Panga Management loves the smell of Irony in the morning. The thing about irony is, ironically it’s created visually all the time, often without intention and PM might be wrong here, but more often than not, it goes unrecognised.
PM spent I fabulously ironic day at the Durban botanical gardens over the Christmas period. The gravitas of lush foliage, and the thick bounce of grass under foot, escorted PM to the Charles & Mabel James Tea Garden (opened 1968) where PM was served by deaf, well-preserved like marmalade (bitter and sweetish) grannies. It was at the tea garden that PM was ambushed by an arsenal of large, bloodsucking bitch mosquitos, whilst ruminating over the Irony that is KZN’s reborn -bible -belt and the botanical garden’s nativity scene.
The nativity scene along with some very clever, tropical Christmas tree designs, and a bad ( like you have never seen such heinous ) mix tape of public sculptures, dressed the gardens in such a haphazard curatorial way, that it made the renaming of Durban streets, look like the most well thought out logistical intervention since the coming of Christ.
The Irony lurked in the tepid pond of circumstance that is contemporary KZN. First the most conceptual interesting and well articulated piece of “art/ sculpture” in the gardens (bar one which PM will come back to later) was not intended to be an artwork at all. Enter: The Naivety Scene. This intervention, which PM doubts was intended as a tongue in cheek take on gender dynamic in the bible, was in fact, exactly that. A menagerie of 80’s plastic mannequins dressed like Mary, Joseph and the three wise men, gathered around the manger where a demonic looking plastic doll lay sacrificed on the hay.
The mannequins -all female, complete with red lip-stiffy peaking through the wig/weave that had been applied to their faces, in a unsuccessful attempt to create bearded manliness . And just like that! In one foul and fabulous stroke of genius, Joseph and the three wise men had just become the most famous trannies AD. The angel Gabriel blows a vuvuzela into Mary’s ear proclaiming “skattie what are you wearing!” whereby Mary’s face shows the shock of being informed that the blue ensemble is so circa BC and makes her ass look fat. You got it, the naivety scene was unselfconsciously and to PM mind, unintentionally camp as Christmas. PM loved it, and Panga Management decreed, that from that moment onwards, the installation would be called Tropical Trannies Do Christmas.
Now PM is not complaining, but PM had to wonder about the lack of outcry from the re-born Christian trenches. Do KZN reborns have a great sense of humour? Are they really tolerant in their beliefs? Cause trannies giving baby Jesus frankincense and mere, would be considered counter doctrine… of that PM is sure. Unfortunately PM does not think that its tolerance that is oozing forth , more likely a sever dose of visual illiteracy.
Following that train of thought (visual illiteracy). The sculptures in the garden where so hideous , PM finds even the thought of them tiresome and hence won’t go into detail, but before PM signs off PM has to mention at least one so you get the picture. This multiple array of heinous was found in “Garden of the Senses” opened by the then minister of environment affairs and tourism Mr Mohammed Vali Moosa. Fortunately for the artist, their name could not be found by PM, who was forced to rename the area “Garden of no sensibility”. Have a look at the car crash, image below. There is a harp covered with lilies , not noticeable in the photo (PM thinks they are lilies, or maybe they are vaginas, which would certainly make it more interesting, but no, PM is sticking with the lily option) There is a chilli, a ball/onion looking thing, that could perhaps be bulb ?!? Who knows… and the crowning atrocity is a cartoon face thingy with a broken/bended ear. PM certainly wanted to bend the ear of whomever was responsible for forcing this on the public.
The final artwork PM is going to draw your attention to is by far one of the most interesting public sculptures PM has seen. The irony here, is that this sophisticated satirical work, the best in the bunch by light years had no title, and no artist name that PM could find. It also looks it such a poor condition-badly in need of restoration. Panga Management would really like to know who made this work. If you have any ideas please credit the artist in the comment section.