Review: Jeannette Unite at Youngblood Gallery


Law and OreThe corrosive power of consumerism and the unearthly apocalyptic beauty of decay are the themes that frame the current show at the Youngblood Gallery.

Over nearly two decades Jeanette Unite has travelled to 25 countries, accumulating a personal archive of images and various residues which are moulded into the disturbingly evocative Law and Ore exhibition.

Titanium, strontium and metal oxides are some of the ingredients of Unite’s impressively diverse assembly of work in which geospatial diagrams and legal text are amalgamated with the often toxic detritus of the mining process.

The range and depth of her visionary spectrum is quite astonishing.  In nightmarishly illustrative essays on the industrial components of the mining industry, she summons up the deadly beauty of smelters, capacitors and convertors using hand-made pastels derived from metal wastes.  Control of resources, the violation of the earth and legal tender are the diseases that ooze out of the photographic collages of machinery standing over the forlorn and savaged soil.

The Geo-Seam series of stately triptychs – legal text, metal salts and shavings within an acrylic  emulsion – are an ironic re-modelling of ancient scripts unearthed for our jaded curiosity, echoing a barely discernable warning to future generations, relics of a poisoned order.

These quiet sentiments, etched out in the blood of the world on a canvas made of industrial debris, tear at the heart.

Jaroslav Kalac

Jeannette Unite’s exhibition, Law and Ore, runs at Youngblood Art Gallery, 40 – 42 Bree St, Cape Town, 5 to 27 February 2015.


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