Dec 312007

After years of intercontinental adventuring, the multi faceted design duo, Alba Poretti and Kathleen Cameron reunited in Johannesburg to “bedazzle” the city with their evolving narrative, art-design project MissYucki .

MissYucki, an established force on the South African art scene, recently staged a fresh solo show The Reunion at the Private Practice – Intermission gallery in downtown Johannesburg. The artists put on an intriguing display of their latest MissYucki creations, including an installation of plush “muti pups”, a narrative collection of illustrations, called The Case of the Missing Kitties, an extensive collection of limited edition digital illustration prints and a quirky pop up shop filled with original MissYucki merchandise and accessories

In addition to the gallery based spectacle the artists also staged their second Trolley Trash Treasure Hunt game which had participants leave the gallery space and take to the gritty streets of downtown Johannesburg to search for prized MissYucki treasures.

Assembled on the 18th floor of the Lister Medical building The Reunion wonderland presided over the city that inspired its conception.  MissYucki is originally from Johannesburg and is still predominantly inspired by the magic and mayhem of the city.  So it was completely fitting that The Reunion be hosted by the Private Practice- Intermission gallery, which has emerged as down town Johannesburg’s most famous and hip contemporary culture venue.

It is clear that MissYucki’s work focuses on exploring African folklore and divination, contemporary urban curiosities and pageantry, but, while, MissyYucki’s, fantastical art is based on Johannesburg with a keynote of new Africanism, the artists manage to successfully create work that translates their focus into winsome visions that are accessible from a global perspective.

This ability is evident in their work The Case of The Missing Kitties - inspired by a newspaper article about a Gauteng Village whose inhabitants were convinced that a tokoloshe (a mischievous evil spirit) was abducting the village animals. Alba and Kat translated their inspiration by writing their own MissYuckiesque version of the happenings. They presented their tale, in a 12 piece framed miniature illustration collection depicting scenes from their imagined mythology. Each illustration was rendered in perfectly subtle shades of pink, white and grey and while they are indeed steeped in a sense of African folklore their cutesy -pop sensibility makes them immediately palatable without having to deconstruct their social significance. But rest assured, MissYucki is not just all pink and pretty. Yes, the work is visually appealing and highly decorative but it is also laden with compelling cultural details and first-rate technical proficiency. MissYucki is cerebral cute at its finest.

The Reunion show engaged me from the moment the suspended plush installation greeted me at the entrance. But by the time I had navigated through the many Reunion offerings and inspected the wall of 20 digital prints I knew exactly why it is that MissYucki has become such a significant player in the illustration scene. MissYucki’s digital illustrations are exceptional. Each scene is populated with curious characters, like muti monsters, magic trolleys and pageant princesses. They each communicate their own unique share of the MissYucki Mythology through carefully designed compositions that combine layers of photography with expert digital drawing.

Alba and Kat use MissYucki to explore of their own identities within the context of South Africa and investigate various themes in daily urban life. They subtly explore questions of urbanism, race, heritage, and identity and blend it with their characteristic sparkle and playful charm. The MissYucki Reunion show was a thought provoking, visual treat and I look forward to seeing what the artists conjure up next.

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