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Annika Lundgren
Lectures 1997 - A Closer Look
at Everything: Ethics
Video still

Annika Lundgren
Lectures 1997 - A Closer Look
at Everything
Video still

Elin Wickström
A Portrait of Mr Weimar -
The Man Who Every Thursday at
Seven Makes a Meal for Himself
and Mr Matzner in the Kitchen
at Kellermanstrasse 87
Detail from the easel binder, a portable
paper board used by the artist for the
presentation of the project

Elin Wickström presents her project


Matts Leiderstam
The Day Family
(The Power and Pleasure
of Breeding)
1998 (detail)
The Day Family by
Abraham Cooper RA


'Transpositions' - Contemporary Swedish art

In many ways, this exhibition by five Swedish artists is a quiet, understated show. The scale of the pieces, by international standards, is modest. The tone is civilised, or so it seems. It would be rather easy to glance around quickly, and leave. Those who do will have missed the opportunity to engage in a sophisticated and highly enjoyable dialogue quite unlike the general no-holds-barred coming-on-like-gangbusters South African approach to art making.

There is Annika Lundgren, with seven videos shown on a row of monitors. This series is called Lectures 1997 - A Closer Look at Everything. Playing on the parade of so-called experts who fill our daily lives with information on every possible subject, Lundgren positions herself in front of a video camera in her home and regales us with her own amusing and absurd lectures on such important subjects as the plot of an imaginary soap opera, or body parts, or the evolution of packaging - "a few practical tips for dealing with existence", says the artist.

Elin Wickström too uses her own life as the source of her work. In Munster, Germany, last year for an exhibition, Wickstrom was warming herself up with coffee in a cafe when she noticed an advertisement in a local paper - a Mr Weimar, in Munster for weeks on end on business, was advertising for someone to lend him a kitchen one evening a week, so he could again enjoy home cooking ... Wickström answered the advertisement, and the mundane story of Mr Weimar and their subsequent meetings and meals is the subject of a half-hour story she will tell anyone who will give the time to listen at the South African National Gallery. A series of stiffly rendered illustrations in magic marker are shown to the audience during the telling at various points in the story.

In Cape Town, Wickström has placed a similar advertisement in a local paper, and the story of those meetings will be told elsewhere. The interesting part of it all for us, the audience, is at first the reluctance to commit ourselves for a whole 30 minutes for something which may not prove that interesting, but it may seem rude to leave half-way through. In deciding to take the plunge and listen (as if 30 minutes out of our lives is such a big deal anyway), we find ourselves assessing ...oh yes, I am enjoying this, after all, thank goodness. Wickström tells her story with great care - every detail must be recounted correctly. For her, this art project has been about the honing of the life skills of listening, and communicating, and dealing with loneliness in a strange place through turning it all into art. And for us ... well, you have until May 10 to find out. One man in our listening group, admitting his own loneliness, was proposing marriage by the end of the session.

In the voorkamer of the National Gallery, a selection from the Gallery's superlative collection of British hunting paintings has been hung as a foil and background to Matts Leiderstam's piece. Leiderstam has chosen one of them, The Day Family, to make his own copy, adding to the title in brackets (The Power and Pleasure of Breeding). There are the horses, the family, as in the original - only the direction of the gazes of the subjects has altered. Leiderstam works with the hidden codes, often homo-erotic, to be found in art historical paintings. The result is diverting in the extreme.

And then there are the witty but also thought-provoking pieces by Mans Wrange with his Monument - Democratic Coffee Table with Fair Coffee Pot and Equal Coffee Cups and his specially minted coins, and two fine installations about the terror that lurks beneath daily life by Elisabet Apelmo.

Co-curators Emma Bedford and Asa Nacking are to be congratulated. The exhibition ends on May 10.



Steven Cohen and Elu
in performance at Joao
Ferreira Fine Art

Performance detail

Peet Pienaar and Barend de Wet


Steven Cohen hits Cape Town

João Ferreira opened his new gallery space above CD Fox in Hout Street in April with a party and a series of performances by Steven Cohen and his partner Elu. The space being too small to accommodate the hordes who descended, a bank of videos on the street below conveyed the action in the gallery to those outside. Personally, I think one needed to be in the confined white space upstairs to experience the riskiness, the bravado of the performances - four short set-pieces. Most of the time one can only admire Cohen's chutzpah as he allows firecrackers inserted into his arse to burn dangerously close to the skin, or totters out of the small office at the back, balanced on high heels in turn balanced on one huge elephant foot and one bull's foot and leaning heavily on crutches, dragging a springbok head on a chain behind him. The performances themselves, with titles like Dog, Ugly Girl, Faggot and Jew and Pig have moments of true beauty and symbolism and other moments of mawkishness and melodrama, but in their over-the-top way, they raise real issues. Steven Cohen is the subject of this month's artbio.

Post-performance, Ferreira is showing three hand-painted silkscreens by Cohen, and an installation of the photographs taken of the four pieces.

* On Saturday May 16 at 11am, Peet Pienaar and Barend de Wet will present a new performance entitled 'Everything is Art'.



Diane Victor
It's All Right, She's Dead 1997
Pastel and charcoal on paper
150 x 220cm

Gordon Froud
The Constitution: A Mad
Hatter's Tea Party
Mixed media in PVC
130 x 60cm

CJ Morkel
Installation view
'Volition' 1998
Enamel paint on metal
and mixed media

Installation view


Three Gauteng artists at the AVA

One of Diane Victor's professors once named her as the best draughtsperson in South Africa, and faced with her impeccably drawn figures, her virtuoso handling of flesh modelled in the cold pale blues and reds of the mortuary, it is an assessment with which it is hard to disagree. This exhibition is called 'Vitiate' (to make imperfect, soil, corrupt, defile, soil, pervert), and Victor's subjects seem to inhabit a world where the violence and humiliation that can exist in personal relationships are in the ascendance. In It's All Right, She's Dead, the naked figure of a woman lies on a couch. The title is apparently addressed by the policeman taking notes to the hero, a comic book version of Tarzan, who is bursting too late onto the scene with a dripping blade. Or was the hero also the murderer? Narrative content aside, this introduction of colour and flat imagery is a new departure for Victor. Perhaps it might have been integrated a little more fully into this particular piece, but it's an interesting direction nonetheless.

Gordon Froud shows a series of work entitled 'Vestiges' (glimmer, hint, remnant, relic, remainder, residue, scrap, trace) which plays off the Alice in Wonderland story, equating absurd scenes in this with comparable boo-boos by our own government. It all seems rather forced and heavy-handed. Untitled, I might have enjoyed them more. The format Froud has adopted is to make collages encapsulated in see-through vinyl packs, like large-scale Taiwanese party games. By and large, the contents of each are too fragmented and arbitrary to make a strong visual statement.

Upstairs, CJ Morkel has enclosed the ArtStrip in black plastic, with a warning notice outside to those with delicate sensibilities. A statement from the artist at the entrance presupposes the criticisms he is obviously expecting by telling us that he enjoyed making his work - 'Volition' (choice, discretion, free will, option, preference, resolution, will) - and he hopes we will enjoy looking at them. Behind the black curtain, the Strip is lined with Morkel's brilliantly coloured enamel paintings on metal, mainly of big boobed women engaged in such activities as sticking the muzzle of a gun up their vagina. Definitely take-it-or-leave-it work, underlined by the final piece of the show, a self-portrait of the artist with raised finger. Backgrounds in solid colours deny any context to the figures and while defending the right of an artist to choose his own subject, there is something about these pieces which seems closed to any other interpretation except the obvious.

Next up at the AVA: Land artist Strijdom van der Merwe exhibits from Monday May 11.



Gavin Younge
To Hold a Beating Heart 1998
Found objects and vellum
2 units, 120 x 160cm

Julia Clark
I Want to Carry Everything
With Me Forever
(detail) 1997-98
Found objects
Variable size


Twelve Contemporaries at the Idasa

Julia Teale curated this show as the inaugural exhibition of one of Cape Town's new gallery spaces, the Idasa, in Spin Street. In her catalogue essay she introduces her selection of artists as covering a spectrum from those "whose vision was forged in the crucible of the struggle era" to "young emergent artists" to those "determinedly pursuing fiercely independent positions". It is not easy to present a cohesive exhibition of such a disparate group, particularly when so many disciplines - from ceramic sculpture to straight photographs to photographic installation to painting etc etc - are involved, so perhaps it is better to simply enjoy individual offerings rather than to look for links. Of these, take special note of Kevin Brand's wall piece entitled Madonna, Child - Witness, executed on blocks of punctured softboard in low-key shades of shellac. Enjoy Julia Clark's gentle and idiosyncratic installation of domestic objects, often adorned with images, and avert your eyes from Delise Reich's banal, corny and badly made ceramic plaques entitled The Birth of Venus and Venus d'Afrique. Gavin Younge presents his mother's dressing table and objects covered in vellum. Evocative - but one does wonder if it is not time for Younge to stop covering things with vellum - and Sipho Hlati shows mixed-media drawings. Until June 5.



Nien Schwarz
Search (detail) 1998


Australians exhibit 'Vital Signs'

Seven artists from the Canberra Institute of Arts are showing work at the revamped gallery at the Michaelis School of Fine Art in Orange Street. The exhibition, entitled 'Vital Signs', opens at 6pm on Wednesday May 6, and continues until May 22.



A piece from Rodney Place's
exhibition at the Hänel


Rodney Place at the Hänel

'De Source of de Nile' is a series of portaits of Sigmund Freud. An exhibition based on verbal puns is always on shaky ground, and these visual witticisms on the subject of Sigmund Freud, while well fabricated in interesting materials, are attractive but lack depth. Until the end of May.


A detail of a computer
manipulated photograph
by Rolf Moser

Rolf Moser

Swiss photographer Rolf Moser looks back to the 1994 elections with a series of computer-manipulated images of photographs taken at the time. Opening at the Glen Guest House in Sea Point on April 29. Phone 439-0086.

Listings continued: Johannesburg and Durban

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