I can hear Willem Boshoff aka The Big Druid snoring before I see him. He’s lying on a thin mattress on the floor of the Smac Gallery, where his installation Big Druid in his Cubicle has been installed. Consisting of vintage objects in neat compositions, the installation appears like an orderly antique shop or interior of a home, belonging to a fastidious or assiduous collector. A collection of ornate wooden walking sticks are arranged in a line, as are a group of rusted sickles, there is a pair of old scissors, and lids of cardboard boxes are filled with the disassembled parts of dolls bodies. On a shelf is a skull among toys and a vintage radio. I discover on my way out of the gallery that each composition, or objects within each arrangement, if you could call it that, boasts a title, implying they are forms of expression. A list of artworks reveals that dental mouth casts on paper are dubbed “Speechless” and a battered bag, stones and a dice are titled “School”. I return to the displays to identify the objects that are assigned meaning but give up quickly; it’s too difficult, the spaces are so cluttered with things that I am easily distracted and find the quest futile; assigning or searching for meaning in retrospect seems like such a false response.
These antique compositions are only one aspect of his work; the Big Druid also goes on walks, where he “strives to look, see and discover that which others miss or avoid”. Unfortunately, my timing is bad so I miss joining him on one of these strolls – though through the (over) abundance of urban walks in Joburg this pastime has grown cold on me. Some artists are even positioning urban strolls as art. Have I missed Boshoff’s work? Is his sleeping body, the work – I quite like the idea that the only time a gallery has no hold on an artist is when he/she is asleep? The artful composition of knick-knacks could be the art that is also not art, or the large words like “Prick” and “Fat”, spelt out with small letters or beads that look like bona fide art products – they are framed and covered in glass that are displayed in an adjoining room at Smac.
It’s disconcerting, but I’m not really interested in discovering what Boshoff is saying – ironically, these blown up words, direct attention beyond words – but rather how he is saying it; where his expression is located. Is everything an accessory to his performance as a Druid or artist (for him these two personas are connected)?”
[Corigall, Mary (2013) When ‘the (art) thing’ is no longer the ‘thing’: Art Week Cape Town