Eben Venter, skrywer, se visuele kunsdebuut

Eben Venter, skrywer, se visuele kunsdebuut
Casino, NSW, Australia.

Casino, NSW, Australia.

I love this about the Greeks. This is what I was getting at in the first place: they go as far to describe this abstinence as immorality. The excess of passivity, as they describe it, is simply immoral.
 

Oor vertaling en seksuele verkenning

Eben Venter is eerstens ’n skrywer, met die dat sy visuele kunsdebuut Translate yourself, bestaande uit 49 foto’s, elk met ’n uittreksel van sy boek Green as the Sky is Blue gepaard gaan. Vertaling, sowel as seksuele verkenning, is aan die kern. Die uitstalling is aangebied by die 2019 February Lectures-konferensie, Queer Visualities: African Perpsectives, Other Perspectives by die Noordwes-Universiteit, van 27 Februarie tot 1 Maart, in Potchefstroom.

Die Engelse boek is ook in Afrikaans gepubliseer as Groen soos die hemel daarbo. Die boek is eers in Engels geskryf, toe deur die skrywer self in Afrikaans vertaal. Die Afrikaans het daarna weer ’n invloed op die Engelse teks gehad. Die Afrikaanse boek is in 2017 deur Tafelberg uitgegee en die Engelse in 2018 deur Penguin Random House.

In sy kunstenaarsverklaring van hierdie uitstalling vertel die skrywer dat die eerste aangetekende gebruik van die term “translate” in die jaar 1300 is, met die voorsetsel “trans” wat daarna verwys om oor of deur iets te gaan. Die medium wat oorgesteek word in hierdie geval is taal, skryf Eben, wat die storie na die “ander kant” neem – die storie word van een taal na die ander geskuif.

“This is the business of my translation too: using the features of language, i.e. style, syntax and grammar, I moved a number of actual sexual experiences from the life where they were lived into a story. All the while, the images, shown here, served as reservoir for developing the ten stories that structure the novel,” lui die kunstenaarsverklaring.

Die foto’s is ’n verdere toevoeging tot die diepte van Venter se wêreld, sy kenmerkende taal waarin beide sy geleefde ervarings en uitkyke deur teks en beelde weergegee word, die estetika van ’n skrywer-vertaler.

“The language used by the self-translator has become a hybrid language, and functions as follows. The original, composed in English, is reflected in the ‘second original’, the Afrikaans story, which in turn refracts back into the English. We now end up with a hybrid text, or texte croisé,” skryf hy.

Hy vertel hoe die Engels bewoon word deur ’n nimfagtige Afrikaanse gees (“lilting ghost”) met die gebruik van sekere woorde en kulturele verwysings en ’n soms plattelandse toon, waarteenoor die Afrikaans lae van Engelse uitdrukkings en begrippe bevat wat dit nie aan vertaling uitleen nie.

Hy verwys na die konstante dialoog tussen die twee tekste, en hoe dit uitgebeeld word in die foto’s, soos die een waar ’n baba-hondjie by ’n man se voete lê, voor die vuur teen sy ruwe werkstewels. “My father was a man of action, he didn’t say very much. Moody. There’s a word in Afrikaans, omgekrap.”

Eben vertel dat die koppeling tussen die foto’s en teks nie direk is nie, maar ’n sydelingse verwysing, nés die boek se titel wat oorsprong vind in die term vir die kleur blou in Xhosa, luhlaza okwesibhakabhaka, waarvan die letterlike betekenis “groen soos die hemel daarbo” is. Volgens hom is die verwysings so oblique soos die vertaling van seksuele ervarings na woorde.

In dié liggaam foto’s, waarvan ’n seleksie op Klyntji gepubliseer is, kom die seksueel-gelade gaze van die protagonis Simon Avend sterk na vore. Die betragting gaan oor die intieme self-verkenning deur en met ander, ook van die Ander. Dié politiek kan ontstel, maar ook jags maak. Die tonele is geset in Australië, Bali, Nederland, Tokio en Suid-Afrika, onder andere.

Eben sluit af: “Ultimately, in this hybrid space, and by employing more than one language, Simon is able to fully become the sexual being he is. In this way, if I may paraphrase Michel Foucault, Simon creates a new way of being where he can invent and multiply and modulate himself, in order to translate his sexual experiences – and, most importantly, self-translate himself.”

Istanbul, Turkey.

Istanbul, Turkey.

Foucault wanted to know what it was like to expose yourself, be naked if you wanted to, among other men, but outside normal relationships, far away from family and professional life and incessant obligatory camaraderie. He wanted to experience how it felt to desire, but he was talking about an uneasiness, about desire-in-uneasiness, desire while feeling unease.
 
Coonabarabran, NSW, Australia.

Coonabarabran, NSW, Australia.

My father was a man of action, he didn’t say very much. Moody. There’s a word in Afrikaans, omgekrap. It’s as if he’s been messed around with. Not fucked up, sorry about the word. It wasn’t as if he’d been fucked up. Just a difficult customer.
 
Fraser Island, Australia.

Fraser Island, Australia.

That great effort of self-mastery. The Greeks referred to the effort as agonistic, and athletic striving and spiritual combat to master yourself, your desire, and, in the case of Simon, his previous history.
 
Fraser Island, Australia.

Fraser Island, Australia.

Once you felt that, in the full sense of the word, with your whole body, and then later transfer the experience to your conscious mind so that you can remember all aspects of it, for ever and ever, you realise it was a one-off thing. It’ll never happen like that again. At least, not in and with your body.
 
Istanbul, Turkey.

Istanbul, Turkey.

Seductive, to say the least. For Helen Keller, the masculine emission was strong and vital. When asked about this, she described the odour of young men as something elemental, like fire, or as a storm, or a salty sea.
 
Richmond, Northen Cape, South Africa.

Richmond, Northen Cape, South Africa.

It was then that my arm touched Vepi’s, the length of my forearm against the length of his as he held the lamb in position, his skin covered in a layer of thin kraal dust. I has blondish teenage hairs on my arm, while Vepi only had one or two.
 
Calitzdorp, South Africa.

Calitzdorp, South Africa.

His teeth, chalk white against the dark skin of his face, came between our kissing but didn’t put me off – he measured out his breathing with tiny bites.
 
Family graveyard, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Family graveyard, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

You must remember that it was the most beautiful place on earth for me.
 
Burgersdorp, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Burgersdorp, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

There can never be any question of desire without privation, without a certain amount of suffering.
 
Prince Albert, Western Cape, South Africa.

Prince Albert, Western Cape, South Africa.

The aunties, my mother, look they’ve got hearts of gold, but live within strict limits. And it’s almost as if they’ve rewritten all those how-to-live rules in their old age and tightened them up even more.
 
Prince Albert, South Africa.

Prince Albert, South Africa.

Foucault never wanted to place limits on you. Instead, the thrust of his studies on sex and pleasure was always to urge you to evolve, to change yourself.
 
Fraser Island, Australia.

Fraser Island, Australia.

As far as his desire went, it was up to him to learn self-mastery, and in so doing, give himself a virility, a manliness that was of his own making.
 
Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

My grip strengthened around his shoulders as I tried to hide myself in him, and, at the same time, drawing him in, into me, until the spasms gradually subsided and my breathing, and his, slowed and evened, enabling us to loosen our bodies from one another.

Geborgde inhoud

Redakteur van Klyntji, assistent-kurator van die Konstitutionele Hof se kunsversameling en tans besig met 'n LLM in mediareg. Instagram / redakteur@klyntji.com