Hands up whoever’s still got any money left after October? It’s difficult to talk about art when the world seems to be falling apart around your ears. Bespoke Investment Group, on their website bespokeinvest.typepad.com
, states that the current decline in the week ending on October 10 2008 ‘ranks second as the worst Monday to Friday change for the Dow since 1900’ beaten only by the week ending on December 14 1914. Though art can be notoriously slow in registering economic drama, one senses that the scarcity of red dots on walls below artworks in many commercial galleries is a fairly good barometer of how the effects of the global downturn are going to be felt short term in the art world.
Nonetheless, one’s mind turns inevitably to the long term effects on the art world of such upheaval: a natural attrition of commercial spaces? An overall retraction of public funding? An end to the art boom, especially at the lower end of the market? In the midst of this, Johannesburg artist Ismail Farouk’s award-winning proposal for the first annual Sylt Quelle Cultural Award for Southern Africa suggests one answer. Farouk, an astute urban geographer and creative solutions man, has proposed a project in which he will work closely with the trolley pushers that service a portion of the inner city’s commuting population. In this project he will mediate between this segment, local government, the inner city community and the police, the latter frequent harassers and persecutors of the trolley pushers. Farouk, who is an outspoken critic of police corruption and extortion tactics, seems to be forwarding a certain brand of activism the likes of which, in the light of the inevitable cull of gallery artists, holds potential for revitalizing art in SA.
The sad news of Peter Schütz’s death reached ArtThrob this month. Schütz’s influence is detectable throughout SA contemporary art, whether directly as an authoritative presence in SA sculpture or through his long career as a lecturer. You will be sadly missed and fondly remembered, Peter.
NEXT UPDATE: December 7.
As the year draws to a close, the commercial galleries prepare for the Christmas frenzy with group shows at Michael Stevenson, João Ferreira and the newly opened UCA Gallery. Blank projects gets in on the festive scene at its new space with an ironically titled group show 'Bad Form'. The same ironic and sceptical bent characterises Lizza Littlewort's contribution to 'How the troubles started' at Whatiftheworld / Gallery. Rejuvenated from his sojourn in Paris, Pierre Fouché presents an exhibition at Bell-Roberts that lacks the same disillusioned air, but nonetheless promises good viewing.
Just before Gauteng empties out entirely for the annual coastal invasion, galleries host the last good show. Wim Botha opens at the newly renamed Brodie/Stevenson (formerly Art Extra) with his first solo at a Johannesburg-based gallery. Jodi Bieber's 'Real Beauty', for which she interviewed and photographed ordinary women about their idea of beauty, opens at the Goodman, while Stefanus Rademeyer's 'Crystalline Variations' opens at Warren Siebrits. The Judith Mason retrospective, entitled 'A prospect of icons', remains on show at the Standard Bank Gallery until the first week of December.
The major events this month take place at the Durban Art Gallery. The eagerly awaited exhibition of Timbuktu scripts is a highly significant project which has its first showing in Durban, and Nontsikelelo Veleko's Standard Bank Young Artist award exhibition reaches Durban with her sassy and exciting photos providing an insight into urban life. Bronwen Vaughan-Evans opens 'Memento Mori' at Bank Gallery.
Photography and video feature prominently this month, with the openings of 'Short Stories in Contemporary Photography' featuring Guy Tillim, 'Across Oceans', a solo show by Bearni Searle in Norway, 'Beyond the Familiar' with David Goldblatt and Zwelethu Mthethwa in Massachusetts, and an exhibition of contemporary South African Photography in Berlin. Candice Breitz will launch the new Temporäre Kunsthalle in Berlin with her solo exhibition 'Inner + Outer Space'.
Cara Snyman interviewed David Brodie about the emergence of Brodie/Stevenson, a joint venture by Brodie and Cape Town's Michael Stevenson.
Carol Brown pays tribute to sculptor Peter Schütz, who died last month in Durban.
Joe Palmer approaches Clive van den Berg's 'New Work' at Goodman Gallery Cape as an
examination of the 'archive', both exploring its nature and establishing its own
constraints in this body of work. He concludes, 'That to remember is also always to
dismember suggests that the archive is inexorably amnesic. Nevertheless, what van
den Berg's visual archive suggests is the possibility of recuperating this
forgetfulness.' Fabian Saptouw also reviews van den Berg’s show, finding that ‘through the use of sophisticated metaphors he manages to convincingly traverse the boundaries between the corporeal, geographical and psychological’.
Youssef Nabil's 'Cinema' at Michael Stevenson takes as its premise
Barthes' postulation that 'viewing a photograph foregrounds the finiteness of life'.
The hand-coloured portraits of friends and associates, as well as a number of
self-portraits, depict not only what has been but what is to come - death,
ultimately that of Nabil himself, writes Joe Palmer.
Cara Snyman unpacks Kim Lieberman’s ‘Human Constellations’, up at Gallery AOP. Though finding much to recommend the show, Snyman argues that the body of work is ‘marred by repetition’. Michael Smith’s review of Jo Ractliffe’s ‘Tereno Ocupado’ will appear later this month.
Examining the relation of much contemporary SA photography to the documentary, and showcasing work by Abrie Fourie, Zwelethu Mthetwa, Berni Searle and other artists who employ the camera, 'Construct: Beyond the Documentary Photograph' is a 'tribute to the evolving power and democracy of digital photography', writes Peter Machen. Tracy Payne's 'Awaken' is the artist's first signifcant showing in Durban. Carol Brown finds her new paintings, rooted in her emergence from a series of traumatic life experiences, to be fascinating, presenting an exploration of the dichotomies and structures of the Chinese philosphy of Yin and Yang. Ultra-red's 'Silent: Listen' was a potentially powerful piece of Aids activism and installation art, which makes overt reference to John Cage and Robert Rauschenberg's 1952 collaboration, but, argues Carol Brown, which was made less effective by its lack of contextualisation for the average viewer and its rarified inhabitation of an art gallery.
In an exhibition which includes 100 contributors and over 350 works, purporting to explore an 'urban history of photography', Amy Halliday finds many areas ripe for African and South African photography, which but for a few exceptions is largely ignored. 'Street and Studio' closed at the Tate Modern on August 22.
Ivana Abreu reviews Avhashoni Mainganye's 'Journey', an exhibition of paintings, collages and sculpture.
Hentie van der Merwe wins the third and final Sasol Wax Art Award for his work entitled Reaching New Frontiers. Bongani Mkhonza reports back on Sessions Luanda, recently hosted by the Cape Africa Platform Young Curators Programme. Ismail Farouk wins the first annual Sylt Quelle Cultural Award for Southern Africa.
The final installment from our GIF-torturing visual terrorists Avant Car Guard. Cheers lads, it’s been great having you on board! In a text diary, Sue Williamson recounts highlights of a recent trip to a New York deep in the throes of election fever.
This month’s ARTBIO is floating around ArtThrob’s nebulous ether, and will be up very soon.
Chad Rossouw browses the latest additions to the Bell-Roberts' online magazine presence, Itch and Snapped
Chad Rossouw is impressed by breadth and depth of Katherine Bull's Data Capture: a muse, which was recently hosted by Blank Projects.
The AVA calls for proposals from emerging curators and Greatmore studios celebrates its 10th anniversary with a raffle. African Art Centre in Durban is looking for a Development Officer.
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ArtThrob is proud to add a new print by artist Lisa Brice to the Editions for ArtThrob series. In 2007, the theme of adolescent lust was the focus of Brice's solo exhibition 'Base One Two Three' at the Goodman Gallery Cape. This print continues the theme of the desire mixed with confusion of youth, in a three colour lithograph printed on the presses of the Michaelis School of Fine Art by Stephen Inggs and Andrea Steer.
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