The Star, August 9 1990
Student sculpture sets a high standard
By Kendell Geers

Extract from a review of the Martienssen prize exhibition, referring to the work Legend

... Alborough's sculpture, which remains untitled, sets a standard rarely seen in student work, demonstrating the artist's ability to match form with content, the visual with the cerebral. He challenges the viewer through critical examination of issues in representation.

Documenting the corrosive effects of nictic acid, ferric chloride, photographic developer and saltwater on steel filings, copper shavings, steel foil and copper foil, the sculpture is reminiscent of a scientific experiment unashamedly transgressing all polite boundaries of what normally constitutes art.

A heavy piece of handmade paper is attached to the wall into which the above-mentioned objects have been inserted and are in the process of corroding. The paper bares (sic) the text "Ever Ready", suggesting that the work may be a contemporary inversion of the Duchampian ready-made concept.

However, the mechanical, "engineering" elements have been aesthetically determined.

The layering of the wooden support panels, the carefully rusted bolts, together with their formal displacement, shift the work away from the purely scientific. This, together with the context of the sculpture, the Gertrude Posel Gallery, leaves absolutely no ambiguity regarding its status as fine art.

Documentary labels identify the various components, once again occupying the void between art and science. While most of the labels identify specific elements or processes, many have been left blank, performing pure formal or aesthetic functions.

Two extremely bright halogen lamps hover ahead of the piece, cutting a bleached triangle of light across the gallery floor. If the viewers wish to fully engage the sculpture, they are forced to step inside the lit area in order to examine the objects displayed on the horizontal surface that makes up the main body of the sculpture.

As they perform this ritual, the viewers become an essential part of the work, by completing it through participation. ...

... To expect every student to attain the same standard as Alan Alborough is simply impossible. The future of South African art would certainly appear a lot less bleak if more artists and students alike were encouraged to strive for the same standard of critical engagement that characterises Alborough's piece.