Basement Place – Notes from Johannesburg.

International artist Roger Ballen and Artistic director Marguerite Rossouw emailed me a selection of images and gave me permission to respond to them through poetry. Marguerite and Roger were pleased with the final collection of work entitled Basement Place and allowed me to publish the work. Ballen draws inspiration from the analytical insights of Jung and Poetics of Space by French philosopher Gaston Bachelard who applies the method of phenomenology to architecture basing his analysis not on purported origins but on lived experience in architectural places and their contexts in nature. Bacheleard’s highly original study of lived in spaces combined with Ballen’s thought provoking work has provided inspiration throughout my practice and continues to provide a scaffolding of ideas for current work. Personal works’ are opaque and multi-layered, aiming to capture the layers and fabric of the mind, whilst highlighting the vagueness of borderline experiences and the complexity of the psyche. The written collection entitled Basement Place links to my current practice whereby I am concerned with memory, place and trace.The writing hints at the fragility of the mind and aims to capture emotionally charged atmospheres within space and place.


Offering, 2010. Roger Ballen.



Victor’s coming;

We chant. We sing.

Childhood voices in Attic lair.

These days we play hide and seek in Basement place.

Coming ready or not;

Victor’s here.

Mikki Gleave.



6140_2011b FFF 001

Ethereal, 2011. Roger Ballen.


Off the Wall.

Today felt like yesterday.

Or was it the other day?

Or the day before that?

The rain makes its usual noise;

Pissing vomit on earth’s nest.

Is it the rain?

That was this morning.

Or was it Friday?

Yogi sings her usual song.

Or was that yesterday?

Mikki Gleave


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Consolation, 2011. Roger Ballen.


This day.

In later years you painted Still life with ladybird.

You contemplated ochre to warm the chill.

Magpie visited some weeks before;

Singing a story only she knows.

You said you were ready.

You raised a glass to the air;

talking to those seen only by you.

You whispered, shouted, laughed.

But this day you left quickly;

All packed. Brushes, letters, ring. Check.

Today ladybird often visits;

a comfort for me and maybe for you.

Mikki Gleave. 


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1 Response to Basement Place – Notes from Johannesburg.

  1. Pingback: Collaborative Practice. January – May,2018 | mikkigleave

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