Strangers in G-strings

Downtown Johannesburg and the makeshift studio on the third floor of the Carlton Hotel teems with squirming bodies.

I am still getting used to the idea of hanging out in a room full of strangers wearing nothing but g-strings and layers of paint. But, even through the flesh and billowing smoke and visibly frayed nerves, it is hard to miss Brendan van den Berg’s model – a tall, muscular queen decked in latex, oozing techno-trash.

Van den Bergh’s entry in the 1997 Flight of Fantasy body painting competition was inspired, I learn, by the electronically funked-up sounds of Native America on the CD Sacred Spirit.

The artist set out to work with the idea of Western civilization (particularly America) and how it steadily manipulates and colonises its indigenous cultures. His end result is titled Evoking the Spirit: kind of part cyberborg part “man-who-runs-with-the-wolves”.

A spiky crown and silver body sport a virtual junkyard of dead technology. Microwave fans and circuitry define the body’s left side. The right remains naked, capped only by a crown of flowing locks. In a world where piercing and tattoos are like second skin, it makes sense to drag the art out of its frame and make designs on a body canvas. Plus it fits the artist’s theme of disposable culture. You get to wash it all off the next day.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories


Subscribers only

How smuggled gold destined for Dubai or Singapore has links...

Three Malagasy citizens were apprehended at OR Tambo International airport, but now the trail is found to connect to France and Mali

How lottery execs received dubious payments through a private company

The National Lottery Commission is being investigated by the SIU for alleged corruption and maladministration, including suspicious payments made to senior NLC employees between 2016 and 2017

More top stories

R2.3bn VBS trial expected to only begin in 2022

The state is expected to request a 16 week-long trial, as delays stymie progress in the saga.

Spy boss tells how agency was used to detain Zuma’s...

Day two of State Security Agency testimony at the Zondo commission birthed more revelations that point to the former head of state and agents breaking the law

Covax will take excess doses of Covid vaccines off the...

The global initiative plans to deliver two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to developing nations

Eastern Cape citizens don’t have to visit the labour department...

This measure, aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19, may shortly be introduced in other regions.

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…