Tracing a life gone awry

Turner Adams, at the centre of Gordon Clark’s latest body of work, The Outcome of Turner Adams, is an extraordinary subject. Every inch of his small frame, from his face to his penis, is tattooed and reminder of the 24 years he spent in prison.

His weathered skin, his wild hair — at times dyed a shocking orange — become one with scenes of decay, of the rust, of that which is discarded, in which he is presented.

The majority of the images are shot in the nude, but however jarring it is for the audience, Adams is completely relaxed.

Each of the images portrays different aspects of Adams — at times you feel sympathy, at others you observe him dispassionately. You may also feel interrogated by his direct and unashamed gaze. There is a look in his eyes that says “I am who I am”.

Although Clark’s previous work with the notorious kingpin gangster Ernie Lastig Solomon portrayed a search for redemption, the notion appears to have been abandoned a long time ago by Adams.

Clark states: “I did not try to cover up who he is — it is clear this is a guy who has gone on a rough journey and he is who he is. In fact, it was his idea and preference to be shot in the nude. He wanted to reveal ­everything.”.

Clark has included an image of Adams as a child in the exhibition. His sweetness and innocence — pure and untouched — is in stark contrast to who he has become. We start to understand him and empathise with a man whose home in District Six was destroyed, who was moved to the Cape Flats — a child gone rogue, arrested and jailed at the age of 15.

The behavioral pattern that we ­recognise so well is the cyclical nature of gang life.

True to Clark’s style, he takes Adams back to his childhood home and shoots him on the broken foundations of his family house. There is also a remarkable image of him with his girlfriend and mother at the locations of his family summer holidays at the sea. Nothing remains but sand and broken buildings, all that was good is gone. The decline of the locations seems to parallel his route to alienation from regular society.

As with other recent works by Clark, there are theatrical elements and at times the images have a painterly attention to detail — for example, his use of different colour palates as Adams’s hair changes from orange to brown to shaved, revealing a scalp of tattoos.

The work will be well worth viewing at this year’s FNB Jo’burg Art Fair, where the images will be presented in a large format, revealing their rich detail.

Gordon Clark is represented by the German gallery Art Co at this year’s FNB Jo’burg Art Fair

Advertisting

Workers fight job-creation ‘mess’

Former Ekurhuleni workers argued in court that a programme promising to equip them with skills simply acted as a labour broker for the municipality

Court dissolves local municipality

Landmark judgment paves the way for South Africans to use legal system to hold councils responsible

Mabuza’s ‘distant relative’ scored big

Eskom’s woes are often because of boiler problems at its power plants. R50-billion has been set aside to fix them, but some of the contracts are going to questionable entities

ANC faction gunning for Gordhan

The ambush will take place at an NEC meeting about Eskom. But the real target is Cyril Ramaphosa
Advertising

Press Releases

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Is your tertiary institution is accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Is your tertiary institution accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

VUT chancellor, Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi, dies

The university conferred the degree of Doctor of Science Honoris Causa on Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi for his outstanding leadership contributions to maths and science education development.

Innovate4AMR now in second year

SA's Team pill-Alert aims to tackle antimicrobial resistance by implementing their strategic intervention that ensures patients comply with treatment.

Medical students present solution in Geneva

Kapil Narain and Mohamed Hoosen Suleman were selected to present their strategic intervention to tackle antimicrobial resistance to an international panel of experts.