TERMINAL | Berni Searle

These images are a series of video stills from a video trilogy called Black smoke rising (2009-10), comprising of Lull, Gateway and Moonlight.

Originally produced as single channel video works, the series of video stills is activated by the viewer walking or driving past. The element of time passing is thus actively generated by the viewer, with opportunities to pause in between viewing each image, and as such creates a different experience to the original video works. These works were all shot outside of the city centre and as such, this series places these peripheral locations more centrally for contemplation within the city.

The series was sparked by the rising levels of discontent in South Africa. Reminiscent of political protests in many other parts of the world, this discontent manifested itself in protests by unions and mass demonstrations against poor service delivery, the lack of housing and rising unemployment in the country. These protests continue.

Fire is a recurrent image throughout the trilogy. The burning tyre, a potent symbol of civil unrest since the apartheid era also alludes to the sinister practice of ‘necklacing’.  More recently this image has also come to be associated with poverty and unemployment, as tyres are burnt to recover the wire inside – and sold as cheaply as scrap, giving off toxic smoke with harmful effects for both the people that inhabit these spaces as well as the environment.