Abri de Swardt, I'll never wear sunglasses again, 2014, Courtesy of the artist

Abri de Swardt

b.1988, Johannesburg, South Africa

2012-2014 MFA Fine Art, Goldsmiths, University of London, London
2011-2012 BA Visual Studies, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch
2007-2010 BA Visual Arts, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch

Recent exhibitions

Solo Shows:
2015 ‘SPF Matthew Barney’, White Cubicle, London
2013 ‘Catapult Screensaver’, MOTInternational Projects, London
2011 ‘To Walk on Water’, Blank Projects, Cape Town

Group shows:
2015 ‘Dear Luxembourg (yours, bucktoothed grl)’, Nosbaum Reding Projects, Luxembourg
2014 ‘Man Magnet Melancholy’, Ffrigidaire, London
2014 ‘Field Work’, Muzeon Park, IV Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Moscow

Awards and Residencies:
2015 Sober & Lonely Institute for Contemporary Art Residency, Sober & Lonely Institute for Contemporary Art, Johannesburg
2012-14 Skye Foundation Scholarship, Skye Foundation, Cape Town
2012-14 National Arts Council of South Africa Bursary, National Arts Council of South Africa

Credits for I'll never wear sunglasses again 
(2014, HD projection and chrome fans, 10 min 35 sec)

Cast in order of appearance

Derek Jarman: Henry Rylands 

Felix Gonzalez-Torres: Mateo Rufino 

Paul Thek: Brian Aarden-Hanford 

Edward Scissorhands: Tom Donovan

Male Ostrich: Bless Klepcharek 

Wind Boy: Finlay Rees

Cinematography and editing 
Abri de Swardt

Will Sheridan Jr 
Izan Greyling

Braam du Toit

Choreographic assistance
Barbara Gamper

with help from Matthias Tharang, Min-Wei Ting and Derzu Campos

Artist’s Statement

He hands him the notes to read, marked by some annotations, a sequence of sentences prefaced by an instruction:

To be read simultaneously with, accessed via cellular device, tablet, laptop or desktop monitor, as is or projected (first gage the audience), scrolling slowly from left to right

He attempts to iron out the rumpled papers against the seam of his trousers, extending and stiffening his fingers. He doesn’t really believe in graphology, but he knows a magnifying glass is needed to decipher the swirls in pencil. Some words evade him, so he decides to substitute sections at whim (but given context, of course). He reads out loud:

The bottomless flatness of printed or virtual matter (as archive, pile or dump) is inhabited literally by a body, often his own, as the hand reaches into the lens, the viewfinder, and screen, through collage. The cut and tear, as gestures of dissection, boomerangs to baroque and occult as senses of time, biography and history become untethered in anachronism and excess. Digitisation and forms of amnesia (the cloud as prosthesis of memory) intertwine through a fantastical logic, one that adheres to hyperlinks and a tumblrification of knowledge.

Here he looks across the room, back out the window, pausing for a moment, and then returns:

Throughout, the impetus is resolutely queer (queer theatricality, queer mythos, queer affect, queer time [backwardness, bottomness, behindness, nerverness]) as he attempts to approximate an erotohistiography, an epidermal narration of the past. As visual gluttony is met with leechcraft, he ultimately engages in an aesthetics of drowning (or textually, the sunstroke of voice), as an outflow of the desire and speed of what J--- K----y has deemed “next level spleen”.

He folds the notes in half, halves it again, and once more, whilst he is walking, and then places them in his pocket, where he rustled them shortly before. Before doing this he recalls seeing something on the back of the sheet:

Sometimes all I can do is think of Giovani Battista Moroni’s The Tailor (1565-70)


I’ll never wear sunglasses again hypothesises a fateful meeting between artists Paul Thek (b. 1933, d. 1988), Derek Jarman (b. 1942, d. 1994) and Felix Gonzalez-Torres (b. 1957, d. 1996), through ellipses, cut-ups, cut-outs and torn fragments. Questions of interiority, the materiality of time, and the hand of the artist are punctuated by a host of fantastical subsidiary characters – Edward Scissorhands, a male ostrich in heat, and the Wind Boy. Here abruptions and legacies are activated by inferences and choreographed signs, as De Swardt summons three generations of bodies silenced too soon. Part mausoleum, part fan-annual, the video asks what art history does to the body of the artist, through inhabiting the spectres of AIDS in what becomes an archaeology of touch.

Cast in order of appearance:

Derek Jarman: Henry Rylands

Felix Gonzalez-Torres: Mateo Rufino

Paul Thek: Brian Aarden-Hanford

Edward Scissorhands: Tom Donovan

Male Ostrich: Bless Klepcharek 

Wind Boy: Finlay Rees


Cinematography and editing: Abri de Swardt

Sound: Will Sheridan Jr and Izan Greyling

Score: Braam du Toit

Choreographic assistance: Barbara Gamper

with help from Matthias Tharang, Min-Wei Ting, Sophie Hoyle and Derzu Campos