The art of hyper security

By Zelmarie Goosen and Robyn Kirk

Barbed wire stretched across a portion of wall and a ceiling-high “bouquet of security cameras” are just some of the installations produced by Amber-Jade Geldenhuys. 

A piece in Amber-Jade's collection, CCTV cameras showing how security plays a big role in our every day lives.

A piece in Amber-Jade’s collection, CCTV cameras showing how security plays a big role in our every day lives. Photo by: Zelmarie Goosen

At her Masters exhibition, opened at the Substation on the Wits Campus on Thursday, Geldenhuys, a fine art student at Wits focused on the issue of “securitization” of the homes that South Africans have come to think of as normal.

In the exhibition running until 18 March, she hopes to make visitors aware of the South African obsession with safety.

“We create these elaborate constructions, and they always go without any questioning [or] second thought, so it’s interesting to start to think of ways to push those boundaries and maybe… find a way over the walls,” Geldenhuys said of her work.

Crime in South Africa

According to official South African Police Service statistics released by the Institute for Security Studies, incidences of robbery increased 4.6% (or by 4 685 cases) from 2012 to 2013 and instances of residential burglary increased 6.8% to a total of 262 113 incidents, meaning there was an average of 720 house burglaries each day.

Jeremy Wafer, Geldenhuys’ supervisor described the exhibition as interesting because it attempted to display something so often considered threatening into something beautiful.

“I think she’s working with really interesting themes, themes that depict all of us living in a big city like Johannesburg, with issues of what it means to be in secure homes, of security and at the same time overturning that to some degree,” Wafer said.

“[Her work] is a bit like our homes: spaces of comfort, and in these spaces you also always feel anxious whenever you hear a noise and you rush out to see what’s going on, and it isn’t just a class thing, everyone experiences what’s going on and has anxiety, ” he added.