Archive: Issue No. 51, November 2001

Go to the current edition for SA art News, Reviews & Listings.

21.11.01 Robin Rhode and Bitterkomix on 'Shelf Life' at the Gasworks, London
21.11.01 Minnette Vári and Kendell Geers on 'Casino 2001' in Ghent
14.10.01 Greta Matthews-McMahon on 'Dialogues'in Holland
10.10.01 Conrad Botes on 'In FUMO' in Bergamo, Italy
03.10.01 Candice Breitz in five European cities

07.11.01 Trevor Gould on 'Dust on the Road' in Montréal
31.10.01 'Encounters with the Contemporary' in Washington
03.10.01 William Kentridge tour moves to Chicago
19.09.01 'The Short Century' opens in Chicago

Robin Rhode

Robin Rhode
He Got Game
Live performance

Robin Rhode and Bitterkomix on 'Shelf Life' at the Gasworks

Curated by Smith + Fowle, who were recent visitors to South Africa, 'Shelf Life' presents 13 artists from Europe, South Africa, North and South America, who recognise and utilise the framework of consumer culture in their practice. The exhibition takes place at London's Gasworks Gallery, in the eponymous studio complex affiliated to Johannesburg's Bag Factory and Cape Town's Greatmore Studios.

Alongside young international luminaries such as Kerry James Marshall, Dario Robleto and Will Rogan, South Africans Robin Rhode and Bitterkomix have been included in the mix.

In the project outline, Deborah Smith and Kate Fowle state: "At a time when branding has become an art form, political debates are played out like soap operas, and fashion is successfully making a commodity out of any 'alternative' street-style, artists are challenging the commercial motivation with independent voices. In 'Shelf Life' some artists use appropriation to the point where language is both created and unravelled. Others make visible the incidental or transient situations which create the personality of a city. Together their practice forms an invisible network of resistance to the homogenisation of culture, inevitably crossing social and political boundaries as a result."

Rhode, having recently completed a residency in Berlin, is now in residency at Gasworks as part of this project. The project has also set up affiliations with the Spike Island artists' residency program in Bristol. The touring exhibition, which has been designed by architect Andrea Lang, will consist of commissioned and loaned work, including performances and site-specific installations.

Other artists on the exhibition include Maria Hedlund, who produces photographs that reveal the imprints and scars left on everyday objects and architectural features through constant use. Paul Khera has created a freely available typeface for the post-Soviet generation, which includes characters that contain slogans only visible when the type is used on a large scale. In his ongoing project Rhythm Mastr, Kerry James Marshall takes inspiration from the tradition of Marvel comics to produce his own comic strip, where black superheroes take centre stage in a story that critiques inner-city American culture, by pitching African archetypes against the forces of cyber-technology.

Opening: November 23
Closing: January 13 2002


Gasworks Gallery, 155 Vauxhall Street, London SE11 5HR
Tel: 020 7582 6848
Fax: 020 7582 0159
Hours: Wed - Sun 12 - 6pm or by appointment

Minnette Vári

Minnette Vári
Aurora Australis
Video animation

Minnette Vári and Kendell Geers on 'Casino 2001'

'Casino 2001' is the first Quadrennial of Contemporary Art hosted at the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (SMAK) in Ghent, Belgium. Curated by Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, an independent curator from New York, the exhibition "plays upon the original function of the museum's building as a gambling casino. The shadow of this lineage has left its trace upon the selected artists. 'Casino 2001' relies upon the mythology of American popular and entertainment culture, exemplified by the gambling casino. As with all spectacles, its glittering surface reality has a darker underbelly - addictive, seedy, corrupt and violent. The casino bundles together themed environments of living spaces, shopping, live acts and culture. The participating artists simultaneously thrive within such arenas and approach them with a subversive eye."

Among the emerging international artists selected are South Africans Minnette Vári and Kendell Geers. Vári is exhibiting her most recent piece, Aurora Australis, on show at the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg as a large-scale projection (see Review). Vári writes that on 'Casino 2001', "this piece is displayed on a convex television monitor, entirely set into the wall that has been sculpted into a gentle bulge that meets the screen in a smooth curve. The work shares a big room with an eerily static video projection by Mie Nagai (Japan) and a number of large paintings by artists such as Inka Essenhigh (USA) and Margherita Manzelli (Italy), a fact I particularly enjoy since I like to think of Aurora Australis as a painting."

Vári is also currently participating in 'Styx-Projektionen', a media and video show in Trier, Germany, alongside Bill Viola (USA), Bettina Bachem (Germany), Robert Hutter (Germany), Yongi Truong (Germany), Marian Drew (Australia), Claus Bach (Germany), Andrea Stahl (Germany), Franz Kluge (Germany) and Wim Delvoye (Belgium). See

Closing: January 13 2001

Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (SMAK), Citadelpark, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium
Tel: +32 (0)9 221 1703
Fax: +32 (0)9 221 7109

Greta Matthews-McMahon on 'Dialogues' in Holland

Michaelis graduate Greta Matthews-McMahon, who exhibited at the AVA in Cape Town earlier this year, is currently participating in a group show titled 'Dialogues' at the Azul Gallery in Den Haag. She exhibits alongside artists from Iraq, Holland and Chile.

Opening: November 10
Closing: December 2

Azul Gallery, Westeinde 37A, Den Haag, Holland

Trevor Gould on 'Dust on the Road' in Montréal

South African Trevor Gould, currently living in Canada, is among the artists invited to produce and exhibit work in dialogue with SAHMAT, a network of artists, writers, filmmakers, performers and intellectuals in India that has been working in support of social justice, secularism and human rights since 1989. The resulting exhibition, 'Dust on the Road', is part of a larger project, 'Moving Ideas: A Contemporary Cultural Dialogue With India', that includes exhibitions, film series, lectures and other events in Montréal. Gould has exhibited in South Africa periodically and was included on 'New Worlds: Contemporary Art from Australia, Canada, and South Africa' in London in 1999.

Opening: November 10
Closing: December 15

MAI (Montréal, Arts Interculturels), 3680 rue Jeanne-Mance, Montréal

Conrad Botes

Conrad Botes
Reversed glass painting

Conrad Botes on 'In FUMO' in Bergamo, Italy

Cape Town based artist Conrad Botes, best known for his works for Bitterkomix, is included on the exhibition 'In FUMO (Art, Comics, Communication)', curated by Giacinto Di Pietrantonio, at the Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Bergamo, Italy.

The title comes from the Italian word "fumetto", which is a comic strip, but is also a play on "fumo" or "smoke", calling to mind the speech bubbles which characterise cartoons. The exhibition explores the influence of comics and cartoons in art from the 1960s until the present. South African artist William Kentridge is also included on the show, alongside Stefano Arienti, Giafranco Baruchello, Jean Michel Basquiat, Robert Cuoghi, Marcel Dzama, Keith Haring, Jun Hasegawa, Bertrand Lavier, Roy Lichtenstein, Miltos Manetas, Paul McCarthy, Paul Morrison, Takashi Murakami, Julian Opie, Luigi Ontani, Erik Parker, Diego Perrone, Raymond Pettibon, Lari Pittman, Navin Rawanchaikul, Chéri Samba, Georgina Starr, Ben Vautier, Andy Warhol and Bruno Zanichelli.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue with an introductory text by Giacinto di Pietrantonio (director of the Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Bergamo) which examines the relationship between art and comics, a text by Mariuccia Casadio (art editor of Vogue Italia) which explores the links between fashion and comics, a text by Stefano Casciani (deputy editor of Domus magazine) which looks at the relationship between architecture and comics, and a text by Chloe Piccoli (contributor to Italy's national newspaper, La Republica, and also to the design magazine, Abitare) which discusses the relationship between design and comics.

Opening: September 26
Closing: January 6

Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, Bergamo, Italy

Candice Breitz

Candice Breitz
Installation view, De Appel

Candice Breitz in five European cities

New York based, South African artist Candice Breitz holds solo exhibitions in Amsterdam and Milan and is included on important group shows in Hamburg, Vienna and Berlin from September through to the end of the year.

According to Breitz, artists are serving more and more as literal interpreters of the world: "The nomadic movement of many contemporary artists mimics the movement of global capital across international borders. (...) If the work of the global business commuter is to spread the myth of global connectivity, then the work of the artist (who somehow exists in parasitic relationship to the wealth that global capital creates) is to counter this and similar myths. In this respect, the non-official translations that artists can provide might offer alternatives to the stifling language with which global capital maps the world." (Quote from the catalogue Candice Breitz: Cuttings, via the De Appel website.)

At De Appel in Amsterdam, Breitz exhibits recent video installation works - 'Babel Series' (1999), 'Soliloquy Trilogy' (2000), 'Group Portraits' (2001) and 'Me, Myself, I' (2001) - running parallel with a solo show by Thomas Demand until November 11. Breitz's work will also be seen in Amsterdam at the World Wide Video Festival in October (see News). 'Soliloquy Series' - in which Breitz edits three well-known Hollywood movies, cutting away all but the utterances of the main protagonists to leave a series of cryptic soundbites - is simultaneously on view at Galleria Francesca Kaufmann in Milan.

For the sixth Art Forum Berlin art fair from October 3-7, French curator and video artist Nathalie van Doxell will be screening videos by 12 artists including Breitz, on a bus travelling around Berlin. The project is titled 'Video Tour Europe 2001'.

Breitz's 'Babel Series' features on the group show 'Monet's Legacy: Series - Order and Obsession' at the Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, from September 28 to January 6. The exhibition sets out to explore the different motives behind the serial approach to art adopted by 20th century artists - from Monet to Piet Mondrian, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Donald Judd, Cindy Sherman, Vanessa Beecroft, Roni Horn and others.

Opening on October 18, 'Tele(visions)' at the Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, puts the most popular medium of the 20th century in a contemporary art perspective, showing how artists have incorporated, critically questioned and occasionally reinvented the experience of watching TV in their work. Breitz's work Double Annie, from the series 'Four Duets', is included alongside work by Vito Acconci, Chris Burden, Sophie Calle, Maurizio Cattelan, Tracey Emin, Nan Goldin, Barbara Kruger and many others. 'Tele(visions)' runs until January 6 2002.

Moving to the United States, a video diptych from the 'Four Duets' series is also included on 'Prodigal Prodigy', a group show at the Whitebox Gallery in New York from September 6 to October 13.


Willie Bester

Willie Bester
The Notorious Green Car
Mixed media with found objects
Height 175cm

'Encounters with the Contemporary' in Washington

The Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art has shifted towards a policy of incorporating contemporary art into its holdings over the past few years. The current exhibition, drawn from the museum's permanent collection, is called 'Encounters with the Contemporary', and includes work by South African artists Kim Berman, Willie Bester, Garth Erasmus, Gavin Jantjes, William Kentridge, Ezrom Legae, Karel Nel, Berni Searle, Mmakgabo Mmapula Sebidi, Gerard Sekoto, Cyprian Shilakoe, Durant Sihlali and Vuminkosi Zulu. The work on show is extremely diverse, ranging from an exquisite burnt orange ceramic vessel by Magdalene Odundo of Kenya to mixed media drawings by Godfried Donker, who recently exhibited at the Venice Biennale, and a typical three-dimensional wall piece from Willie Bester incorporating small painted wooden figures, wire mesh, tin cans and a whole lot more, entitled The Notorious Green Car (1995). The general impression given by the show is of a vigorous and energetic continent with a rich artistic heritage.

Closing: January 6 2002

National Museum of African Art, 950 Independence Avenue, Washington DC

William Kentridge

William Kentridge
Casspirs Full of Love, 1989

Photo: New Museum of Contemporary Art

William Kentridge tour moves to Chicago

The 11 animated films of William Kentridge are getting the full tour treatment with a survey show currently travelling through the United States and scheduled eventually to end up at the South African National Gallery in Cape Town. Organised by Dan Cameron, Staci Boris and Neal Benezra, the tour's first stop was the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington. Here, each film was given its own viewing space - as Jeff Gibson of Artforum puts it, "a must for cutting an interpretive swathe through the prickly thicket of Kentridge's content-laden parables". The second venue was the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, and now the exhibition moves to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, where 'The Short Century' is also currently on view.

Opening: October 20 2001
Closing: January 20 2002


Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60611
Tel: 312 280 2660

The exhibition next travels to the following venues:

Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston
March 1 - May 5 2002

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles
July 21 - October 6 2002

South African National Gallery, Cape Town
December 7 2002 - March 23 2003

Kay Hassan

Kay Hassan
1995 - 2001

Photo: Virtual tour of 'The Short Century' by Universes in Universe

'The Short Century' opens in Chicago

'The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa 1945-1994', first seen at the Villa Stuck in Munich and then at the Martin-Gröpius-Bau in Berlin, has opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Curated by Okwui Enwezor, the exhibition encompasses the many faces of African modernism and redefines Africa's place in the annals of 20th century history. 'The Short Century' documents the history of Africa since its partition in 1884/5 during the Berlin Conference, and thus focuses on the second half of the century, a period which began with the liberation from colonialism of certain countries and ended with the first democratic election following the abolition of apartheid in South Africa in 1994.

The interdisciplinary approach of the exhibition links historical documents with contemporary artistic standpoints, and confronts the creations of colonial and anti-colonial propaganda - film and photography, but also poster art, print media and textiles - from both private collections and government archives. This exhibition means that unique examples of regional artistic currents, from the Egyptian awakening to South African resistance art, can now be seen in America for the first time. Architecture and town planning are shown here as an expression of a new, collective self-confidence manifest in the young African states.

The exhibits show personal and collective self-representations of an Africa undergoing urbanisation which is in constant dialogue with the major cities of Europe and North America - many of the continent's leading artists and intellectuals live permanently abroad. Official representations of history are reframed by private pieces of memorabilia: family albums, shrines to memory, memoirs, fashions in dress and popular music take their place alongside traditional art and revolutionary kitsch.

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
Opening: September 8
Closing: December 30 2001

PS1 Contemporary Art Center and Museum of Modern Art, New York
Opening: February 10
Closing: May 5 2002