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Archive: Issue No. 43, March 2001

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


27.03.01 'Short Stories' opens in Milan
06.03.01 Supermarketed' at London's V & A
27.02.01 'Head North: Views from the South African National Gallery Permanent Collection' opens in Sweden
20.02.01 'The Short Century' opens in Munich
United States
13.03.01 Claudette Schreuders at Jack Shainman, New York
13.03.01 Jürgen Schadeberg at the Axis Gallery, New York
16.01.01 Recent South African acquisitions at the Smithsonian

Minnette Vari

Minnette Vari
Mirage, 1999
Video Animation


'Short Stories' opens in Milan

Curated by Roberto Pinto and a curatorial team comprised of Vasif Kortun, Apinan Poshyananda, Anne Pasternak and Eugenio Valdes Figueroa, an exhibition entitled 'Short Stories' opens in in La Fabbrica del Vapore on March 28.

No less than 27 artists will be participating, including Fernando Arias Gaviria, Tania Bruguera, Alison Cornyn & Sue Johnson, Nick Crowe, and South African artists Kendell Geers and Minnette Vari.

Opening: March 28

La Fabbrica del Vapore, Milan

Chris Mew

Chris Mew
Sugar Daddy
Installation view at the V & A, London
159 x 144 cm

Lisa Brice

Lisa Brice
Just do it
Installation view
97 x 65 cm

Supermarketed' at London's V & A

Consumerism and branding are issues which seem to be coming under global attention from artists. Cape Town group Public Eye will be focussing on these issues with Soft Sell to be presented at the SANG in September, and in London, young British artist Chris Mew, who spent some time working in Cape Town last year, has curated and is currently presenting 'Supermarketed' at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, at the invitation of the museum. In conjunction with the 'Brand.New' exhibition at the V&A, Mew's proposal invited artists and other creative people to explore, through discussion and the making of art works, the complex and contradictory world of consumerism and branding.

Mew himself is one of the participants, and other South African artists are Lisa Brice, Wayne Barker and architect Anna Cowan. Each piece is exhibited within a large presentation cabinet located in the main entrance to the museum for one week between January and March - the programme ends on the 21st of this month.

Seen by every visitor to the museum, the displays have been attracting considerable attention. Barker treated London to a typical Coca Cola in Africa piece, complete with Sellotape and rubber gloves. Chris Mew's Sugar Daddy features a large blow up of an image of Santa Claus. In a statement, Mew says, "Father Christmas, having become a materialist icon adopted for the benefit of consumer culture, is depicted here amidst the branded bags left behind in the aftermath of frenzied shopping. The event being over, he loses all purpose and reason for being. It was strange to see this image post celebrations and peoples' reactions to it, it was as if he had no reason for being there, he became a mis-fit. The plastic bags helped to add to this. He became a waste product who, like the bags themselves were made to be thrown away."

Lisa Brice, who has worked on Cape Town gang lore and the significance of tattoos before, here shows Just Do It, a blow up of a torso showing a nipple, a bullet hole, and various tattoos including a Nike logo. Says Brice, "This image is investigating the phenomenon of a sporting logo appropriated by gangs as part of their public persona. The display of loyalty to a chosen brand as an identity, establishes a distinguishing uniform in territorial gang activity. The crime and violence associated with gangs gives their adoption of a slogan such as Nike's Just do it, an ominous slant.'

Closing: March 21

Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Jane Alexander

Jane Alexander
Integration Programme: Man with TV 1995
Plaster, clothing, oil paint, plastic valise, cabinet, television set, chair, video film, wood base
138 X 100 X 200cm

Lisa Brice

Lisa Brice
Make your home your Castle (detail), 1995

'Head North: Views from the South African National Gallery Permanent Collection' opens in Sweden

For first time ever, a representative selection of works drawn entirely from the Permanent Collection of the South African National Gallery in Cape Town went on display internationally when 'Head North' opened at the BildMuseet, Ume�ring;, Sweden on February 25. The exhibition marks the first round in a series of initiatives between the countries designed to facilitate cultural exchange through visual art.

It started in 1999, when the South African National Gallery was invited by the BildMuseet in Ume�ring;, Sweden to participate in an international exchange programme titled 'Visual Cultures in Dialogue', focusing on an exchange between Swedish and South African partners working in the fields of art and museology. Participating institutions are Ume�ring; University, BildMuseet, University of the Witwatersrand, University of the Western Cape, Robben Island Museum and the South African National Gallery, and the exchange is funded by SIDA, the federal Swedish Development Agency. The goal is to develop a new understanding of how contemporary society is portrayed, how history is examined and how new target groups can be reached in both environments.

'Head North ', jointly curated by the BildMuseet and the SANG, aims to present a broad view of contemporary South African art and in particular a view of the work held by our national gallery. The works on show include Jane Alexander's 'Integration Programme: Man with TV', Lisa Brice's 'Make your home your Castle', Billy (Buyisile) Mandindi's 'Fire Games', Jackson Nkumanda's 'The Presidential Inauguration', Willie Bester's 'Head North', and Sue Williamson's 'Can't Forget, Can't Remember'. The exhibition links itself strongly with South African history and the way that artists have critiqued that history. It is also representative of the aims of SANG, which reflect the desire to break down barriers between cultures and modes of cultural production in order to become as inclusive and nationally representative as possible.

'Head North' is the first of a number of jointly developed projects between the South African National Gallery and the BildMuseet, that include education programmes, seminars, lectures and exhibitions which will be staged over the next two years, within the exchange 'Visual Cultures in Dialogue'.

BildMuseet is a museum of contemporary art and visual culture, located in the city of Ume�ring;, regional capital of northern Sweden. Founded and built by Ume�ring; University in 1981, expanded in 1994, the museum facilities comprise seven exhibition halls with an exhibition area exceeding 1400 m2. Over 100 000 visitors per year make BildMuseet one of the most visited art institutions in Sweden. In recognition of the quality and breadth of their work, the Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs has assigned the museum a national role within the field of contemporary art for the three-year period 2000 - 2002.

Look out for further developments in this exchange.

For more information on 'Visual Cultures in Dialogue' as well as the exhibition and related programmes please contact Kathy Grundlingh at tel. (021) 4651628 or e-mail

Opening: February 25
Closing: May 01

BildMuseet, Ume�ring;, Sweden

The Villa Stuck in Munich.

Front cover of the catalogue.

'The Short Century' opens in Munich

' The Short Century of Africa: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa 1945 -1994', which opened this month at the Villa Stuck in Munich, is an attempt by curator Okwui Enwezor to construct a contemporary "critical biography" of the continent through a multi-disciplinary presentation of art, documentation, photography and film. The exhibitiion will continue to the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, and from there to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and the MOMA institution PS1 in New York.

In a catalogue essay, Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker, director of the Museum Villa Stuck, says 'The Short Century' "documents for the first time a fascinating, multi-faceted Modernism and Counter-Modernism that emerged in Africa out of the ruins of colonialism. It describes the impact of independence and liberation movements on the African continent between 1945 and 1994 on the visual arts, literature, film, photography, music, and architecture. Its interdisciplinary strategy aims to provide as comprehensive a view as possible. The guiding principle behind the exhibition (and the publication accompanying it) is the "archive" and, in the words of Okwui Enwezor, its "insistent and forensic will to recollect and interpret history." Histories of Africa have all too often been colonial constructs that exclude the antithetical voices and oppositional stances described by V.Y. Mudimbe in the book The Short Century. At the dawn of the twenty-first century Okwui Enwezor brings these voices and stances out of their imposed exile in the margins of Western discourses and places them squarely at the center of twentieth-century Modernism".

The Short Century has been three years in the making, during which time the curatorial team traveled the world locating documents and gathering information not only in cities and remote locations throughout the African continent but also in Paris and London, New York, and even Australia. The colonial history of Africa meant that documents had been dispersed throughout the world, artists had been compelled into exile. The list of more than 90 artists includes world figures like Yinka Shonibare, and Outtarra, and from South Africa, Jane Alexander, Willem Boshoff, Dumile Feni, Kendell Geers, Kay Hassan, Gavin Jantjes, William Kentridge, Sydney Kumalo, Moshekwa Langa, Ernest Mancoba, Santu Mofokeng, Zwelethu Mthethwa, Lucas Sihole, Cecil Skotnes and Sue Williamson.

"Okwui Enwezor" concludes Danziger, "has noted that the crucial question which The Short Century poses and which needs careful consideration today is: what indeed is the place of Africa in the writing of new narratives and conclusions particular to the proper understanding of the twentieth century? In The Short Century we are able to accompany Okwui Enwezor in his very personal search for an answer to this question."

Opening: February 14
Closing: April 22

     See Reviews

Villa Stuck, Munich

Claudette Schreuders

Claudette Schreuders
Owner of Two Swimsuits
Jacaranda wood and paint


Claudette Schreuders at Jack Shainman, New York

Sculptor Claudette Schreuders opens in a solo show at the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York on Friday, March 16. The owners of the Jack Shainman first saw Schreuder's work on the South African survey show, 'Liberated Voices', which opened at the Museum for African Art on Lower Broadway in September 1999, and since then has travelled for the Museum of Art in Austin, Texas and is to continue to the University of Arizona and Stanford University in California.

Schreuders' work received an excellent mention in the New York Times review when the show opened, and one of her sculptures was used to illustrate critic Holland Cotter's piece. The title of Schreuder's new show is 'Burnt by the Sun', and it will consist of eight new sculptures and also drawings and prints. Schreuder's work, the source of which the artist attributes in part to the painted wooden Colon sculptures of West Africa, deals with the white colonial experience in Africa as evidenced by members of her family, and people of her acquaintance. In this new series, the effect of the merciless African sun on white skins is used as a metaphor for the difficulties whites experience in adapting to living in Africa. 'Burnt by the Sun' is also the title of one of the sculptures, first shown on the 'Unplugged 5' exhibition in Johannesburg at the Market Gallery.

Schreuders work was last seen in Johannesburg on the Vita Awards finalists show at the Sandton Gallery last year.

Opening: March 16 Closing: April 14

Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Jürgen Schadeberg

Jürgen Schadeberg
Dancing At the Ritz - Johannesburg, 1952
Black & White photograph

Jürgen Schadeberg

Jürgen Schadeberg
Nelson Mandela's Return to his Cell on Robben Island, 1994
Black & White photograph

Jürgen Schadeberg at the Axis Gallery, New York

It is hard to imagine what kind of images South Africa would have of itself from the 50s and 60s were it not for Jürgen Schadeberg and his fellow photographers at Drum Magazine. In the years since, the photographs have been reproduced continuously, and provide an invaluable legacy of a vivid and vigorous culture which survived in spite of apartheid. Drum proved Black was beautiful. Schadeberg photographed the first black covergirls�one of his many arrests was on suspicion of sex across the color bar while photographing Dolly Rathebe in a bikini on the golden sands of a Johannesburg slagheap. Drum covered black beauty contests and boxing�even Mandela boxed for recreation�and reflected and brokered the emergence of a black urban style influenced by America and its movies. The zoot suit, the hat, the white or two-toned shoes, and the big American car were "in." Even the styling of crime was American. In Johannesburg's vibrant black township of Sophiatown, the biggest gang was called the "Americans." Their toughs had names like "Boston" and "Homicide Hank," and they favored Borsalino, Woodrow or Stetson hats, and drove black limos like Al Capone and Lucky Luciano. Just as the speakeasies of prohibition-era America had been centers of culture and entertainment, in South Africa the illegal shebeen became the core of nightlife, lubricated with illegal alcohol. Here gathered the gangsters and molls, the prostitute and the preacher, the labourer and the tycoon, and the stars of music, writing, and art.
All of this, what Schadeberg calls the "most dynamic and magical decade of South African history," is in Schadeberg's pictures, together with the darkening clouds of life under apartheid: the forced expulsion of Sophiatown's residents, to make way for a whites-only suburb called "Triumph," the first treason trials of Mandela and other leaders, and the massacre of Sharpeville in March 1960. Drum's documentation and affirmation of black experience, beyond the margins of white control, was deeply threatening to the apartheid regime. As Okwui Enwezor, director of the next Dokumenta, remarks, "the work of the Drum photographers exists beyond the realm of the visual and assumes an important ideological function" of transgression and defiance (Enwezor 1996).

A show of Shadeberg's work, mainly from the 50s, opens at Gary van Wyk's Axis Gallery in the fashionable art district of Soho on March 20. The Axis Gallery is playing an increasingly important role in introducing South African artists and photographers to an American audience.

Opening: March 20
Closing: April 28

Axis Gallery, 453 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011
Tel: 212. 741 2582
Fax: 212. 924 2522
Artist's Website:

Bernie Searle

Bernie Searle
Installation view at the National Museum of African Art

Courtesy: Axis Gallery, New York

Recent South African acquisitions at the Smithsonian

In an extended show which was covered on SABC3 TV News recently, the National Museum of African Art in Washington, part of the Smithsonian, is exhibiting recent acquisitions by South African artists. The show includes work by Dakar Biennale prizewinner Bernie Searle, William Kentridge, Willie Bester, and expat artist Gavin Jantjies. In recent years, the NMAA has made a concerted effort to build up its holdings in contemporary art from South Africa. The show is expected to remain in place for many months.