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Archive: Issue No. 46, June 2001

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12.06.01 Kendell Geers at Delfina in London
12.06.01 Gregg Smith's Lovephones in London
12.06.01 'Dis/locations' at PhotoEspaña 2001
12.06.01 Zwelethu Mthethwa at Art 32 Basel
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
22.05.01 'The Short Century' opens in Berlin
22.05.01 'new ideas - old tricks' in Dortmund, Germany
15.05.01 Important show for Candice Breitz in Austria
15.05.01 Kendell Geers at the 2nd Berlin Biennale
United States
29.05.01 William Kentridge in New York

Kendell Geers

Invitation to 'Where Angels fear to Tread'

Kendell Geers

Kendell Geers
Installation view


Kendell Geers at the Delfina Project Space in London

Kendell Geers, a resident artist at the Delfina studios in London, presents a series of new installations at the Delfina Project Space, titled 'Where Angels Fear to Tread'. According to a press release, Geers has installed a white corridor 10m in length within the entrance area of the gallery, with hospital swing doors at either end and lined with rows of bright orange body bags. "These remnants of death and disposal suggest mass violence and the sanitised, clinical manner in which entire histories are summarily and hastily discarded."

The corridor provides the only, discomforting entrance and exit to the main exhibition space, which houses a series of projected text works. "What Does D.I.A.N.A. Stand For (2000) consists of slides projected from a rapidly revolving slide carousel. Each slide presents a joke taken directly from the internet, referring in the most tasteless and callous terms to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Silent Night (2000), a projection of more than 1 000 abusive terms in rapid succession, again highlights what is present in everyday existence. As the visitor approaches, the projection pauses pointedly on a single obscenity." The press release concludes: "Kendell Geers holds a mirror to humanity and presents the evidence with devastating neutrality."

Opening: Tuesday June 19
June 20 - July 29 2001
Gallery hours: Wednesday to Sunday 11am to 6pm

Delfina Project Space, 51 Southwark Street, London SE1

Gregg Smith

The Lovephones in London

Gregg Smith's Lovephones in London

Cape Town artist Gregg Smith is currently in London, where he has set his Lovephones project in motion again. The Lovephones were first seen at the Cape Town One City Festival last year. Smith researches and records the true love stories of a diverse range of people, and then plays the stories back on phones in public places. This time in collaboration with local artist Tara Sampy, The Lovephones' London manifestation was launched at the Gasworks Gallery on Saturday June 9.

Smith writes: "Once again the project aims to get out of the gallery and this time around we have a phone which will be placed in various public meeting places, cafés, pubs, libraries, leisure centres and the like. It rings whenever someone walks in and if you pick it up it plays a true love story from someone in London."

Appearances are scheduled at Camberwell Leisure Centre on Wednesday June 20 from 6-8pm, and at Livesey Children's Museum (Old Kent Road) on Saturday June 23; there will also be a number of informal appearances. For more info about the latter, or just to get in touch, call Smith on 0785 587 0776.

The Lovephones can also be accessed from June 9 to 30 on 020 7582 7386 (normal call charges apply).

Opening: June 9
Closing: June 23

Sue Williamson

Sue Williamson
with Tracy Gander and Arnold Erasmus
Can't forget, can't remember
Installation view

'Dis/locations' at PhotoEspaña 2001 in Madrid

PhotoEspaña 2001, the international photography festival, will take place at one of the most important cultural centres in Madrid, the Circulo de Bellas Artes, from June 13 to July 15. Organised by La Fabrica, under the artistic direction of Oliva Mario Rubio, the theme of this edition, the fourth, is 'From the South'. One of the exhibitions, curated by Danielle Tilkin, curator of the Spanish show on the first Johannesburg Biennale in 1995, is entitled 'Dis/locations' and includes works by Cape Town artists Dave Southwood and Sue Williamson.

Southwood will show work first seen on the Oudtshoorn festival, a series of knockout photographic portraits with the self-explanatory title People who other people think look like me. Williamson will show the interactive CD-ROM piece Can't forget, can't remember (with computer design by Tracy Gander and sound by Arnold Erasmus). In this piece, viewers stand in the centre of a darkened space behind a lectern on which a mouse is placed. Images from two of the cases which came up before the TRC are projected, as texts from the commission transcripts scroll down. Moving the mouse over these texts activates them, and recordings taken from the actual hearings are played - or cut short. With this control over what is said, the viewer assumes the role of judge/jury.

Opening: June 13
Closing: June 15

Circulo de Bellas Artes, Madrid
Tel: 34 91 360 13 20
Fax: 34 91 360 13 22

Zwelethu Mthethwa

Zwelethu Mthethwa

Zwelethu Mthethwa at Art 32 Basel

Zwelethu Mthethwa is among the top artists exhibiting at 'Art Unlimited', the main exhibition at Art 32 Basel, this year's incarnation of the world's leading art fair. Mthethwa will be showing a new video installation titled Crossings and a new series of photographic works. Big names at 'Art Unlimited' include Vanessa Beecroft, Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon, Mona Hatoum, Jenny Holzer, Ellsworth Kelly, Paul McCarthy, Pipilotti Rist, Richard Serra and Jane and Louise Wilson.

Opening: June 13
Closing: June 18

Messe Basel Messeplatz, Basel, Switzerland

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.

Also see News

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.

Emma Bedford will report on the Venice Biennale for ArtThrob in the coming weeks.
Also see News

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

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

Pascale Marthine Tayou

Pascale Marthine Tayou
3 Cameroon Embassy, 1998

Moshekwa Langa

Moshekwa Langa
Untitled, 1996

'The Short Century' opens in Berlin

Now on the second leg of its tour, the exhibition 'The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa 1945-1994' is being hosted by the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Cultures) in Berlin, and will be showing at the spacious Martin-Gropius-Bau from May 18 to July 29 2001.

The exhibition, first seen at the Villa Stuck in Munich and scheduled to continue to major venues in the United States, was curated by Okwui Enwezor, artistic director of Documenta 11. With this exhibition, Enwezor encompasses the many faces of African Modernism and redefines Africa's place in the annals of 20th century history. 'The Short Century' documents the history of Africa since its partition in 1884/85 during the Berlin Conference, and thus focuses on the second half of the century, a period which began with the liberation from colonialism of certain countries and ended with the first democratic election following the abolition of apartheid in South Africa in 1994.

The interdisciplinary approach of the exhibition links historical documents with contemporary artistic standpoints, and confronts the creations of colonial and anti-colonial propaganda - film and photography, but also poster art, print media and textiles - from both private collections and government archives. This exhibition means that unique examples of regional artistic currents, from the Egyptian awakening to South African resistance art, can now be seen in Germany for the first time. Architecture and town planning are shown here as an expression of a new, collective self-confidence manifest in the young African states.

The exhibits show personal and collective self-representations of an Africa undergoing urbanisation which is in constant dialogue with the major cities of Europe and North America - many of the continent's leading artists and intellectuals live permanently abroad. Official representations of history are reframed by private pieces of memorabilia: family albums, shrines to memory, memoirs, fashions in dress and popular music take their place alongside traditional art and revolutionary kitsch.

Opening: May 18
Closing: July 29

Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Cultures), John-Foster-Dulles Allee 10, D-10557 Berlin, Germany
Tel: +49-30-397 87 0
Fax: +49-30-394 86 79

Malcolm Payne

Malcolm Payne
10 Canons of Stupidity
Video installation

'new ideas - old tricks' opens in Dortmund

"Innovation, technological competence and 'global playing' are acknowledged as the armour necessary for the fight for survival in the 21st century. The old myths of progress with smart new outfits promise the unstoppable emergence of tomorrow's world - a world which apparently offers a boundless individual playing ground for all who behave appropriately. The motto: Eat or be eaten!

"However it is undeniable that this global progressivity is deeply interwined with the historically known structures of violence, exploitation and exclusion. Old content in new packaging? Business as usual?

"The exhibition 'new ideas - old tricks' presents critical and/or ironical artistic reflections on strategies of resistance and of divergence in contemporary art in the context of a 'glamorous' future and a 'dark' past" - curatorial statement.

The international cast of artists consists of Daniel Garca Andjar, Peter Brosens, Camera Austria, Catherine Chalmers, Harun Farocki, Romuald Karmakar, Bettina Lockemann and Elisabeth Neudrfl, Cape Town based Malcolm Payne, Dan Perjovschi and Jorg Schlick.

Among the works on show, Catherine Chalmers uses the cool aesthetics of lifestyle magazines to underline the principles of merciless competition in her photo series Food Chain. Daniel G Andjar's Phoney programme offers the internet user ways of interaction which forces the viewer to take up the decision of using communication technologies legally or illegally as a tool or as a weapon.

In his video installation 10 Canons of Stupidity, Malcolm Payne creates a contradictory picture of South African cultural identity interspersed with the crisis of Western intellectual culture. The suggestive film of an African ritual is criss-crossed, among other things, with images of political icons and South African daily realities as well as passages out of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations.

Opening: May 11
Closing: July 1

hARTware Projekte, Guentherstrasse 65, Dortmund, Germany
Gallery hours: Tues - Fri: 4pm - 11pm; Sat - Sun: 2pm - 11pm
Tel/fax: +49 (0)231 88 20 240

Candice Breitz

Candice Breitz
Four Duets, 2000
Video installation

Candice Breitz

Candice Breitz
Rainbow Seriew, 1996

Important show for Candice Breitz in Austria

Linz in Austria is one of the foremost centres for digital and new media art in Europe, and it is here, at the OK Center for Contemporary Art, that the first comprehensive exhibition showcasing the multimedia work of the New York based, South African born Candice Breitz opened on May 9.

Breitz has been exhibiting internationally since 1996, when she first gained wide recognition for the Rainbow Series, a group of photomontages that combine crudely cut-out and sometimes mutilated fragments of the bodies of black and white women in an exploration of the removal of human values and the blurring of identity when women are treated as pornographic or postcard images. Breitz's practice then, and in subsequent series, has been to recontextualise images that she has isolated from the existing cultural and media landscape. Found images and extracts of footage - from National Geographic to Hustler, Hollywood movies to M-TV - are momentarily cut away from their usual environments, then concisely edited and reconfigured.

Complex questions of identity formation and representation are at the core of the earlier photographic works, leading to the more recent video installations which increasingly pursue Breitz's interest in what she has called "the scripted life", and in which the artist turns her editing impulses towards critical interpretations of the codes and icons of pop culture and the entertainment industry.

Breitz's work effectively reintroduces us to familiar movies, pop stars and love songs, inviting the viewer to revisit terrain in which public and private memory implode into one another. Photographic excerpts, filmic sequences and linguistic moments are extracted from the confines of linear narrative and predictability, then reassembled in such a way that they now offer themselves to the viewer as filters through which to reconsider the context from which they were originally captured. Speech is cut up into split-second syllables and sentences are sucked out of dialogues, pushing language to the edge of comprehensibility. Multi-channel installations like the Babel Series and Karaoke poignantly dramatise the extent to which we are formed by the language that mediates and maps our daily experience, evoking the fundamental and sometimes ominous ways in which the vocabulary of the mainstream media determines and regulates our relationships to each other and to ourselves.

In Four Duets (2000), for example, four sentimental love songs are given the Breitz treatment. Each duet consists of two monitors which face each other: on the first monitor of Double Karen, Karen Carpenter mouths endlessly the words "me me me", while on a second facing monitor, another loop edited from the same song plays out Carpenter's melancholic longing for the other, as she croons "you you you". In Group Portraits, Breitz whitens out the very items which the advertisement is attempting to sell, thus subverting the togetherness which use of the product seems to imply, and suggesting perhaps that insatiable consumerism is the new lingua franca of the global village.

Opening: May 10
Closing: July 15

OK Center for Contemporary Art, Dametzstrasse 30, A-4020 Linz, Austria

Breitz is simultaneously exhibiting the 10-channel video installation 'Karaoke' on the inaugural show of the New York Center for Media Arts. The group exhibition, titled 'Electronic Maple: Human Language and Digital Culture in Contemporary Art ', brings together artists from America, Asia and Europe who address the relationship between art and technology through diverse media including video, laser, internet installation and electronic music performance. Exhibiting alongside Breitz are Mat Collishaw, Thomas Bolt and Sebastian Currier, Masaki Fujihata, Soo Cheon Jheon, Eduardo Kac, Tony Oursler and Nam June Paik.

NY Center for Media Arts, 45-12 Davis Street, Long Island City, NY 11101
Email: or

Kendell Geers

Kendell Geers
Medusa Dreaming, 1999
Video installation

Kendell Geers

Kendell Geers
Medusa Dreaming, (detail) 1999
Video installation

Photos: Universes in Universe

Kendell Geers at the 2nd Berlin Biennale

Kendell Geers is the only South African artist exhibiting at the 2nd Berlin Biennale, which opened on April 20. Curated by Saskia Bos, director of the De Appel Foundation in Amsterdam, the Biennale presents work by 49 artists from 31 countries. Apart from Geers, the only other artist to hail from the African continent is Pascale Marthine Tayou of Cameroon.

A press release cites Bos's curatorial approach as focusing "on artists and works of art which connect to the other, to the viewer, or engage in issues that have a social or participatory character. Concern, contribution, connectedness with the world outside are explored in the show, as well as an awareness and critique of the art system with all its layers, its codes and self-referentiality." A two-volume catalogue in English and German accompanies the exhibition.

A virtual tour of the Biennale courtesy of the Universes in Universe website reveals Geers to be exhibiting the video installation Medusa Dreaming (1999) at the Viaduct Jannowitzbrücke. At the same venue are Carlos Amorales of Mexico, British artist Fiona Banner, David Claerbout, Little Warsaw (András Gálik and Bálint Havas) and Henrik Häkansson.

Earlier this year Geers - who, according to a CV on the Biennale website, now divides his time between London and Leipzig - held a solo show titled 'Televisionaries' at the Wurttembergischer Kunstverein in Stuttgart.

Opening: April 20
Closing: June 20


William Kentridge

William Kentridge
Casspirs Full of Love, 1989

Photo: New Museum of Contemporary Art


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

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