Sweet but Deadly, Curated by Sarah-Jean Viljoen Opening on 8 June

Published 11 June 2024 in Media Blogs

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

Welcome to the Sweet but Deadly exhibition at the Viewing Room art gallery.

This exhibition invites you to delve into the paradoxical allure of sweetness entwined with

danger. Each piece here tells a story of temptation and peril, challenging our perceptions

and stirring our imaginations. Each individual piece on display is a reminder that what

captivates our senses can also conceal a darker reality.

When this process of this exhibition started in the end of March, this reasoning behind the

name was a completely different thought back then. It was intentionally an exhibition in

dedication to someone with whom I love dearly that has type one diabetes his entire life. I

started dating a type one diabetic since last year October. He told me on our first date that

he is a type one diabetic since he was a baby - 18 months old as his mother would say.

When he described what eating and foods were for him, these three words came up - Sweet

but Deadly. During the progression of my relationship with him, I began to understand the

psychology of his struggles with diabetes then a question came up during one of our late-

night talks, what would others see as sweet but Deadly other than diabetes. How many of us

know about diabetes or diseases that are Romanized as simple as that? What are things we

see as simply sweet but deadly? That became the spark of why this exhibition needs to


I knew I couldn't limit the ideas the artists I invited on a theme such as this. I had a very vague idea of what I would

have wanted to see for this exhibition, but honestly seeing what each of them sent me

through for the exhibition blew me away each time. I was shocked, I entertained and

humbled through the stories these amazing artists told. In the beginning it started as

artworks where it is just deadly fruit and poisonous flowers. Then came the artworks with

darker stories. A lot of them mentioned their ways of what was sweet but deadly was to

them. From the simplest idea of seeking greatness in one's identity to the dangers of alcohol

addiction and plastic surgery to the softness of the sacrifice of a honeybee. There is even in

the beginning as you walk by the stairs a tray of chocolates though seemingly delicious to

touch but the messages of lost loved ones and memories will make you rethink of opening

that chocolate wrapper mentally. Each artwork and artist statement I read gave me new

perspectives that people really need to understand more. Even while the love of my life had

been in a diabetic coma recently and worrying me to death, seeing these works here today

still gave me the wake-up call check in with the people around us more. Someone you know,

might be suffering from addiction or illness and just needs someone (judgments aside) to be

there for them in their lowest. Or even struggles identity and past traumas of motherhood.

Thank you to all the artists that came through different walks of life to participate in this

exhibition, these are your stories on this floor. You guys captivated and surprised me more

than I ever thought possible since I started planning this exhibition. Thank you for Lucy, for

allowing this opportunity to take place in wonderful gallery. Thank you to all the staff for all

your hard work to make this beautiful set up on this cold Saturday morning.

I leave you with this ladies and gentleman. When you go through the exhibition and view the

works, I hope you find reflections within yourselves on what is your own struggles that you

haven't told a loved one about. Might be a struggling conflicting relationship you need to end

but can't, or an addiction to drugs that you had for a long time but too embarrassed to tell

anyone or even simply a disease that you carry where the simplest of foods is

always….sweet but deadly.

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