Aesthetically one of the most successful exhibitions

1) A Bronwyn Lace title pageBred in the Bone – Bronwyn Lace

Everard Read/Circa, Cape Town

Luan Nel

Bred in the Bone is the only work officially titled in Bronwyn Lace’s current solo exhibition in Cape Town.

At first you do not notice the absence of titles but it does become more apparent by the time you view the second or third completely different work still keeping in mind the title, medium and process as the first work you encountered.

Did the artist forget to title? Did the curator perhaps loose the list of titles and went ahead regardless? Was it difficult to come up with good enough titles, hence a decision to skip that part and hope nobody notices?


Lace so consistently and directly enters the materiality and the process of each work, skipping the constricting use of naming individual works that it becomes clear that this is done on purpose. It can only be deliberate. The only title needed and nearly the first work one encounters is the stop frame animation film Bred in the Bone.

This works consists of three days’ of shooting the process of carrion beetles cleaning the carcass of a barn owl. It was filmed in the natural History Museum in Vienna in 2016. Lace assembled thousands of images of this process to provide us with one and a half minute of viewing.

What the viewer is presented eventually might seem macabre, but it reads almost like a skeleton dancing in some kind of cartoon. Bits of leg this way, then that way. All done with a lightness of attitude leaving any sense of the macabre hanging.

Upon discovering the other works on show one becomes aware that this body of work is all about processes – the processes of our time on this planet.

Lace’s work is concerned with the bigger issues of life and death and everything in between: sex, hopes and dreams. She needs no title for the work using polished bronze wishbones beautifully standing as if at attention on a sleek black polyurethane disc.2) Polished Bronze Wishbones on perspex disc

Pristine wishes proving that the absence of titles does not exclude poetics.

Every piece is planned – be it drawings in calligraphy ink or an installation of X-rays depicting DNA sequencing folded into the shape of the crane, placed on a mirror disc in the centre of the room leaving reflections on the ceiling of the gallery. Everything is considered carefully and systematically; planned meticulously.3) DNA sequences on radiograph and wax paint on mirror disc

Great attention is paid to each artwork, each action. It has been quite some time since I last saw such delicate treatment of a subject.

However, there is a sleight of hand at work that leaves no visitor morbid or forlorn. It is truly remarkable that she can elicit such a response from an audience easily offended or overly taxed with the darker sides of being.

Bronwyn Lace does not only manage, she makes it light, as it is. And beautiful.

Aesthetically one of the most successful exhibitions I have seen in a long time. Thank you Bronwyn Lace for making and Circa for hosting such beauty.

Until 19 March.