enters its second decade online, it's interesting to look back, and draw a few comparisons between then and now. The second Johanneburg Biennale, curated by Okwui Enwezor opened 10 years ago this month, winning international plaudits and introducing local artists to a larger art world. Sadly, the premature closing of the Biennale was also its death knell. Subsequent attempts to launch an international event on a similar scale have all floundered. 'Africa Remix', now up at the Johannesburg Art Gallery, has come closest to generating something of the same excitement. See Reviews
However, the curators who did come to the Biennale took note of what they saw, and in the intervening years, invitations to South African artists to participate in global art events of all kinds have increased steadily, to the point that there are now at least a dozen artists whose work is on exhibition somewhere in the world at any one time. Artists like David Goldblatt, Candice Breitz, Kendell Geers, Berni Searle and the young photographer Mikhael Subotzky would be on this list.
The year 1997 was also the year of Documenta X, the year William Kentridge, already well known at home, really made an impact with his cinematic projections in Kassel. His practice, combining the theatrical with the visual in unprecedented and groundbreaking ways has continued to break barriers and sell out theatres all over the world. His brilliant version of Mozart's 'The Magic Flute' has a short season in Cape Town this month.
Coverage of the art field has also increased - ArtThrob was a voice in the wilderness when we launched, now the respected print journal Art South Africa recently celebrated its fifth birthday, under the editorship of Sean O' Toole, and Gabriel Clarke-Brown's newspaper format Art Times reports on current art events.
Let us raise a glass to the next ten years. And to art. And most of all, to artists.
NEXT UPDATE: Monday, October 8
While William Kentridge's much anticipated prouction The Magic Flute opens at Artscape this month, two other heavyweights, Penny Siopis and Jeremy Wafer, weigh in at Michael Stevenson and Goodman Gallery Cape respectively this month. And watch out for Bridget Baker at João Ferreira. Strijdom van der Merwe shows at Focus, and in Franschoek, Grande Provence opens an outdoor sculpture garden.
Kathryn Smith has her first solo outing since her Standard Bank Young Artist Award show, this time at the Goodman. Joachim Schönfeldt opens at Art on Paper and Antoinette Murdoch returns after an absence of some length. Warren Siebrits Modern and Contemporary presents a show of Walter Battiss' pop-influenced works.
The big exhibition this month is a riposte to recent criticisms that Durban does not have a vibrant art scene. New KZNSA Director Brenton Maart takes the bull by the horns in 'Right Before Your Eyes' which shows vibrant, exciting young artists all of whom are featured in Durban - A Paradise and its People, a new book by art journalist and artist Peter Machen. Santu Mofokeng's exhibition 'Invoice' at the Durban Art Gallery is another eagerly awaited show.
So busy have artists from South Africa become, that the task of listing all their exhibitions internationally is becoming impossible. Some like Mikhael Subotzky and Berni Searle are showing at a number of venues simultaneously. Check this month's list for a very full agenda.
Despite the fact that the 'conflation of cowhide and female forms risks entrenching the idea of woman as passive, reproductive commodity' and risks an essentialist reading of her work, Nandipha Mntambo takes up this challenge in 'Ingabisa', her first solo outing at Michael Stevenson. The result, argues Tavish McIntosh, takes on these associations 'hyperbolically', and deflates their power.
In a less-than-flattering review Anthea Buys, writing for ArtThrob for the first time, takes issue with Nontsikelelo 'Lolo' Veleko's 'Mute!Scream!Mute!', which she decries as theoretically underdeveloped and unprofessional on a number of levels. Brenden Gray reviews Ann-Marie Tully's 'Non Facturé' at Gordart Gallery, a show of paintings which bases itself on digital and filmic images, capitalising on 'notions of flawed representation'. The watercolours in particular, seem 'to wrestle with the fate of painting in an age of surveillance and spectacle'. Landi Raubenheimer attended the third 'Africa Remix' panel discussion. The evening's contributions revealed a project fraught with difficulty, with all of its terms of reference - 'African', 'Western', 'identity' - turning out to be vague, contested and problematic. 'Can anyone', she asks, 'get beyond the problematic legacy of African colonialisation? Not yet it seems, and not anytime soon.'
'Breathing Spaces' showcases a partnership between photographer Jenny Gordon and historian Marijke du Toit, examining Durban's South Basin, where a working class community lives in the shadow of large industry, and whose health has been acutely affected by this over the years. With contributions from affected parties and an archive of viewers' comments, this project, Carol Brown contends, is 'an excellent example of how art can be genuinely socially committed and where the voices of the curators are shared with those of the subjects in a manner which is empowering and still satisfies the aesthetic demands of a fine exhibition.' 'Right before your eyes', a group show held at the launch of Durban artist and journalist Peter Machen's Durban - A Paradise and its People, should have, according to Julian Brown, 'been a mess'. Rather it is a highly successful showcase of work by numerous Durban-based and -associated artists, carefully hung with thought-provoking juxtapositions throughout.
Walter Oltmann scoops the coveted Sasol Wax Art Award. Tavish McIntosh reports on the opening of several new art venues in the Western Cape's winelands. World art star Marlene Dumas will have her first solo exhibition in this country when 'Marlene Dumas: Intimate Relations' opens at the SANG in November. The DaimlerChrysler South African Architecture Exhibition opens in Johannesburg, showcasing winner Heinrich Wolff's diverse output. Berlin-based Adrian Hermanides, who grew up and studied in Durban, recently visited there for two performances. He writes for us a very evocative piece on his hometown. Artist and journalist Peter Machen launches Durban - A Paradise and its People. Carol Brown reports on that and on artSPACE durban's proposed showing at the Normand Dunn Gallery at the Hilton Arts Festival.
Cyrille Varet, president of Dessine l'Espoir, responds, in an open letter, to Kendell Geers, the story of whose stolen work we ran last month.
The dog ate Ed Young's homework. Or, to put the matter literally, Young knocked a can of beer over his laptop, allegedly after he had written this month's contributions, and was unable to rescue the information from his sozzled harddrive.
Pierre Fouché whose tapestry of a family photo with echoes of the homoerotic won this year's ABSA award, is this month's focus.
The dog ate Ed Young's homework.
Michaelis advertises two posts - Senior Lecturer/Lecturer in Fine Art post, and Senior Curator: Centre for Curating the Archive. Submissions are invited for a show at first South African Sexpo, while the International Digital Art Festival Rosario invites contributions, and VANSA Western Cape seeks a Coordinator.
Nothing interesting to report from the front, unfortunately.
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ditions for ArtThrob Portfolio Two 2004 - 2007 is about to be launched with seven prints from six artists - Mikhael Subotzky, Penny Siopis, Guy Tillim, Sue Williamson, Lolo Veleko and Jane Alexander. Packed in an archival linen solander box, the ten Collector's Portfolios are selling at R40 000 each.
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