It’s not uncommon to walk into a friend of a friend’s apartment downtown Cape Town and see one of his pieces, larger than life. A friend in New York recently sent me his sound cloud with the subject title; ‘This will help your summer,’ And now with a lecturing post at Pretoria University and a collaboration on a unique album release with a popular South African band, I’m satisfied Givan Lötz is almost as common as The Bioscope, that perennial urban institution so many South Africans hold near and dear to their heart as a place of gathering for film, art, music and now apparently, Givan Lötz.
Kyle Tregurtha | One thing that came up was how prolific you are, how do you explain that?
Givan Lötz | A search for knowledge and a yearning for catharsis combined in equal parts with boredom and impatience.
The RSA music scene is rather compact and intertwined. How do you fit into the network of South African musicians and artists?
GL | I don’t think I’m part of the core network. I feel removed from it. I operate from the margins, the fringes. My music output is quite personal and the intentions quite different to that of those inside the ‘scene’. I prefer this vantage point – outside, looking outside.
Your series STILLS presents 27 digital record covers for 27 individual songs from forthcoming albums by yourself –What do you mean by the art of false advertising in the context of these 27 album covers?
GL | The album covers were made with the energy left over from recording, mixing and producing the 27 songs mentioned. Realistically, the songs would never be published or released with those covers, not even digitally. And so they are “artworks” advertising or promoting a false product – generating hype for something that doesn’t really exist.
When is the footage used in the Easy Now music video from? Is the footage South African?
GL | The footage is from a 1940s psychiatric ward featuring people with, then grossly misunderstood, mental afflictions such as schizophrenia. It is not South African. I edited, treated and re-authored the film to re-contextualise the Easy Now song. Certain lyrics in the song, referring to bodies for example, are about control. The subjects in the film have clearly lost this control and the juxtaposition is intended to be somewhat disturbing.
Your motion canvas is something I could project at a meditation retreat in Massachusetts and actually transport people into another part of themselves.What about the work makes it so self-reflective for the viewer?
GL | By feeding specific colour combinations through various steps of digital filters, scattering and blending the information, I was able to create the impression of a traveling metaphysical landscape. The rhythmic visual stimuli combined with rhythmic sound, as a forced synesthetic experience, anticipates an ecstatic trance state. Understanding how we rationalise the experience of altered states of consciousness is central to understanding how we became human and, in the process, began making art.
What is your attraction to classical musicians like Mendelssohn, Gustav Mahler, Debussy, Chopin and Schubert?
GL | Romanticism. With these musicians classical forms were reworked to take on greater emotions. Individual expression is emphasized – I value this.
You produce so much visual work, in the sort of way the WPA produced posters. Do you / have you work commercially for South African institutions?
GL | Institutions? Governmental? No I have not.
How did you decide upon the colour which opens your ongoing series True Colours, which has a seemingly academic approach to the colour spectrum, and how does your experience with woman fit into this spectrum?
GL | The works are studies: Found photo sessions are layered on top of one another to create a single impression. This process creates an averaging visualisation (the colours are, therefore, incidental) The median poses revealed are reminiscent of a tradition in Art concerned with the depiction of beauty, epitomised by the nude Venus figure. In this way, “True Colours” traces a possible iconographical genealogy of modern pornography to canonical erotic artworks – The aestheticised objectification of women for an elitist male market is not a contemporary phenomenon.
If the original photo-shoots were lies (over-idealised beauty), once isolated and re-represented, they are remade as fiction; and as fiction they are truer than life – too good to be true. Unbelievable. Overdetermined. Author-less.
How do you explain the popularity of the band Bateleur as apposed to Tape Hiss & Sparkle? What was Bateleur’s direction for their new music release experiment which you participated in?
GL | I don’t really know how to explain popularity. To accompany the release of Bateleur’s new EP, CargoCults, they invited 5 artists to each work on a limited edition Artist Series. The EPs were housed in 30cm wooden discs. The artists had complete freedom to customize the wooden discs in any way they saw fit. In my 4 discs, titled MYTH; RITUAL; FETISH; WORSHIP, I explored the changing ego as it is involved with altered states of consciousness – from ecstasy to annihilation.
Chloe Coetsee’s video for Black Coffee, on which you did the audio, could represent the longed for African Renaissance. What does that look like to you?
GL | The idea of an african Renaissance is quite wonderful. Unfortunately, I feel that Africa will not be able to actualise/initiate this renaissance unless it rids itself of its current beggar-mentality. It’s obviously easier said than done.
Johannesburg | Doing our part to combat immappancy
Written by Kyle Tregurtha
Givan Lötz is a visual artist and musician who lives and works in Johannesburg. He holds a honours degree in Information Design from the University of Pretoria. Since 2005 he has worked on projects ranging from creative design solutions to live performance and self-initiated works for gallery exhibition.
All artworks courtesy of the artist. All rights reserved.