From the viewer’s perspective, video installations can be a tricky medium to wrap your head around. The content is often obscure and indecipherable, and it’s all to easy too walk away feeling more than a little confused. However, if you’re armed with some background knowledge on the artist and their intentions, video installations can be a rewarding and fascinating art form.

One such exhibition, entitled ‘Mine’ (showing at Ductac’s Gallery of Light), presents video installations of 17 South African artists (including well-known notables William Kentbridge and Robin Rhode), in which they comment on personal ownership. Each artist also appears in his or her film. To help you understand the pieces, we asked five of the artists. to give us an insight into their work.

Johan Thom
Title of installation
‘Terms of Endearment’.

Length of film
Three minutes 49 seconds.

Describe your video installation.
In short, it’s a work in which I wanted to express something about the relationship between domesticity, art and the subconscious. For most of my career my home has also been my studio. There’s something interesting about the way in which art is simultaneously very personal and social, domestic and public.

What message are you trying to convey?
I think we ought to carefully examine the myriad ways in which ideas about dirt and cleanliness figure so prominently in the way we structure and understand the meaning of our lives.

Where do you appear in the film?
I appear made up in ‘skullface’, as a delirious character that seems to celebrate the material messiness of life even from beyond the grave.

Who inspires you?
The ingenuity of ordinary people.

Do you have a favourite filmmaker?
I love film generally, and three names come to mind immediately: Steve McQueen, Bill Viola and Werner Herzog.

What makes you proud to be South African?
We are a hybrid, multicultural nation.