Diane Victor, a part-time lecturer in visual arts at the University of Pretoria (UP) has won a prestigious kykNET Fiesta Award for her “Shadows and light” installation which was exhibited at last year’s Aaardklop National Festival, where she was invited as festival artist. The festival was curated by Dr Johan Thom of the UP Visual Arts Department.
The annual kykNET Fiesta Awards honour excellence in the creative arts, while nominations are drawn from the various national arts festivals presented around the country. The award ceremony at Artscape, Cape Town, was a gala event that was televised live on the evening.
According to Victor, “the majority of awards are focused on outstanding theatrical performance, plays, scriptwriting and directing. There is one award for the visual arts and a few for those in music. I think the selectors were required to view every production, exhibition and performance in all of the festivals throughout the year, from which their nominations are made.”
Victor was nominated for two different productions and won the award for her “Shadows and Light” installation. She was also nominated for her exhibition, "Little history – a Retroflection", at the Johannes Stegmann Gallery at the University of the Free State during the Vryefees in 2018.
An image from “Shadows and light”, an exhibition which won Diane Victor a kykNET Fiesta award for Best work of Art in a festival.
Victor’s work is often focused on social and psychological tensions in South African society. Her winning body of work titled shadows and light consisted of two parts, the first a series of drawings and prints and the second an installation in the auditorium stairwell. The main installation – ‘The 14 Stations, a reflection on femicide in South Africa was “a processional work that required the viewer to ascend the ramp of the darkened stairwell of the auditorium, passing 14 smoke portraits on glass projected onto the concrete walls by purpose built lighting. The process made reference to the Stations of the Cross [the way of sorrows] a religious ceremonial walk that asks the viewer to reflect on suffering and loss. Traditionally it has 14 points each defined by an image from the life of Christ on the day he was crucified,” she explained.
The 14 portraits in this work were of South African women who were murdered by their intimate partners in the recent past and each projection created a point of reflection on the 14 stations the stairwell. “The wave of gender- based violence that floods our nation threatens the structure of our society, destroying lives and potential and has to be addressed on a national level ,” said Victor.
The women’s portraits were gleaned from reports in the news media and she used these references to draw portraits in smoke on glass of the victims. “When light is projected through the smoke drawing, the shadow is cast on the cement wall of the stairwell appearing more like a stain or shadow on the walls, than a directly rendered portrait. The images retain a ghostly ethereal quality which talks to the vulnerability and fragility of the lives of the victims.”
Another image from “Shadows and light”, an exhibition which won Diane Victor a kykNET Fiesta award.
The floor area at the bottom of the stairwell was covered with a layer of grey fly ash into which a large drawing of a deadly entwined couple was made. She explains that fly ash is the end product of coal combustion and is a heavy, greasy and toxic ash that holds the drawn lines scraped into it.
Victor holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Art from Wits University and is a winner of numerous awards including the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns award, and has worked as an artist since the 1990s. She has taught drawing and printmaking on a part-time basis at UP since 1993, as well as at a number of other tertiary intuitions “as a somewhat migrant lecturer. I exhibit widely and have works in numerous collections both locally and internationally,” she said.
She said she is honoured to have received the award and hopes “that this acknowledgement might renew interest in the work and perhaps increase the visibility of the installation, which could only exist for the short time of the festival”.