Jo'burg branch of Camouflage to close
The Johannesburg branch of Camouflage, the gallery with a manifesto of "Art.Culture.Politics", will call it a day and close at the end of its current exhibition, the MTN New Contemporaries award show, at the end of September. On its opening in December 1999, ArtThrob's Gauteng editor Kathryn Smith referred to the gallery as "our most relevant space in terms of issues informing the local-global art world".
The gallery, located on Jan Smuts Avenue in Rosebank right opposite the flagship Goodman Gallery, was an extension of the first Camouflage opened in Brussels by Fernando Alvim, the Angolan artist best known in South Africa for his curatorial and artistic involvement in the mega show 'Memorias Intimas Marcas'. Alvim, currently overseas and unavailable for comment, plans now to open a Camouflage in Cape Town. It is not known whether Alvim has yet secured premises for this.
The director of Johannesburg's Camouflage, well known independent curator Clive Kellner, refused this week to be too depressed about the closing of the Johannesburg gallery, saying that it was "not the demise of anything" and that there were now branches of Camouflage in West Africa. Kellner did add, however, that the Johannesburg closing was "indicative of the lack of support" the gallery had received. Kellner himself will no longer be associated with Camouflage, and will be pursuing other curatorial directions.
In its short life, the gallery has hosted some important shows, including an exhibition of work by top international artist Yinka Shonibare, who came to the city for the occasion. Photographer Santu Mofokeng showed his 'Sad Landscapes', and Kim Lieberman hung the gallery with her handsome threaded grids of perforated paper. 'Deconstruction' examined popular culture through the media of fashion, graffiti, dance, music industrial design and film. 'This Space Between Us' was an exhibition of projected images of urban landscapes by photographer Gast Bouchet, who spent time in Johannesburg under the gallery's international residency programme.
Co@rtnews, the magazine on contemporary African culture edited by Alvim and Kellner, will continue and the fourth issue is expected out later this year. The space itself will not be lost to the art community, but will be taken over by the gallery's powerful neighbour, the Goodman Gallery. Director Linda Givon said last week that the Goodman would use the space to show work from the gallery collection, and might on occasion use it as a project room.
Camouflage, Johannesburg will miss you.