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Jake Michael Singer

July 18, 2018

Jake Michael Singer is a multidisciplinary artist working predominantly with sculpture and photography. Through the interplay between these media, he reflects on chaos and catharsis especially in an African context. These surreal realities are informed by science fiction, utopia, and myth. Singer has had three solo exhibitions in Johannesburg (2016, 2017, and 2018) and one in Amsterdam (2017). He has also participated in fairs and group shows in Los Angeles, Lima, Toronto, Cape Town, Venice, Dakar, Perth, Paris, and London. His work is included in the group exhibition Alternate Perspectives curated by Matter Gallery and presented at FCP Gallery until August 24.

1. Marumo (musical group)

The eighties Afro-beat band from South Africa were part of the golden age of Mzansi funk. This genre includes the likes of Miriam Makeba and Brenda Fassie. These pioneers of Sotho Soul consisted of John Mothopeng, Munich Sibiya, Simon Falatsi, and Marks Mbuthuma, all of whom were blind. Their style is joyful and groovy like the warm smile of a best friend on a bad day.

2. Masculinity (vague abstraction)

Pieter Hugo, Azuka Adindu, Enugu, Nigeria, 2008

Quick thought experiment: If Mick Jagger started on the music scene today, would we/he consider him "queer"? But wasn't Jagger the poster boy for (hetero)masculine sexuality?
Anyways, with today's discourses around identity politics, it’s urgent that we start talking about hetero-masculinity in broader terms. Here, I'm referring to the Led Zeppelin big-brass swashbuckling kinda masculinity. I think it’s a masculine form/energy that everyone can access, should access, and does access. It’s not something that should be admonished; rather, it should be re-formed and tweaked to be more empathetic and graceful.

3. Aïda Muluneh (photographer)

Aïda Muluneh, Strength in Honor, 2016

I had the opportunity to apprentice for Aïda Muluneh as part of the Kampala Biennale 2018. The KAB18 programme, curated by Simon Njami, emphasised knowledge sharing and skill sharing between established "masters" and emerging "apprentices." Aïda is an Ethiopian photographer imagining African femininity. I believe she is an impactful image-maker who is at the forefront of Afrofuturism. She's creating images of matriarchs, mothers, visionaries, luminaries, and goddesses that are super iconic and powerful. Once seen, they cannot be forgotten. One key aspect of this apprenticeship was to see Aïda's clarity, strength, and love.

4. Métal Hurlant (publication)

A French science-fiction magazine created in the seventies, one of its creators is the well-known graphic artist Moebius. I'm always interested in seeing what people from the past were imagining about the future. Métal Hurlant seems to be the crème-de-la-crème of the intersection between futurism and the super-fukken-freaky – from mutant-baboons howling into the barren nightfall to a bourgeois café-society populated by chrome robo-sex-workers.

5. Simulation (belief system)

Have heard about Elon Musk's theory that we are living in a simulation? This is it, basically: If, some time in the future, we are going create a simulation that is indistinguishable from reality and it runs billions of different simulations of ancestral realities (which it probably will), then it’s most likely that our current reality is already one of those simulated ancestral realities.
My thoughts: it’s amazing to see how throughout history, technology has influenced ideology. Here I think of Scientology or maybe in the sixties how everyone was on the same "wavelength." Or the correlation between the birth of monotheism and the first cities, where suddenly you had hundreds of people living in one place and, in order to live in peace, everyone had to believe in the same thing. Another possible example of this is the invention of social media and wokeness.
P.S This isn't science; it’s just speculation.



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