GROUND LEVEL, GALLERY 2
SOUTH AFRICA, BORN 1968
LIVES AND WORKS IN CAPE TOWN
Plastocene – Marine Mutants from a disposable world 2020 is Porky Hefer’s major new work consisting of a series of large-scale handmade environments based upon imaginary sea creatures from a dystopian future he calls the Plastocene. This collection, including a 14m wide x 3.6m high octopus constructed of giant hand-felted cigarette butts, is made with a community of artisans and the team at Southern Guild in Cape Town. Marking the end of the Anthropocene, our current fossil-fuelled epoch, Hefer’s creatures remind us of plastic bags, straws, coffee cups, trash, and the discarded detritus of hyper-consumerism, convenience and environmental neglect. He speculates that in a distant future some species might transmutate, adapting to the endless abundance of plastics and pollutants flooded into nature. In a twist of evolutionary fate, Hefer imagines what would happen if refined hydrocarbon distillates from fossil fuels fused with organic DNA to generate a new type of life – transitional forms that exemplify the mutant fruits of our fossil-fuel era. The toxic future painted here is one that humans would struggle to inhabit. But at best, Hefer hopes that life continues in this new form, following the mass extinction that he sees us so selfishly perpetuating.
Designer Porky Hefer spent 16 years in advertising, during which time he worked as a creative director in Cape Town and New York, and became one of South Africa’s most awarded creatives. Realising that the higher he climbed, the less he personally created, he left advertising in 2007 to start up the creative consultancy Animal Farm. Four years later he founded Porky Hefer Design. Hefer focuses on conceptual precepts, which manifest in three dimensional forms, from public sculpture to product and furniture design. Intrigued by the reactions and energy a piece can generate, he embraces Africa and the skills that are readily available indigenously, rather than trying to emulate foreign processes. Hefer sees beauty in the functional, the ordinary and discarded. He regularly challenges our relationships with everyday objects, inspiring us to look again.
The NGV warmly thanks Triennial Champions Barry Janes & Paul Cross and Neville & Diana Bertalli for their support.