totemism: memphis meets africa curated by li edelkoort
totemism: memphis meets africa curated by li edelkoort totemism: memphis meets africa curated by li edelkoort
jul 12, 2013

totemism: memphis meets africa curated by li edelkoort

totemism: memphis meets africa curated by li edelkoort
image © designboom




li edelkoort always has her eyes peeled for what is in vogue, tracking what is currently playing an influential role on the development of our greater economy and society. asked to curate an exhibition on south african creativity on the occasion of design indaba 2013 in cape town, edelkoort immediately proposed the theme of ‘totemism’, inviting designers to submit work based on this notion of ‘layering and stacking’, interpreted in their own means. in addition, she drew on her recent observations of memphis design philosophies re-emerging, particularly in fashion, and added the thinking behind the theories of the 1980s movement of employing complete freedom, creating without restraints, to the mix. the resulting work of the 53 designers offered a showcase of extremely varied objects, but all of which figuratively or literally expressed on varied levels ‘totemism’–a certain relationship between people, animals, nature and ultimately spirituality, layered between personal history and local imagery. each one was constructed and realized through the application of traditional craft techniques and humble materials; the diversity of their function, form, aesthetic, further strengthening the meaning of ‘totemism’.


designboom asked the trend forecaster, ‘how does your curated exhibition relate memphis’ ideas to the south african style’?


I noticed that many south african artists were gathering pieces to make them into totems, on the one hand it was very african but through the colours it sometimes started to look like a form of memphis. replay, a london brand gathers glass domes from ebay which are turned into totems. I started seeing young designers making interesting citations towards the memphis movement. it felt right to curate an exhibition based on these findings, which really worked.‘ – li edelkoort



li edelkoort on the curation of ‘totemism: memphis meets africa’
video courtesy of design indaba



interpretation of a ‘fallow deer’ constructed from wire speaks of local wildlife and wire craft traditions
image © designboom



up close
image © designboom



among the selected works were pillows made from cornbags with embroidery by ‘africa!ignite’ (at left)
image © designboom


some of the objects took more literal approaches to the theme of ‘totemism’
image © designboom



the works layered local history and imagery
image © designboom



image © designboom



a totem of animals…
image © designboom



totems made from found materials depicting south african flora and fauna
image © designboom



exterior of the stand
image © designboom


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