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Big names – small editions

As part of our new and improved website, we’re launching a 50ty/50ty collection called Special Projects, to showcase some very particular interests of ours. Think big names, bigger ideas, large scale and small editions. With Special Projects, we get to push the limits of the art of screen print and of creative collaboration. And also, occasionally, the limits of sanity.

To launch this collection officially, we bring you Tolerant Reason by Conrad Botes. This is Botes’ third 50ty/50ty collaboration and second Special Project with us; it follows his enormous 28 square meter mural, The Goliath Protocol (a 10-month collaboration between Botes, Spier Arts Trust, Woven Ceramics and us), as well as his sold-out limited edition, Young Haddock.

With its massive dimensions of 1.1 x 1.5m, this Special Project by Conrad Botes is four times the size of our standard 50ty/50ty Editions. What’s more, it’s limited to just 6 prints, making it a very special edition indeed.
In describing his practice, Botes explains that he exploits the system of allegory – that his work is not intended to elicit a direct or “correct” interpretation, but rather to encourage the viewer to locate their own position and derive their own meaning. He does, however, make use of recurring symbols that offer what he calls “clues” as to possible meaning, as he explains below:

“I often make use of animals as metaphors in my work as I find it a suitable entry point in the allegories I am working with. … The use of the gorilla as a metaphor in my allegorical work dates back to 2007 … [and] is a signifier for compassion and the potential for empathy.”

In this particular work, another “clue” is found in the screen print’s title, taken from Slavoj Žižek’s essay, The Antinomies of Tolerant Reason. In his text, Žižek argues that in our globalised world, the concept of tolerance is logically impossible and has been corrupted to the point that it acts as a guise for ideological intolerance, resulting in strange parallels between Western liberalism and religious fundamentalism.

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