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Archive: Issue No. 48, August 2001

Go to the current edition for SA art News, Reviews & Listings.


21.08.01 Candice Breitz on 'Looking at You' in Kassel
14.08.01 Kendell Geers on 'Trauma' at Dundee Contemporary Arts
24.07.01 Angela Ferreira - 'Squatters' in Rotterdam
24.07.01 Moshekwa Langa in Paris
05.06.01 'Plateau of Humankind' at the Venice Biennale
05.06.01 'Authentic/Ex-centric' at the Venice Biennale
29.05.01 African artists at Barcelona Art Report
United States
14.08.01 First David Goldblatt retrospective in the US
03.07.01 Siemon Allen in Washington
29.05.01 William Kentridge in New York
Far East
28.08.01 William Kentridge at the Yokohama Triennale

Candice Breitz

Candice Breitz
Double Karen (Close to You)
'Four Duet' series
DVD installation


Candice Breitz on 'Looking at You' in Kassel

"Candice Breitz's subject matter and medium is pop culture ... the video clip. Her technique is editing ... Found footage ... is cut away, reduced and honed to the point of being succinct. Candice Breitz presents us with trash of our civilization. She eternalizes the extract by mutating it into a concentrated and stammering loop that repeats itself endlessly." Thus writes Frank Wagner in a recent catalogue essay on Breitz's series 'Four Duets'.

One video diptych from the series of four is currently showing on 'Looking at You', a group show which opened at the Museum Fridericianum in Kassel on August 11. In Double Karen, two facing monitors show Karen Carpenter, the anorexic half of Seventies singing duo The Carpenters, endlessly repeating a phrase from hit song Close to You.

August 11 - September 11

Museum Fridericianum

Kendell Geers

Kendell Geers
Cry Wolf, 1999

Kendell Geers on 'Trauma' at Dundee Contemporary Arts

Kendell Geers is one of the artists included on 'Trauma', a Dundee Contemporary Arts/National Touring Exhibition organised by the Hayward Gallery for the Arts Council of England.

"The experience of trauma on local and global scales has given rise to some of the most remarkable art of recent years. This major new exhibition explores how art has addressed the immediate experience of such events and situations and how the personal, psychological, social, cultural and political effects reverberate through our lives," reads the press release. "'Trauma' presents some outstanding artworks, which consider the diverse and often awkward, inescapable but indefinable responses to life-changing events."

The exhibition includes work in a variety of media, including drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, video, film and installation. Geers exhibits alongside Willie Doherty, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Johan Grimonprez, Guillermo Kuitca, Tracey Moffatt, Lucia Nogueira and Anri Sala, among others.

Closing: September 2

Dundee Contemporary Arts, 152 Nethergate Dundee DD1 4DY, Scotland
Tel: +44 1382 606220
Fax: +44 1382 606221

Angela Ferreira

Angela Ferreira
Installation view, 2001

Angela Ferreira - 'Squatters' in Rotterdam

Mozambican-born, South African based artist Angela Ferreira is currently showing on the exhibition 'Squatters' at the Witte de With centre for contemporary art in Rotterdam. The exhibition is a collaborative venture between Witte de With and the Serralves Museum in Porto, and takes place in the two "joint cultural capitals of Europe". Ferreira is one of nine artists asked to produce new, site-specific works exploring their relation to public and exhibition spaces in the first instalment of the Rotterdam show.

Ferreira's "architectural sculpture" takes as its starting point a 1920s public housing project in Rotterdam, the Kiefhoek by JJP Oud, and the way in which its renovation (it is now a museum) has altered its meaning and function. She draws a parallel with a 1970s housing project, still in use, in Bouça, Portugal, juxtaposing the two projects in a scale model that visitors may only enter in their socks - transforming functional structures into an aesthetic object that can no longer be used.

The other artists on 'Squatters #1' are Francis Alÿs, Juan Cruz, Giuseppe Gabellone, Costa Vece, Miguel Palma, Runa Islam, Ceal Floyer and Damian Ortega. The latter's work, titled Secuestro de carbono, takes the form of a campaign to raise Rotterdam residents' awareness of harmful CO2 emissions and encourage them to buy trees, to be planted by Ortega in a landscaped field in the midst of Porto's motorways.

Opening: July 15
Closing: September 24

Witte de With centre for contemporary art, Witte de Withstraat 50, 3012 Rotterdam

Moshekwa Langa

Moshekwa Langa
Installation view, 2001
Mixed media
Courtesy Galerie Ghislaine Hussenot

Moshekwa Langa at Galerie Ghislaine Hussenot in Paris

Moshekwa Langa's Paris solo show passed ArtThrob by (it closed on July 20), but to make up for it we run an extract from a review by Francesco Poli in Tema Celeste. Poli describes Langa as the enfant prodige of the new generation of post-apartheid artists, communicating "not only the memory of his rural roots, but also a very profound awareness of the current developments in globalization that have produced economic disasters and human tragedies, particularly in Africa".

"In this Parisian exhibition, Langa is showing both paintings and collages, as well as installations, yet there is a clear theme connecting this myriad of media. In a kind of bricolage work that occupies a large floor area, the artist has recreated a ramshackle metropolis whose buildings are made out of bottles; the dynamic and chaotic flux of humanity is expressed through hundreds of multicolored threads that grow out of the tops of the 'towers' and flow in every direction. The city streets are animated further with a variety of model cars, many of which are military. Placed next to this 'city,' there is another installation made out of a large, square, iron grill which has been set atop four used gasoline drums, alluding to the world-wide hegemonic network exercised by the huge multinational oil companies. ...

"The disorder, the randomness, the destruction of clear borders between the nations reigns sovereign in the images, which ironically transmit the idea of a total disorientation and identity crisis." For the full review, see

Galerie Ghislaine Hussenot, 5 bis, rue de Haudriettes, Paris
Tel: +33 1 48 87 6081
Fax: +33 1 48 87 0501

Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys
The End of the 20th Century, 1968

Vanessa Beecroft

Vanessa Beecroft
VB00 Sister Project

Minnette Vári

Minnette Vári
Still from Oracle

Minnette Vári

Minnette Vári
Still from REM

Tracey Rose

Tracey Rose
Still from Ciao Bella - Mscast (Sereia)
Photograph by George Hallett

'Plateau of Humankind' at the Venice Biennale

The international exhibition at the Venice Biennale, curated by Harald Szeemann, takes as its starting point Joseph Beuys's 1968 sculpture The End of the 20th Century. As Szeemann explains it, the 'Plateau' offers "a view over mankind" at a point where artists, while rooted in local identities, are feeling a freedom to explore "the eternal in humankind" - "desires, behaviour and ways of seeing that are shared by all human beings". Beuys is seen as a spokesman for this freedom - "He hoped that with the end of the old and the beginning of the new century our warmth would be enough to generate life in the inorganic."

A press release describes the exhibition thus: "On a single large upland (Plateau), from where one can look out to view humankind, young artists from all over the world offer their account of the present day; while alongside them look out those figures who contributed to the artistic revolutions of the 20th century. All present in one single exhibition, without divisions of time or space." In a major point of departure, the 'Plateau' also includes contributions from film (participants include Atom Egoyan and David Lynch), poetry, music, theatre and dance. The massive exhibition extends from the Italian Pavilion in the Giardini di Castelo through to the Arsenale spaces - old shipyards and warehouses which have undergone extensive renovation since the last Biennale - of the Corderie, Artiglierie, Gaggiandre, Tese delle Vergini and Giardino delle Vergini.

Two South Africans, Tracey Rose and Minnette Vári, are among the more than 100 artists hand-picked by Szeemann. Young artists with little previous international exposure are strongly represented on this year's exhibition, while some of the well-known names in the long list include Francis Alys, Vanessa Beecroft, Richard Billingham (recently announced as one of the nominees for this year's Turner Prize), Tania Bruguera, Chris Burden, Maurizio Cattelan, Rineke Dijkstra, Stan Douglas, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Ron Mueck, Gerhard Richter, Georgina Starr, Gavin Turk, Cy Twombly, Bill Viola and Jeff Wall.

Minnette Vári has said she will be exhibiting three video pieces - Oracle, Mirage and REM, although at the time of discussion there was still the possibility of a new work. According to statements by the artist, Oracle references Francesco de Goya's painting of Saturn devouring his children. Vári becomes "a maniacal golem, cramming all the conflicting histories of present-day Africa into my mouth, in a fit of hunger that makes me gag". In Mirage Vári plays with the South African coat of arms, using "the visual conventions of heraldry to impart a sense of ritualised and artificial order, an order that is constantly mutating and is therefore hazardous and unstable - on the brink of a meltdown". In REM, a night-time installation, the artist filmed herself sleeping and edited together the most restless parts into a projected dream sequence - "a tableau of human and animal figures and various objects engaging in a flow of relationships: the hunter and the hunted, the shaman and the devotees, adversaries in combat, the arrival of Europeans in their awkward cattle-drawn wagons".

Tracey Rose will be exhibiting a new video work, Ciao Bella, in which the artist presents a tableau of 13 characters - a reference to the Last Supper and its "classic patriarchal supper club" - and alters the dynamics to play with the notion of alloted roles (roles which the artist too might be called on to play within the staged scenario of a group exhibition). Rose's dinner guests are all women, a disparate congregation who "taunt one another's historical time zones and scoff at one another's histories and politics" - "Saartjie Baartman pores disarmingly over Marie Antoinette/Queen E. An Afro'd mermaid languishes with her plate of hot chips and 'Catch-Up' while the China Doll quotes passages from The Merchant of Venice."

In a press release Tracy Murinik writes: "Rose has commented that theatre has always been an integral socially accepted domain - a place where questions can be posed and new roles adopted, especially when those possibilities do not readily exist in the immediacy of one's lived environment. It is of significance that Tracey Rose plays all the characters on the stage that she has constructed, and it is significant that she creates her characters by transforming simple materials into wondrously fantastical physical constructions. Rose's trademark and tendency are a discreet balance of a veering towards iconoclasm immersed with searing wit and a profound aesthetic."

From what we've seen at ArtThrob, both artists have done themselves justice with remarkable works, at a Biennale which might no longer be the most cutting-edge of world art exhibitions but is still a most prestigious event.

Opening: June 10
Closing: November 4

Venice, Giardini - Arsenale
Tel: +39 041 521 8861
Fax: +39 041 520 0569

Berni Searle

Berni Searle
Snow White, 2001
Video installation (detail)

'Authentic/Ex-centric: Africa in and out of Africa' at the Venice Biennale

Curated by Salah Hassan and Olu Oguibe, with Emma Bedford of the South African National Gallery as associate curator, this major exhibition features the work of seven African and African Diaspora artists - South Africans Willem Boshoff and Berni Searle, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Godfried Donkor, Rachid Koraïchi, Zineb Sedira and Yinka Shonibare. The show's stated aim is to "highlight recent currents in contemporary African art practice through work which speaks directly to issues of representation, memory, Diaspora, expatriation and other aspects of the African experience".

Willem Boshoff's installation Panifice, which means "breaking bread", refers to Christ's question in St Mathew's Gospel: "What man is there of you, whom if his son asks for bread, will he give him a stone?" Boshoff has translated the phrase into multiple languages and inscribed it on 56 stone loaves, made of granite and thus unbreakable, a comment on the absence of fellowship between Africa and the First World. In a similar vein, Berni Searle's video installation Snow White shows the artist drenched in flour which she then uses to make a roll of dough, breaking it into pieces to evoke the meaning of making and sharing bread.

Among the other works, Yinka Shonibare's Vacation has astronauts dressed in space suits made of his trademark African wax-printed cotton textile, demonstrating the complexity of power dynamics between the alien/other and colonialist/explorer. And in Lord Byron's Room, Godfried Donkor uses Byron's reputation as a boxing enthusiast to suggest a close relationship between him and prominent black pugilists of the time, thus exhuming "repressed histories of black presence in Europe".

'Authentic-Ex-centric' is being held at the Fondazione Levi, an old palazzo which opens directly onto the Grand Canal, next to the Accademia Bridge. Work for the exhibition will have been transported by barge, and offloaded through the enormous double doors which open onto the water. The space is a series of rooms, and was also rented for the South African show 'Incroci del Sud/Affinities', which heralded the return of South Africa to the Venice Biennale in 1993.

Opening reception: June 7 at 12.30pm
Opens: June 6
Closes: November 4

     See Reviews

Palazzo Fondazione Levi, San Marco 2893, 30124 Venezia
Tel: 041 78 6777
Gallery hours: 10am - 5pm (closed on Mondays)

Jane Alexander

Jane Alexander
Photo collage

African artists in Barcelona Art Report

'Africas: The Artist and the City', curated by Pep Subirós, opens in Barcelona on May 29. Presented by the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, the exhibition forms part of the Barcelona Art Report 2001 Triennial, which this year is entitled 'Experiences'. Subiros's concept is to highlight the vitality and wealth of contemporary African art, in the context of the ever-increasing rate of urbanisation of the continent.

The exhibition is divided into three areas. An introductory space containing works on the theme of relations between Africa and the world features El Anatsui (Nigeria), Godfried Donkor (UK) and Berry Bickle (Zimbabwe). The central space comprises eight "art-city" areas, grouped into three: Dakar, Abidjan and Paris; Lagos, Harare and London; and Johannesburg and Cape Town. From Johannesburg are Penny Siopis and Santu Mofokeng, while Willie Bester, Zwelethu Mthethwa and Jane Alexander make up the Cape Town contingent. Moshekwa Langa exhibits alongside Bodys Isek Kingelez (Congo) and Samuel Fosso (Central African Republic) in the final space, looking at new forms of individuality and subjectivity to emerge in contemporary Africa.

For more information, e-mail Teresa Roig at

Closing: September 11 2001

Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, C/ Montalegre 5, 08001 Barcelona
Tel: +34 93 306 41 48
Fax: +34 93 481 77 52

David Goldblatt

David Goldblatt
House in 'authentic Cape Dutch' style. Agatha, Tzaneen, Transvaal, 10 April 1989


First David Goldblatt retrospective in the US

Veteran photographic essayist David Goldblatt will be honoured with a retrospective opening this week at New York's Axa Gallery. The exhibition, co-curated by Corinne Diserens and Okwui Enwezor, will cover over 50 years of the master photographer's work. Goldblatt is known for the cool and incisive manner in which his forceful black and white photographs captured the essence of the very strange society that was apartheid South Africa. Although Goldblatt's work has frequently been included in US exhibitions, and he has showed in recent years at the prestigious Museum of Modern Art in New York, this is the first time his work will be shown in such depth in the United States.

Opening: August 16
Closing: October 6

Axa Gallery, 787 Seventh Avenue, NY, NY 10019
Tel: 212 554 4818

Siemon Allen

Siemon Allen
'Stamp Collecting - Imaging South Africa'

Siemon Allen at the Corcoran

As a young artist in Durban, Siemon Allen sold his family's stamp collection as a piece of art. In recent years, feeling the loss, he set about tracking down, reconstituting and adding to the original collection, thus investigating the history of subtle visual propaganda represented by the tiny images. Allen (subject of ArtThrob's June Artbio) is now based in New York, and 'Stamp Collecting - Imaging South Africa', his extraordinary assemblage of more than 8 000 postal stamps issued in South Africa since the colonial era, opened at the prestigious Corocoran Gallery in Washngton on Saturday June 30. The event was considered important enough to draw a short story in the Footlights section on the front page of the New York Times Arts section (June 26).

"The postal stamp operates as both official currency and as a miniature work of art with distinct aesthetic qualities", says Allen. "But the stamp is also a highly mobile record of visual propaganda, reflecting how a country at a given period sees itself and seeks to present itself. It disseminates a narrative, on both local and global levels, that speaks as much about what is shown as what is not."

Not only does Allen display the stamps of the past, he also presents a few of his own suggested possibilities, featuring contemporary South African icons, such as television's Gladiators.

     See Reviews

Opening: June 30
Closing: August 13

Corcoran Gallery
Washington DC

William Kentridge

William Kentridge
Casspirs Full of Love, 1989

Photo: New Museum of Contemporary Art

William Kentridge opens in New York

The 11 animated films of William Kentridge are getting the full tour treatment with a survey show currently travelling through the United States and scheduled eventually to end up at the South African National Gallery in Cape Town. Organised by Dan Cameron, Staci Boris and Neal Benezra, the tour's first stop was the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington. Here, each film was given its own viewing space - as Jeff Gibson of ArtForum puts it, "a must for cutting an interpretive swathe through the prickly thicket of Kentridge's content-laden parables". The second venue is the New Museum of Contemporary Art on lower Broadway in New York, where the show opens on Sunday June 3.

Closes: September 16 2001

     See Reviews

New Museum of Contemporary Art, 583 Broadway, New York
Tel: (212) 219 1222

The exhibition next travels to the following venues:

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
October 20 2001 - January 20 2002

Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston
March 1 - May 5 2002

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles
July 21 - October 6 2002

South African National Gallery, Cape Town
December 7 2002 - March 23 2003

William Kentridge

William Kentridge
Medicine Chest, 2001
Animated charcoal drawing
35mm film transferred to video and DVD
5 minutes 50 seconds


William Kentridge at the Yokohama Triennale

The Yokohama Triennale, the first large-scale international exhibition of its kind to be held in Japan, has the broad theme 'Mega Wave - Towards a New Synthesis', with the aim of "developing a new and more comprehensive vision of art for the future, a vision that creates a closer relationship between art and society". Held in the environs of a wharfside development called Minato Mirai 21 in Yokohama city, the triennale features 100 artists from around the world, presenting a diverse selection of painting, sculpture, photography, film, installations, and other art forms. The four artistic directors are Kohmoto Shinji, chief curator at the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto; Tatehata Akira, a professor at Tama Art University; Nakamura Nobuo, director of the Contemporary Art Center, Kitakyushu; and Nanjo Fumio, an independent curator and one of the judges of the 2002 DaimlerChrysler award.

William Kentridge is one of only two artists to be invited from Africa - the other is Nigeria's Oladele Ajiboye Bamgboye. Kentridge will be exhibiting the projection installation Medicine Chest (2001). The artist writes: "In the past I have done several site-specific installations; this is a screen-specific installation - one of a series of projections that use a found screen (écran trouvé, as opposed to objet trouvé). In this case, the found screen is the medicine chest, and this site of projection sets the theme of the piece.

"So it is a reflection on the self - both literally the self reflected in the mirror, as in the self-portraits in the film; and also as in thoughts about the self. The format of a medicine chest is similar to that of newspaper billboards around the streets of Johannesburg, which have the day's headlines on them. Headlines used in the film come from the news events that were reported on during the weeks when this section of the film was made - both local to South Africa (SHOPPING MALL'S BLOODY MONDAY) and international (DOOMED SAILOR'S CHILLING NOTE refers to the Kursk submarine incident). As in other works ... the interest is in finding the visual evocation of the incoherent and contradictory ways we construct a sense of ourselves."

Yokohama Triennale
September 2 - November 11