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troublemag | July 21, 2019

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P J Kool – Culture, Cancer and Cloth

P J Kool – Culture, Cancer and Cloth
Xavier Art Space
July 12 – August 15
Opening night: Friday 12 July, 5-7pm

A Photographic Exhibition by Melbourne Photographer/Visual Artist Pamela Kleemann-Passi

The P J Kool exhibition is a series of playful photographs of the late Congolese musician, Passi Jo, made while he was a cancer in-patient at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, his adopted home. They reference la sape, a sub-cultural anti-establishment, non-violent movement that he was a part of in his African homeland of Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, and in Paris. La Sape means Society for the Advancement of People of Elegance (from the French “La Societé des Ambienceurs et des Personnes Èlégantes”). It is about harmony in mind, body and soul. “The Sape is the art of creating beautiful harmonies from the combination of colours and styles to highlight the elegance of a suit and the manner of the sapeur”.

Passi Jo rose from his hospital bed and dressed for the camera, suited up in brightly coloured, well-pressed pyjamas ‘la sape-style’, to reconnect with and celebrate his culture, and be transported from a life defined by cancer to one of feeling the joy, style and swagger of living. Participating in these photographs enabled him to share his culture with the hospital staff and other patients. Like the Sapeurs, he created atmosphere, ambience and colour in an otherwise confronting and emotionally fraught medical environment. The P J Kool exhibition aligns illness and creative practice, highlighting the crucial role the arts can play in health and well-being, disease and illness.

Hours: 8am – 8pm