These portrayals study the relationship between dress and the perception of the self and how others perceive the self, the complex relationship between the self and ‘not self’ and way that dress frames the body and serves to distinguish and connect the self and the ‘other’.

De Wet has always challenged the boundaries of clothing and the idea of the ‘persona’ – that is at once a restriction and an expression, both a true identity and a projection, both a boundary and not a boundary. Using the different garbs, De Wet has presented different images of himself as a way of questioning not only his own identity but also the stereotypes and conventions present in society’s constructs.

The video montage records the ongoing project to a point. The dressers in this series included Diana Cilliers (Wardrobe Stylist), Simpiwe Madolo (Wardrobe Assistant), Ronel Wagener (Costume Designer), Ruy Filipe (Costume Designer), David West (Fashion Designer), Arno Kruger (Sound Production) and the portraits were photographed by Juan Voges.

Projected Identities was first featured in MINE (Part III), an itinerant exhibition of South African video and performance art shown in Bordeaux, France in 2013.

De Wet is currently working on a new series of portraits dressed by (including) Skattiewhatareyouwearing, Chloë Hugo-Hamman and Beezy Bailey, and photographed by Kyle Morland.