(Photos courtesy David Dini / Jenny Lai)In a world of increasing globalization, what is locality and how does it reflect diversity? That's the question at the center of New York-based designer and multimedia artist Jenny Lai's new exhibition with South African photographer Chris Saunders, open through September 17 at New York's Lower East Side Wallplay gallery.
In January 2014, Lai traveled around South Africa and collaborated with local makers to reinterpret garments from her conceptual women's clothing line, NOT. The resulting creations and their path to fruition, including a sculptural (and wearable) oversize puppet costume made of recycled water bottles, were documented by Saunders through photo and video with the help of Soweto-born performance artist Manthe Ribane. The exhibition is eye-opening for its compelling beauty and the grace with which Lai and Saunders approached the humblest of materials, and invaluable for the portrait it paints of a country about which many Westerners still have much to learn.
NOT x Chris Saunders is on display through September 17 at Wallplay gallery, 118 Orchard Street, in New York City; both artists will be on hand for an artists's talk tonight at 7:30pm. The exhibit will move to The Museum of African Design in Johannesburg, South Africa in March 2015.