SMAC Art Gallery 02

Siemon Allen

Land of Black Gold IV

Land of Black Gold IV , Original comic mounted on board,


Labels , Installation,


Labels , Installation,


Labels , Installation,


Labels , Installation,


Labels 2011, Mixed media installation,
Courtesy of the Goodman Gallery

Land of Black Gold II (detail)

Land of Black Gold II (detail) 2004, Paper and correction fluid mounted on foamcore, 248.9 x 510.5 x 1 cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Courtesy of Guggenheim Museum and Goodman Gallery, South Africa; Photo by Siemon Allen

Labels (detail)

Labels (detail) 2011, 2565 digital prints from the artist's South African audio archive spanning 1901-2011, 1250x370cm


Labels 2011, 2565 digital prints from the artist's South African audio archive spanning 1901-2011, 1250x370cm

Records (installation view)

Records (installation view) 2010, digital prints, 80x80 inches each
Photo by Terry Brown


Records 2010, Installation view,

Current Review(s)

A Record of Labels: A Review of Siemon Allen

Siemon Allen at Iziko Slave Lodge

I remember seeing Siemon Allen’s Records at the Joburg Art Fair in 2010. The work was a series of 12 inkjet prints of old South African records, each around 2m squared. Easily the most beautiful prints at the Fair, I kept returning to look at them, absorbed by the deep velvety blacks and the fine detail. The scuffs and scratches on the record’s surface were writ large, as if one could trace the narrative of the records existence through its wear and usage. 

12 January 2013 - 13 July 2013


'Imaging South Africa': Collection Projects by Siemon Allen

Siemon Allen at Anderson Gallery, VCU

This exhibition will offer the most comprehensive presentation to date of Siemon Allen's 'collection projects'. Over the last decade, Allen has created expansive installations of various mass-produced ephemera—postal stamps, newspapers, audio recordings—that he has methodically acquired and catalogued. In terms of process, he approaches each project like an archivist, researching and assembling artifacts to disclose underlying narratives about their production, dissemination, use, and message. Allen employs the social critique that inevitably arises from his work as a means of interrogating what he describes as 'the contradictory and complex nature of South African identity'.

Encompassing all three floors of the Anderson Gallery, Allen's show will run concurrently with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts' exhibition, 'Darkroom: Photography and New Media in South Africa, 1950-Present'—a portion of which will be on view at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond.

27 August 2010 - 31 October 2010

Venice Biennale

Mary Sibande, David Goldblatt, Andrew Putter, Siemon Allen, Kendell Geers and Nicholas Hlobo at Various venues around Venice

The South African contingent is strong at this year's Venice Biennale, not only in the much-discussed South African Pavilion, but also in the main curated show and several collateral exhibitions:

David Goldblatt and Nicholas Hlobo in 'ILLUMInations'
Bice Curiger (curator): 'La Biennale is one of the world’s most important forums for the dissemination and "illumination" about the current developments in international art. The title of the 54th Exhibition, "ILLUMInations" literally draws attention to the importance of such developments in a globalised world. I am particularly interested in the eagerness of many contemporary artists to establish an intense dialogue with the viewer, and to challenge the conventions through which contemporary art is viewed'.
Venue: Arsenale and Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Giardini

Mary Sibande, Siemon Allen and Lyndi Sales in 'Desire: Ideal Narratives in Contemporary South African Art' (South African Pavilion)
Curated by Thembinkosi Goniwe, this exhibition features South African artists whose work explores a range of realities, memories and fantasies. The artists produce imaginary truths or rather ideal narratives that reflect on South Africa, a country that is simultaneously adored and detested.
Venue: Torre di Porta Nuova, Arsenale Nuovissimo

Andrew Putter in 'Personal Structures'
The exhibition brings together an extraordinary combination of established artists next to artists whose oeuvre is less known. What they have in common is a dedication to the concepts of Time, Space and Existence.
Venue: Palazzo Bembo (by Rialto Bridge, Grand Canal)

Kendell Geers in 'Glasstress 2011'
This exhibition, devoted entirely to glass, features international artists, designers and architects, and includes indoor and outdoor. Brutality and beauty characterize Kendell Geers' object arrangements and material camouflages. Violence, risk, danger, and perpetration carve themselves into the work through poetic language and the unambiguous shaping of the material. Kendell Geers actively pushes the borders and isn't afraid to address banality, kitsch, or sexism. The shift in context and intensification of Geers' work is a result of both the site (Venice) and his focus on working with a specific material.

04 June 2011 - 27 November 2011

'Desire: Ideal Narratives in Contemporary South African Art'

Mary Sibande, Lyndi Sales and Siemon Allen at Torre di Porta Nuova

The works in 'Desire' offer three approaches to re-thinking the ideals and experiences promised by democracy. Here, desire is taken to mean yearning and need, recognising what individuals do not have, but long for. The notion of desire suggests both a lack as well as alluding to the simple motivation behind many human actions and deeds. Desire speaks to crisis and determination. It is an unrelenting force. Nothing is inert, complete and fixed about desire. Neither is desire tangible. It is rather a mystical force that exists in the form of imagination, the aspiring agent inherent with the power to dream. And, desire is the source of both creativity and of art.

Democracy in South Africa provides enabling conditions for artists to explore works of art that centralise their desires, to explore subjects that are no longer restricted to oppressive conditions primarily concerned with apartheid and its consequences. Post-apartheid art tackles a variety of subjects ranging from memory, history and culture to the self, the body, psyche and emotions. Representations of these subjects are imaginative and poetic, more so rendered in subtle and nuanced ways that avoid political over-determinancy. These representations engage the meaning and value of life in the social realm at its most complex and ambiguous levels. Through the works of Mary Sibande, Lyndi Sales and Siemon Allen, the exhibition 'Desire' presents some of these South African artistic developments at the Venice Biennale.

The exhibition is curated by Thembinkosi Goniwe

03 June 2011 - 27 November 2011