Sibusiso Mbhele: And His Fish Helicopter

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Sibusiso Mbhele And His Fish Helicopter is a cinematic look at the life and work of a visionary South African outsider artist who sparked the jealousy, wrath, and ultimate rejection of his own community with his wondrous creations of scrap metal flying machines.

Based on his eponymous film, originally screened in 2000 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Koto Bolofo’s first monograph documents a young, talented South African sculptor forced to flee his rural home—a full-sized,...

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Overview

Sibusiso Mbhele And His Fish Helicopter is a cinematic look at the life and work of a visionary South African outsider artist who sparked the jealousy, wrath, and ultimate rejection of his own community with his wondrous creations of scrap metal flying machines.

Based on his eponymous film, originally screened in 2000 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Koto Bolofo’s first monograph documents a young, talented South African sculptor forced to flee his rural home—a full-sized, hand-built metal facsimile of a helicopter—which stood as an oddity against a background of traditional thatched huts in his African village.

Self-taught, Mbhele earned his living creating scrap metal sculptures of planes, cars, and bicycles from wire, car wrecks, oil tin drums, and other recycled materials. After making the headlines in the local newspapers, Mbhele’s neighbors, jealous of his recognition and success, destroyed his creations and his beloved helicopter home. They had him jailed, and though he was later released, the tension and threat of further trouble was enough to make Mbhele take flight from his precious helicopter haven and head for the security of the city and the unknown.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Art by Air, Land, Sea & Eye South African sculptor Sibusiso Mbhele lived in a life-size, fish-shaped helicopter that he made himself, and earned a living in his small rural town by making scrap-metal sculptures of airplanes and other vehicles, until his jealous neighbors destroyed his home and had him jailed. Sibusiso Mbhele and His Fish Helicopter, a photo book by South African photographer and filmmaker Koto Bolofo that accompanies his documentary film of the same name, offers a look at Mbhele's enormous, painstakingly crafted, whimsical sculptures. The color and black-and-white photos capture not only the art works but the surrounding community and Mbhele himself who has since been forced to relocate in various stages of his life. Also included are a few reproductions of Mbhele's drawings and paintings. (June) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Every now and then one stumbles upon a book with an unclear message and bizarre content, a book that perhaps should never have been published as it does a disservice to its subject by raising unrealistic expectations. This print version of a documentary film by South African filmmaker and photographer Koto Bolofo fits that description. It documents, mainly in pictures, the life and works of a self-taught recluse the depth of whose talent is neither obvious nor adequately demonstrated in the pages of the book. Interesting as Sibusiso Mbhele's story may be to those who have never made their own toys or played with ones constructed from waste materials and minimal technology, to produce a book from that experience and hope to sell it for $60 is as incredulous as it is absurd. There are no explanations or notes on any of the 126 illustrations that together with the protagonist's seven-page narrative make up the book. That narrative, despite its brevity, is inundated with spurts of incoherence. This is a disappointing volume, put together haphazardly and selling at an inflated price. Not recommended. Edward K. Owusu-Ansah, CUNY Coll. of Staten Island Lib., NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781576871324
  • Publisher: powerHouse Books
  • Publication date: 5/1/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 11.06 (w) x 14.56 (h) x 0.70 (d)

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