AiR online / Scott Eric Williams (ZA)

Introducing participants in the Offcity online residency programme.

Scott Eric Williams (ZA)

  • "My project is a Zine called "African Hikikomori". The zine will be realized as a pdf and will combine text, collage, mind maps, photography and documentation of a fashion study. Hikikomori is a term identifying predominantly Japanese men who have chosen a lifestyle of self isolation due to disillusionment with society. Although I'm South African I relate to Hikikomori as I become more socially inept with age. The legislated COVID-19 isolation brings a strange dimension. During this period I have seen an increase in people wearing protective hygiene masks. As an artist who often makes uses of costume and garments in my practice I started thinking of these in a fashion context. The mind jumps to Martin Margiela who used masks as a signature. Margiela stepped down from his fashion label in 2009 and went into isolation due to disillusionment with the fashion world. Relating this to the tropes of African masks and fashion my zine will explore isolation as African Hikikomori."

Scott Eric Williams is a self-taught artist from Cape Town and 2019 Andrew Mellon Award winning artist. Williams uses diverse media, which range from sculpture with recycled materials and weaving to zines and Wheatpaste street art. Williams is moved to create empathetic work, with an intention to pro-actively contribute to a multifaceted image of African identity. Scott’s work contemplates experiences of migration, land, hope and trade within inner-city contexts. Through his use of urban detritus and site specific materials he strives to make sense of city life. As a solo artist he has exhibited at Eclectica Contemporary, Gallery MOMO, Dyman Contemporary, Geumgang Nature Art Biennale and UCT Michaelis – amongst others.

African Hikikomori (e-zin to download)

I had been sitting with the idea of the African Hikikomori for a while and this platform finally allowed me a logical and empathetic outlet for my idea. I got the idea out of my system but I will definitely keep exploring the concept. It was definitely a stimulating concept to consider the city in terms of our absences and personal experiences in isolation. I had not done collage in a while. The last time I really did in earnest was about 2012 when I had to teach children at 3 different schools collage during a workshop. My writing had also stopped for almost a year and this project allowed me to write without the pressures of an editorial nature.  

During this period I had suffered a bad back injury due to the nature of working during lockdown. Not only did I have to do admin work but I also had to tutor and teach online which meant more time at my desk. I had to undergo physiotherapy and buy a new office chair and I am steadily healing. I would like to buy a new mattress as well – maybe in time. Admittedly this affected my output during the residency. I had planned much more ambitious making and photographic output but could not do so due to the pain and recovery process.   

My “illness” also meant that I was not as engaged with the other residency artists as I usually am. It was difficult for me to make contact and support the other artists’ work by making contributions to their output. I wish it were different but this is probably the nature of the experiment during such an unpredictable time in our existence.