Strutting, Flying, Dying (2008)


McInnes’s manipulation of her material – soot from burnt tyres mixed with oil and grease on paper – lends force to the expressiveness of drawing and succeeds, at the same time, in conveying a deep sense of unease through the figure of the bird. The pigeon becomes a mass of allusions and possible references: to the idea of peace that usually accompanies images of doves; to the necklacing rituals that are a part of our history; and to the horrifying image of the so-called burning man, now also part of our history, set alight in an appalling display of xenophobic barbarity and pure lawlessness and played out on our TV screens and in our newspapers. This bird is no messenger of peace, but a harbinger of death and loss.

Bronwyn Law-Viljoen (2008)


Feral pigeons are not indigenous to South Africa. They’re aliens. They inhabit our cities where they strut, eat, fly, reproduce and die. Strutting Flying & Dying becomes a visual exploration of the uneasy status quo endured by foreign Africans living in Joburg’s inner city. Like pigeons, foreigners tenaciously adapt to their temporary home but they never lose their alien stigma. And as they eke out territory and livelihood they’re generally tolerated, but mostly disregarded, sometimes despised.

Living space is highly contested forcing people to cram themselves into rotting buildings. Furthermore, foreigners have very little recourse – many of them are here illegally or without legitimate papers. They are highly vulnerable and likely to be the first scapegoats when local tensions boil over, as was the case earlier this year. And yet they persist and survive, even thrive.

These people will come and go as the situations in their home countries change but as a phenomenon, they, like the pigeons in the cities, will always be a part of our society.


Title: Leaden

Date: 2008

Medium: Sheet pewter

Dimensions: 35 x 30 x 30cm

Title: Harbinger

Date: 2008

Medium: Burnt tyre soot and grease on Fabriano paper

Dimensions: 90 x 70cm

Title: Augur

Date: 2008

Medium: Pigment inks on cotton rag paper

Dimensions: 70 x 90cm 


Title: Flying II

Date: 2008

Medium: Pigment inks on cotton rag paper

Dimensions: 70 x 53cm 


Title: Scatter (detail)

Date: 2008

Medium: Pigmented acrylic resin

Dimensions: Variable