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Archive: Issue No. 36, August 2000

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ISSUE NO. 36 AUG 2000

29.08.00 New Works by Mark Hipper
08.08.00 'Hayani' - art from the Northern Province at the NSA
01.08.00 'Material Matters', at the DAG
01.08.00 Red Eye in August at the DAG


New Works by Mark Hipper

In his latest work, Mark Hipper has both embarked on a new venture - sculpting - and focused on the question or process of objectification. A series of body masks carved out of yellow wood and jacaranda reference the ones made by the Makonde of Mozambique and worn by dancers who perform instructional dances for recent initiates.

Hipper has recast the masks as male. If men have traditionally been privileged to know and to have the phallus - and to objectify women -the roles are here reversed. Now any woman or girl can wear or have the mask, can try on and assume the attributes, the body of the other sex. If the phallus has been the privileged signifier, having it in the form of a body mask means having the power to turn the traditional power structures against themselves, to subtly mock the phallic male's conceits. The suggestion is that men should learn the responsibility of their own sex. It is not sexual prowess or other attributes traditionally associated with representations of the male sex which are celebrated, but rather it is an object that has been made more complex and more vulnerable. Drawing on an African archetype, the masks are rendered from within a European aesthetic tradition - in terms of form and naturalism.

Exhibited with these masks are a series of black on black drawings of faces of young Xhosa youths. These faces are those of the future protagonists, and how might they wear or carry their new attributes or responsibilities? The artist is reminding us that perhaps these portraits are also masks, are objects of our objectifying gaze, in the way that ethnography objectifies its subject.

Opening: Sunday, September 3 at 4:00 p.m. Until September 21.

N S A Galleries, 166 Bulwer Road, Glenwood, Durban, South Africa, 4001
Postal address: P.O. Box 37408, Overport, Durban, South Africa, 4067
Tel: (031) 202-2293

Noriah Mabaso

Noriah Mabaso outside her house in Venda

'Hayani' - art from the Northern Province at the NSA

'Hayani' is an exhibition of art from the Northern Province curated by Kathy Coates, and includes artists Noriah Mabasa, Albert Munyai, Phillip Rikhotso, Samson Mudzunga, Avhashone Mainganye, Jackson Hlungwane and Owen Ndou.

In the past, art exhibitions, in particular those in urban areas which present work from rural areas, have either not been able to, or have been reluctant to show much of the context within which these artists function. Instead the myth of the 'African exotic' is most often perpetuated. This new exhibition involved the artists as much as possible in the process of curating, and attempts to explore the relationship of these artists to the market with which they all have struggled and their degrees of success or failure in negotiating this fraught system.

'Hayani' focuses on the artists' relationships with their domestic environment. It examines the historical, economic, geographical and socio-political factors that have come into play in the production of their lives and consequently their art. Video, photographic and written documentation will inform and support the work shown.

This project and exhibition is the culmination of research conducted over several years by Kathy Coates, living and working in Giyani, Northern Province.

'Crossings' - Sculptural Installations by Kathy Coates

During 1997, Kathy Coates spent time in Durban for the initial phase of her Masters of Technology (Fine Art) degree through Technikon Natal. In this time Coates developed a body of work incorporating various aspects of Durban's history with references to colonisation and migration. This resulted in installations which were presented in a semi documentary fashion with arbitrary soil, sand, seawater and other objects presented as 'site samples'. Her interest in the environment in which she found herself then expanded onto a more human level: Coates undertook a collaborative piece with residents of the Wylie House children's home where she created therapeutic multi-disciplinary events. Titled 'once there was and once there was not', that project has been reworked by Coates to incorporate a newly developed creative project underway at Iris House (Place of Safety) in Giyani, Northern Province. Human interest and socio-economic concerns have now generated a number of different installations for this current exhibition. In one, food and related rituals are considered, and the divide between rich and poor in the current South Africa is investigated, whilst a collaborative piece with Azwhimphele Magord, in the form of a wooden space ship, links the exhibition with the Venda artists in 'Hayani'.

Kathy Coates has been living and working in Giyani, Northern Province, for more than ten years. A Fine Arts lecturer at the Giyani College of Education, Coates has participated in numerous exhibitions.

Both shows open Sunday August 13 at 4 pm. The Giya Players will perform at this event. Shows close August 31, 2000.

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N S A Galleries, 166 Bulwer Road, Glenwood, Durban, South Africa, 4001
Postal address: P.O. Box 37408, Overport, Durban, South Africa, 4067
Tel: (031) 202-2293

Loice Mungure

Loice Mungure
Beer Hall (1999)
6 panel appliqué
Private collection

'Material Matters', at the DAG

Curated by Brenda Schmahmann, 'Material Matters' is an exhibition of contemporary Southern African needlework from collectives in South Africa, such as Mapula and Simunye, and appliqués done in the rural community of Weya in Zimbabwe.

Needlework has provided poverty-stricken women with not only an income, but also a 'voice'. Females, who would normally keep silent, have found in needlwork a means of expressing their aspirations and anxieties. The appliquéd wall hangings made by the women of Weya include stories that focus on customs and norms in Shona communities, and speak of the ways in which these affect women's lives. Far from being solemn, the stories are represented with humour and, in many instances, dramatic irony.

This is the first exhibition to offer a retrospective examination of Weya appliqués, and many of the works it includes are drawn from private collections and have never previously been exhibited. It includes extensive information about the histories of needlework groups and the subject matter of individual works, not only in the form of written commentaries, but also through photographs and video footage. Accompanied by a catalogue with contributions by both experienced researchers and people with an immediate involvement in needlework projects, the exhibition provides important new insights about the creativity of black women in Southern Africa.

August 5 - September 15, 2000.

Durban Art Gallery, 2nd Floor, City Hall, Smith Street
Tel: (031) 300-6234/5/8
Gallery hours from 09:00 to 12:00

Red Eye

A moment from a performance at a past Red Eye
Photo: S. Hilton-Barber

Red Eye in August at the DAG

This month's Red Eye, back in its normal time slot, offers an unusually interesting array of dance events. The more traditional, but flamboyant Camino Flamenco presented by Linda Vargas Dance Co will form an interesting counterfoil to David Gouldie, fresh from the Grahamstown Festival with the Fantastic Flying Fish Co. In addition, in Durban for a short working visit, the London School of Contemporary Dance promises some surprises. Pumping it up on the music side will be the launch of the 'Independent on Saturday Battle of the Bands' covering Rock, Kwaito and Punk as well as D.J. Siyanda with a House and Kwaito combination. For the body adornment brigade, there will be living fashion installations showcasing the work of Maphiwe Mzolo, Malibongwe Zulu and Clinton Naidoo as well as an NVU hair installation: 'Indigenous Hair' by Jenny B. Excerpts from the award winning play 'Copenhagen' currently on at the Elizabeth Sneddon will give a scientific twist to the nights' proceedings whilst Suzy Lightning and Nicolette Van der Storm collaborate on a performance piece entitled 'Soft' which demands interaction with the audience and offers marshmallows by way of enticement.

'Red Movies' showcasing past Red Eye highlights will run throughout the evening on the big screen.

August 4 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Durban Art Gallery, 2nd Floor, City Hall, Smith Street
Tel: (031) 300-6234/5/8
Gallery hours from 09:00 to 12:00