Peter Engblom

A lot of people know a little about Siener van Rensburg and his visions, many take them with a large pinch of salt & others add a little Tequila.

There may be a coherent story hidden in these visions as some facts balance perfectly modern occurrences. His stories consist of four main parts. One of them contains extensive reference to the "fall of the European Government", while another one deals entirely with the modern day struggle between the USA and the extremist revolutionaries that follow Islam. He noted that the vierkleur would be flying above the Union Buildings when the ice began to melt, that around this time Koeberg power station would blow up, that the world economy would collapse, the Kruger millions would be found, etc. These visions were all recorded by his daughter some time before his death in 1926.

What many people do not know is that his granddaughter, Pandora van Rensburg, was the first Burlesque performer in Africa. The Boer commandos had a hard time fighting the British forces and there was little or no entertainment for them. Pandora set up a little dance troupe and traveled the various frontlines with her ostrich feathers. Weather this was motivated by patriotism or greed we will never know. What we do know is that she was so successful that she eventually toured the country in a pink sedan, and there are rumors that she may have performed in St Helena, Bermuda and Ceylon for the imprisoned Boer troupes at no cost to these bitter patriots. Pandora carried her ostrich feathers in an old guitar case and this eventually became known as “Pandora’s Box” in Afrikaans known as “Pandora se doos”.

Pandora’s live shows for “Springbok Cigarettes” predated most live advertising in the country and many of her pioneering ideas were later used on the radio station named after this Burlesque show. Many people think that "burlesque" means female strippers walking a runway to a bump and grind beat. But that only fits this form in its later years. At its best, burlesque was a rich source of music and comedy that kept audiences laughing.

Underdressed women performed as sexual aggressors, combining good looks with impertinent comedy, and all this was in a production written and managed by a woman. Unthinkable in those times. No wonder the commandos turned out in droves, making Pandora and her "Boer Burlesque" the hottest thing from Pretoria to Potchefstroom. Demand for tickets was such that she held a special command performance for President Kruger and his generals in his stables behind his house in Pretoria.

Pandora’s principal legacy was her shifting of patterns of gender representation that forever changed the role of the woman on the South African stage. The sight of a female body, not covered by the accepted norms of respectability, forcefully if playfully, called attention to the entire question of the "place" of woman in society.


Description: Fine Art Exhibition

Peter Engblom spends his days dancing along the ever-shifting line that separates myth from history. A museum designer by profession, the irreverent Engblom is also responsible for the now infamous Zulu Sushi series of images, in which he tells the story of Mpunzi Shezi, a Zulu missionary who went to Japan at the turn of the.  “Pandoras Box” is an exhibition of recent photographic artworks created behind the “boerewors curtain” featuring Pandora van Rensburg  the improbable daughter of Siener van Rensburk and her travels around the world. She may be a fragment of her own imagination.

Q: How would you characterize your photographic style?
A: At the moment I find myself creating photographic lies. The “Pandoras box” work is based on the fact that identities are constructions that we are swindled into believing. My pictures are constructions of events that never took place.

Q: What inspired “Pandora’s Box”
A: I was reading a book about the visions of Siener van Rensburg and was struck by the idea that the world is going to end in 2012.  Research revealed that Clarens would be the safest place to be when the south pole becomes the north pole. Russians are already building bunkers in the mountains.

Q: What role does your character Pandora van Rensburg play?
A: Pandora traveled the world selling ostrich feathers, practicing the dark arts and researching hallucinogenic plants. She exclaimed “A woman does not have an Orgasm from pealing potatoes” when she was served a cold Potato and Leek soup in Manhattan.

Q: How do you create your pictures? Are there any special techniques?
A: The pictures are basically collages with the edges blurred to make them more realistic. Each picture is planned and the different pieces shot separately. The models are real most of the landscapes were shot around Clarens.

Q: How important is Digital-Photography for you?
A:I continually loose all my equipment so I now just use a tiny point and shoot camera that cost less than a thousand rand.

Q: What are your “artistic plans” plans for the future?
A: I recently discovered the diaries of King Jika Jika who was her majesties inspector of paranormal activities and a coffee planter. There appear to be 3d pictures of ghosts and UFO’s taken in Jamaica, St Helena and Kenya. I intend to tear up the album copy the pages and sell them to collectors as “Art” in a coffee shop being built by Matt Stevens in Bath.
Peter Engblom

Peter Engblom studied photography at the Bavarian State Institute in Munich. His ancestors established a Norwegian mission outpost in Zululand at the turn of the last century. A sugar farmer and yacht broker, he has spent over a decade photographing traditional rituals and ceremonies in Zululand. Peter has produced audiovisual experiences for clients such as Itala Bank, Lever Brothers, CI Caravans, Ilanga Newspaper, KwaZulu Monuments Council and the Local History Museums in Durban. He designed the Bensusan Museum of Photography in Johannesburg and the Portnet Visitor Centre in Durban. He also created the concept and history of Mpunzi Shezi, the first Zulu missionary to the Japanese - he took Ubuntu to the Buddhists and brought Zen back to the Zulus. He describes his work as 'the Celestine Prophecy meets Mad Magazine". He also designed the suitcases for Big Brother and was the creative director on South Africa’s bid to host the world architectural congress.

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