Category: Cinema

Cape Town-based cult artist Manfred Zylla will be keeping things fierce at this year’s National Arts Festival, with the launch of a new book of hard-hitting images that pays homage to the final film of the late, distinguished Italian director, Pier Paulo Pasolini. Lewd, crude and packed with fervid social and political critique, Zylla’s book, 120 Days of Sodom, will be launched in Grahamstown on Friday, hot on the heels of recent launches in Munich and Rome.

In the 1980s, German-born Zylla became known for hard-hitting drawings that critiqued the brutality and violence of apartheid. His 120 Days of Sodom paintings had their genesis in 2012 with aimage pack of paper. It is a non-sequential series, with each painting presented within the frame of a television screen, accompanied in the book by commentary from a transnational mix of renegade voices – including Aryan Kaganof, Nomusa Makhubu, Andrea Dicó and Ashraf Jamal.

The book launch – which takes place on Friday, 3 July at 5.30pm at Grotto Mojito, corner of Somerset and High Streets – will also be accompanied by an exhibition of Zylla’s latest series of drawings, Waiting For… in which he interprets Pasolini’s instructions, in his directors’ notes and anecdotes, to his cast and crew.

An Italian socialist polymath and player of the ideological wildcard, Pasolini was a powerful figure in European art until he was murdered in 1975, when he was run over repeatedly with his own Alfa Romeo by a young hustler. His controversial status lasts to this day. The launch will be accompanied by a special Pasolini focus as part of this year’s Film Festival. He, however, is not for the faint hearted, so if you’re squeamish, bring along your blindfold and gag bag, and prepare for a full visual buffet of lust, sin and carnal depravity.

Zylla’s gallerist Heidi Erdmann, of Erdmann Contemporary, says that the book is the result of a great investment of time. “Manfred and I met each Saturday,” Erdmann recalls. “It took four months before we even settled on a basic structure.” Eventually, Erdmann explains, “we took the thread of cinema and invited the various contributors. The idea was to focus on the contemporaneity of three main influences, Pasolini, Dante and De Sade.”

“Both Zylla and I did not want just another art book,” Erdmann continues, “So we focused on very different kinds of voices. I asked a student, a commercial diamond diver, an actor, [as well as] academics, journalists, poets, filmmakers, friends and colleagues. Producing this book has been one of those projects where everything just fell into place.”

One of the book’s most original features is its transnational spirit and multilingual text. Zylla’s 120 Days of Sodom is printed in a limited edition of 350 copies, and retails for R1500 per copy. As Grahamstown is the book’s first South African launch, it will be sold on launch night at a special price of R1000, for a signed copy.

Apart from the launch, Zylla will also be participating in a panel discussion on Tuesday, 7 July, as part of Think!Fest’s special focus on Secrecy and Surveillance, in which he will examine the position of ‘art’ as a method of resistance to state, religious, financial, censorial and corporate power.

Alexandra Dodd
Guest reporter

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