Archive: Issue No. 50, October 2001

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

10.10.01 Conrad Botes on 'In FUMO' in Bergamo, Italy
03.10.01 Candice Breitz in five European cities
03.10.01 Karl Gietl at Sterkwerk in The Netherlands
19.09.01 Frances Goodman on 'Fluid' in Wolverhampton
19.09.01 Angela Ferreira on 'Total Object Complete with Missing Parts'
05.06.01 'Plateau of Humankind' at the Venice Biennale
05.06.01 'Authentic/Ex-centric' at the Venice Biennale

03.10.01 William Kentridge tour moves to Chicago
26.09.01 Berni Searle at Axis Gallery in New York
19.09.01 'The Short Century' opens in Chicago

28.08.01 William Kentridge at the Yokohama Triennale

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.

Karl Gietl

Invitation to 'There is No Place Like Home'

Karl Gietl at Sterkwerk in Tilburg, The Netherlands

Johannesburg artist Karl Gietl has been living and working in Europe for the past two years. His show at Sterkwerk (the gallery run by Jack Mensink, whose Artifical Shelter Foundation is involved in various South African projects) is titled 'There is No Place Like Home' and comprises about 50 of his trademark small, quirky paintings and four larger pieces, all reflecting the artist's personal experiences in Europe and South Africa.

An e-mail sent to the artist from a friend describes Gietl's work as follows: "Little tranches de vie, always observing, sometimes voyeuristic, sometimes full of humour, sometimes 'naturalistic', sometimes with a touch of cruelty, then a little sad or with pity. Loose, short impressions, as if you're driven around on a bus in the head of the artist, viewing his processed images of life: the dancing general, the café scenes, the 'terrasse' of the Paris bar, the tourists in South Africa, the metropolitan, the Johannesburg skylines, your dreamy self-portrait."

Opening: October 12 at 6pm
Closing: November 24

Sterkwerk, Noordstraat 34, 5038 EJ Tilburg, The Netherlands
Tel: 013 542 1374
Fax: 013 543 0911
Hours: Thurs - Sat 12pm - 6pm and by appointment


The 'Fluid' logo

Frances Goodman on 'Fluid' at Wolverhampton Art Gallery

'Fluid', reads the gallery website, "brings together 15 national and international artists whose work interrogates the inner world of the human body. The show investigates and challenges the perception of bodily functions and fluids within contemporary society and aims to raise awareness around health and social issues and to challenge cultural and social taboos."

Goodman exhibits the audio work titled Voice of Reason (2000) which was included on the Cape Town exhibition 'Juncture' (listen to the work on the 'Fluid' website). Other artists are Fernando Arias, Helen Chadwick, Samantha Clark, May Cornet, Elaine Eckford, Ben Edwards, Mark Francis, Laura Glassar, Mona Hatoum, Max Kandhola, Sarah McCutcheon, Andres Serrano, Helen Storey and Geoff Weston.

Goodman will give a talk on October 17 from 12.30pm - 1.30pm.

Opening: September 15
Closing: November 24

Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Wolverhampton, England
Tel: 01902 55 2045

Angela Ferreira on 'Total Object Complete with Missing Parts' at Tramway in Scotland

'Total Object Complete with Missing Parts' takes its title from a text by Samuel Beckett, meditations on the difficulty of producing objects and authenticating them with a meaning and purpose. Curated by Andrew Renton, the exhibition "explores ideas surrounding the physical object and the ways in which it not only negotiates the space around it, but also produces a physicality, which is not necessarily visible. The emphasis is on works which hint at, rather than literally document, the whole story, and objects which are a manifestation of works which exist elsewhere."

One of 12 artists (others include Fiona Banner and Angela Bulloch), Ferreira exhibits Zip Zap Circus School (2001). A press release reads: "In 1912 Mies [van der Rohe] was commissioned to build a museum house of the Kröller-Müller family. The commission was never executed, but a simple wooden structure, with canvas walls, was rolled into place for a momentary vision of the building that might have been. In the same way, Ferreira interprets a section of preliminary plans by Pancho Guedes for a mew building for the Zip Zap Circus School in Cape Town, applying the same temporary strategy of Mies' structure."

Opening: September 7
Closing: October 28

Tramway, 25 Albert Drive, Glasgow
Tel: 0141 287 3900

Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys
The End of the 20th Century, 1968

Vanessa Beecroft

Vanessa Beecroft
VB00 Sister Project

Minnette Vári

Minnette Vári
Still from REM

Tracey Rose

Tracey Rose
Still from Ciao Bella - Mscast (Sereia)
Photograph by George Hallett

'Plateau of Humankind' at the Venice Biennale

The international exhibition at the Venice Biennale, curated by Harald Szeemann, takes as its starting point Joseph Beuys's 1968 sculpture The End of the 20th Century. As Szeemann explains it, the 'Plateau' offers "a view over mankind" at a point where artists, while rooted in local identities, are feeling a freedom to explore "the eternal in humankind" - "desires, behaviour and ways of seeing that are shared by all human beings". Beuys is seen as a spokesman for this freedom - "He hoped that with the end of the old and the beginning of the new century our warmth would be enough to generate life in the inorganic."

A press release describes the exhibition thus: "On a single large upland (Plateau), from where one can look out to view humankind, young artists from all over the world offer their account of the present day; while alongside them look out those figures who contributed to the artistic revolutions of the 20th century. All present in one single exhibition, without divisions of time or space." In a major point of departure, the 'Plateau' also includes contributions from film (participants include Atom Egoyan and David Lynch), poetry, music, theatre and dance. The massive exhibition extends from the Italian Pavilion in the Giardini di Castelo through to the Arsenale spaces - old shipyards and warehouses which have undergone extensive renovation since the last Biennale - of the Corderie, Artiglierie, Gaggiandre, Tese delle Vergini and Giardino delle Vergini.

Two South Africans, Tracey Rose and Minnette Vári, are among the more than 100 artists hand-picked by Szeemann. Young artists with little previous international exposure are strongly represented on this year's exhibition, while some of the well-known names in the long list include Francis Alys, Vanessa Beecroft, Richard Billingham (recently announced as one of the nominees for this year's Turner Prize), Tania Bruguera, Chris Burden, Maurizio Cattelan, Rineke Dijkstra, Stan Douglas, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Ron Mueck, Gerhard Richter, Georgina Starr, Gavin Turk, Cy Twombly, Bill Viola and Jeff Wall.

Minnette Vári has said she will be exhibiting three video pieces - Oracle, Mirage and REM, although at the time of discussion there was still the possibility of a new work. According to statements by the artist, Oracle references Francesco de Goya's painting of Saturn devouring his children. Vári becomes "a maniacal golem, cramming all the conflicting histories of present-day Africa into my mouth, in a fit of hunger that makes me gag". In Mirage Vári plays with the South African coat of arms, using "the visual conventions of heraldry to impart a sense of ritualised and artificial order, an order that is constantly mutating and is therefore hazardous and unstable - on the brink of a meltdown". In REM, a night-time installation, the artist filmed herself sleeping and edited together the most restless parts into a projected dream sequence - "a tableau of human and animal figures and various objects engaging in a flow of relationships: the hunter and the hunted, the shaman and the devotees, adversaries in combat, the arrival of Europeans in their awkward cattle-drawn wagons".

Tracey Rose will be exhibiting a new video work, Ciao Bella, in which the artist presents a tableau of 13 characters - a reference to the Last Supper and its "classic patriarchal supper club" - and alters the dynamics to play with the notion of alloted roles (roles which the artist too might be called on to play within the staged scenario of a group exhibition). Rose's dinner guests are all women, a disparate congregation who "taunt one another's historical time zones and scoff at one another's histories and politics" - "Saartjie Baartman pores disarmingly over Marie Antoinette/Queen E. An Afro'd mermaid languishes with her plate of hot chips and 'Catch-Up' while the China Doll quotes passages from The Merchant of Venice."

In a press release Tracy Murinik writes: "Rose has commented that theatre has always been an integral socially accepted domain - a place where questions can be posed and new roles adopted, especially when those possibilities do not readily exist in the immediacy of one's lived environment. It is of significance that Tracey Rose plays all the characters on the stage that she has constructed, and it is significant that she creates her characters by transforming simple materials into wondrously fantastical physical constructions. Rose's trademark and tendency are a discreet balance of a veering towards iconoclasm immersed with searing wit and a profound aesthetic."

From what we've seen at ArtThrob, both artists have done themselves justice with remarkable works, at a Biennale which might no longer be the most cutting-edge of world art exhibitions but is still a most prestigious event.

Opening: June 10
Closing: November 4

Venice, Giardini - Arsenale
Tel: +39 041 521 8861
Fax: +39 041 520 0569

Berni Searle

Berni Searle
Snow White, 2001
Video installation (detail)

'Authentic/Ex-centric: Africa in and out of Africa' at the Venice Biennale

Curated by Salah Hassan and Olu Oguibe, with Emma Bedford of the South African National Gallery as associate curator, this major exhibition features the work of seven African and African Diaspora artists - South Africans Willem Boshoff and Berni Searle, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Godfried Donkor, Rachid Koraïchi, Zineb Sedira and Yinka Shonibare. The show's stated aim is to "highlight recent currents in contemporary African art practice through work which speaks directly to issues of representation, memory, Diaspora, expatriation and other aspects of the African experience".

Willem Boshoff's installation Panifice, which means "breaking bread", refers to Christ's question in St Mathew's Gospel: "What man is there of you, whom if his son asks for bread, will he give him a stone?" Boshoff has translated the phrase into multiple languages and inscribed it on 56 stone loaves, made of granite and thus unbreakable, a comment on the absence of fellowship between Africa and the First World. In a similar vein, Berni Searle's video installation Snow White shows the artist drenched in flour which she then uses to make a roll of dough, breaking it into pieces to evoke the meaning of making and sharing bread.

Among the other works, Yinka Shonibare's Vacation has astronauts dressed in space suits made of his trademark African wax-printed cotton textile, demonstrating the complexity of power dynamics between the alien/other and colonialist/explorer. And in Lord Byron's Room, Godfried Donkor uses Byron's reputation as a boxing enthusiast to suggest a close relationship between him and prominent black pugilists of the time, thus exhuming "repressed histories of black presence in Europe".

'Authentic-Ex-centric' is being held at the Fondazione Levi, an old palazzo which opens directly onto the Grand Canal, next to the Accademia Bridge. Work for the exhibition will have been transported by barge, and offloaded through the enormous double doors which open onto the water. The space is a series of rooms, and was also rented for the South African show 'Incroci del Sud/Affinities', which heralded the return of South Africa to the Venice Biennale in 1993.

Opening reception: June 7 at 12.30pm
Opens: June 6
Closes: November 4


Palazzo Fondazione Levi, San Marco 2893, 30124 Venezia
Tel: 041 78 6777
Gallery hours: 10am - 5pm (closed on Mondays)


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

Berni Searle

Berni Searle
Lifeline (detail)
from the Discoloured Series:
digital print

Photo Credit: Jean Brundrit

Berni Searle at Axis Gallery in New York

One of the multitude of events affected by the attack on the World Trade Centre was the opening of Cape Town artist Berni Searle's first solo exhibition in New York at the Axis Gallery in the trendy Chelsea art district of the city. With the virtual shutdown of the lower half of Manhattan, most galleries had to revise their programmes. Originally scheduled to open on September 11, the very day of the attack, Searle's show, entitled 'Still', finally opened its doors last weekend.

'Still' features new and recent work from the artist, and coincides with Searle's participation in 'Authentic/Ex-centric � Africa in and out of Africa' at the Venice Biennale, an exhibition which has drawn critical acclaim in American art journals, being held up as a bright point in an otherwise dreary biennale. Searle's work was also seen recently at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, which exhibited a major installation of her work.

An award winner at the last Cairo Biennale, Searle has become known for work in which she uses her own identity as a woman of colour to question constructs of gender and race. In photographs, video, performances, and installation, Searle has coloured her own naked body with spices and stains, offering herself up to the camera in classic poses which read very differently from those familiar from art history. In Searle's 'Colour Me' and 'Discoloured' series, the spices and Egyptian henna covering or staining her body connect her body to trade routes and destinations, and suggest bruising, wounding, burial, oppression, and suffocation.

A finalist for South Africa's Vita Art Prize last year, Searle is considered to be one of the country's most watchable artists.

Opening: September 11
Closing: October 27


Axis Gallery inc., 453 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011
Tel: 212. 741 2582
Fax: 212. 924 2522

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


William Kentridge

William Kentridge
Medicine Chest, 2001
Animated charcoal drawing
35mm film transferred to video and DVD
5 minutes 50 seconds

William Kentridge at the Yokohama Triennale

The Yokohama Triennale, the first large-scale international exhibition of its kind to be held in Japan, has the broad theme 'Mega Wave - Towards a New Synthesis', with the aim of "developing a new and more comprehensive vision of art for the future, a vision that creates a closer relationship between art and society". Held in the environs of a wharfside development called Minato Mirai 21 in Yokohama city, the triennale features 100 artists from around the world, presenting a diverse selection of painting, sculpture, photography, film, installations, and other art forms. The four artistic directors are Kohmoto Shinji, chief curator at the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto; Tatehata Akira, a professor at Tama Art University; Nakamura Nobuo, director of the Contemporary Art Center, Kitakyushu; and Nanjo Fumio, an independent curator and one of the judges of the 2002 DaimlerChrysler award.

William Kentridge is one of only two artists to be invited from Africa - the other is Nigeria's Oladele Ajiboye Bamgboye. Kentridge will be exhibiting the projection installation Medicine Chest (2001). The artist writes: "In the past I have done several site-specific installations; this is a screen-specific installation - one of a series of projections that use a found screen (écran trouvé, as opposed to objet trouvé). In this case, the found screen is the medicine chest, and this site of projection sets the theme of the piece.

"So it is a reflection on the self - both literally the self reflected in the mirror, as in the self-portraits in the film; and also as in thoughts about the self. The format of a medicine chest is similar to that of newspaper billboards around the streets of Johannesburg, which have the day's headlines on them. Headlines used in the film come from the news events that were reported on during the weeks when this section of the film was made - both local to South Africa (SHOPPING MALL'S BLOODY MONDAY) and international (DOOMED SAILOR'S CHILLING NOTE refers to the Kursk submarine incident). As in other works ... the interest is in finding the visual evocation of the incoherent and contradictory ways we construct a sense of ourselves."

Yokohama Triennale
Opening: September 2
Closing: November 11