Eastern Cape emerging artist Sonwabiso Ngcai was revealed as the overall winner of this year’s PPC Imaginarium Awards, taking home R150,000 in cash for his sculpture entitled ‘Isigu’, or ‘The Snare’. The awards hands our over half-a-million rand in prizes across six categories – Sculpture, Industrial Design, Film, Fashion, Jewellery and Architecture – to standout entries that show innovation using PPC cement.
Overall and Sculpture category winner: Isigu by Sonwabiso Ngcai
Ngcai secured both the Sculpture category prize and the Overall Winner ranking for a thought-provoking entry which provides an analogy for how certain religious cults are ensnaring their congregants.
According to the artist’s personal views on the subject matter: “An isigu, in traditional African society, is a contraption used by young boys to hunt birds. It consists of a downward-facing bowl, with one side held open by an upright stick that has a string tied to it, with a few pieces of grain scattered underneath the bowl. Lured by the promise of food, a bird enters the area – the string is tugged, and the bird is captured. In this piece, the use of this simple but effective hunting tool is an analogy for the entrapment of people by religious cults.”
Exploitation in the name of faith
Runner-up in Sculpture category: Kenneth Shandu
“In South Africa, recent exploitation has included feeding vulnerable congregants snakes and grass, making them drink petrol, sexual abuse, bullying and victimisation – all in the name of faith,” he says. “Baited by the expectation of salvation and often seduced by promises of wealth, people are increasingly falling into religious cults. The use of concrete refers to the perceived power of faith and how congregants find strength in the Bible. The construction of the trap alludes to temporary church pop-up structures such as tents or rented buildings that appear in strategic places,” he continues.
Ngcai probes an aspect of current South African society by means of a skillfully executed visual metaphor. Other work in the Sculpture category was categorised by this same desire to interrogate the contemporary African condition. Runner-up in the Sculpture category was Durban-based artist Kenneth Shandu for a work that depicts the plight of the homeless as observed on the streets of Durban. A special commendation went to Prudence Magagula for her exploration of gender violence and sexism experienced by female mine workers.
All the winners and runners-up:
Industrial Design winner: Vertical Concrete Record Player by Jomar Dreyer
Winner: “Vertical Concrete Record Player” by Jomar Dreyer
Runner-up: “Lime Light” by Jon-Peer Bouwer
Winner: “Tribe” by Cow Mash
Runner-up: “My Mother’s Dress” by Cheryl Traub Adler
Special commendation: “Genesis 4: I Am Not the Keeper” by Itumeleng Ramakau
Winner: “Camara and the Clothing Factory” by Wian Jordaan
Runner-up: “Finding Identity Within the Grid” by Suzani van der Merwe
Architecture winner: Camara and the Clothing Factory by Wian Jordaan
Winner: “Day Zero – Reversible Pendant” by Khanya Mthethwa
Runner-up: “K3 – Keree 3” by Joani Groenewald
There was no winner or runner-up in the Film category but Nirma Madhoo received a special commendation.