Archive: Issue No. 53, January 2002

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Robert Hodgins

Robert Hodgins
Ek Sal Vir Jou So 'n Klap Gee
2001
Oil on canvas
91 x 121cm

Doreen Southwood

Doreen Southwood
Slipway
Installation view, 'Homeport', V&A Waterfront

Minnette Vári

Minnette Vári
Aurora Australis
Video animation

Alan Alborough

Alan Alborough
Standard Bank Young Artist 2000
Installation view, Standard Bank Gallery

Clive van den Berg

Clive van den Berg
Love's Ballast
2001
Mixed media installation

Bridget Baker

Bridget Baker 'Official BB Project' Installation view, US Art Gallery, Stellenbosch

Robin Rhode

Robin Rhode
He Got Game
2001
Live performance

Siemon Allen

Siemon Allen
'Stamp Collection: Imaging South Africa', 2001
Installation view

Tracey Rose Tracey Rose
Ciao Bella
2001
Performance, DVD installation

Jeremy Wafer Jeremy Wafer
Untitled
2001
Vinyl, wood, oil paint


Artthrob's Best (and Worst) of 2001

A look back at the highs and lows of the year 2001 in art. Which South African artists made the greatest impact at home and abroad? Which galleries and sponsors deserve the most recognition for their initiatives and support? Artthrob's regular writers - Sue Williamson, Kathryn Smith, Virginia MacKenny and Paul Edmunds - and editor Sophie Perryer each selected their top 10 artists of the year and top 5 exhibitions/projects, and together compiled lists of the best newcomers, galleries, sponsors, publications and competitions. Our choices are unashamedly personal and, with three out of five writers based in Cape Town, the geographics are clearly skewed. Nonetheless the following lists pay tribute to a remarkable year in which South African artists made major inroads internationally and continued to mature and flourish at home. Congratulations to all.

Submit your nominations for the best and worst of 2001

Top 10 artists of the year

(in no particular order, and with some curators thrown in)

Sue Williamson's Top 10

1. Moshekwa Langa for his poetic mapping of yarn cones, tangled threads and bottles, entitled The Mountains of my Youth - A Novel on 'Juncture'
2. Robin Rhode for turning his athletic fantasies into art. Also on 'Juncture', Rhode animated still digital shots of himself lying on the road to make a quirky video simulating the high-flying leaps of an Olympic jumper
3. Bridget Baker for her 'Official BB Project' culminating at the US Art Gallery, which combined wackiness with conceptual ideas of good citiizenship and fiscal management
4. Tracey Rose for wowing them at the Venice Biennale and for a pretty and poignant tribute to a drag artist who died by her own hand, Ode to Leoness
5. Minnette Vári for her unique videos, the latest of which, Chimera, was commissioned for the World Wide Video Festival in Amsterdam
6. Willie Bester for his powerful 'Dog of War' at the Goodman - and we'll allow our glance to slide over his other potboilers
7. Candice Breitz for having an important solo show in the OK Center for the Arts in Austria, and for being on more shows in Europe this year than any other South African artist
8. Greg Streak for his Dreams in Red/Leaving (Blue)/Jaundiced (Yellow) shown on 'Body: Rest and Motion' at the Oudtshoorn Festival
9. Brett Murray for leaping into video with The Heroes, which examined the stupidity of nationalism and creeds - a theme the artist addresses on a show currently at the Bell-Roberts
10. Hylton Nel for a lifetime of flawlessly flawed works in ceramic, drawing on sources simple and profound, but always thoroughly beautiful, not to say engaging

Kathryn Smith's Top 10

1. Robert Hodgins for an outstanding retrospective at the Aardklop Arts Festival
2. Robin Rhode
3. Retha Erasmus for curating 'Clean' and quietly winning the PPC Young Concrete Sculptor competition with her exquisite minimalist "polyliths"
4. Marcus Neustetter for curating 'switch on/off' at the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees and 'online_offline' at RAU
5. Jane Alexander as surefire winner of the DaimlerChrysler Award for Sculpture 2002
6. Kim Lieberman for making international inroads, her exquisite work on 'Clean' and her solo exhibition at Camouflage which won her a Vita nomination
7. Jose Ferreira for 'South: Voyages into mutant technologies', Maputo, Mozambique
8. Alan Alborough
9. Clive van den Berg for his artistic direction of the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees and a beautiful solo show at the Goodman Gallery
10. Minnette Vári

Sophie Perryer's Top 10

1. Doreen Southwood for everyone's favourite installation at 'Homeport' and an immaculate solo show at the Bell-Roberts
2. Bridget Baker for her wonderful piece on 'Holland South Africa Line' and wacky 'Official BB Project' in Stellenbosch
3. Jo Ractliffe for consistently intriguing work, beautifully packaged for her 'Taxi' monograph
4. Minnette Vári for her flawless video works, and for catching Harald Szeemann's eye
5. Robin Rhode for his strikingly fresh, funny perspective
6. Robert Hodgins - "50 years a painter" and still unsurpassed
7. Siemon Allen for his clever portrayal of South African history through stamps
8. Alan Alborough for the unique vision of his Standard Bank Young Artist tour
9. Candice Breitz for taking Europe and America by storm with her media manipulations
10. Kendell Geers for continuing to produce hard-hitting work for numerous international shows

Virginia MacKenny's Top 10

1. Bronwen Findlay for keeping her painting fresh and alive and for her ability to energise the theme of the domestic
2. Daina Mabunda for turning the ordinary objects in our lives, like the mosquito on a Doom can, into beautiful and consequential works of art
3. Jeremy Wafer for consistently measured and thought-provoking work that is still good to look at
4. Clive van den Berg for enigmatic and almost alchemical transformations of base matter into meaningful, powerful and personal works
5. Willem Boshoff for quantities of projects, both local and international, which continue to celebrate cerebral manipulation, plus his firm commitment to South African art
6. Robert Hodgins for continuing to make great paintings for so long
7. Robin Rhode for imaginative, challenging and socially relevant work that still leaves room for us to laugh
8. Walter Oltmann for keeping wonder and fascination alive in the realm of the obsessively handmade in contemporary art
9. Tracey Rose for theatre and the enigmatic in her work at the Venice Biennial
10. Minnette Vári for continuing to produce videos of visual manipulation that prompt thought

Paul Edmunds' Top 10

1. Clive van den Berg for continually and consistently reinventing his oeuvre
2. Wim Botha for his physically and conceptually dense work, the third installation of which I eagerly anticipate
3. Brad Hammond for his quiet, unassuming work, in the hope that he won't abandon these shores forever
4. Kevin Brand for both his productivity and acute visual sensibility
5. Usha Seejaram for her video piece The Opposite of Illustration, one of the few real engagements with the medium I've seen
6. Robin Rhode for his apparently casual but carefully planned performance
7. Mustafa Maluka in the hope that he'll return to SA
8. Frances Goodman for the rather alarming Voice of Reason she explored in her work on 'Juncture'
9. Dave Southwood for the striking mix of intuition and experience so evident in his work
10. Andrew Putter whose work as producer and co-ordinator of 'YDETAG' seems unsurpassable to me

Top 5 exhibitions/projects of 2001

Sue Williamson's Top 5

1. The Joubert Park Project, curated by Dorothee Kreutzveldt, Bie Venter and Jo Ractliffe, which not only presented a gritty and engaging exhibition in the darkened space of the Johannesburg Art Gallery, but also ran an extended programme of cultural workshops and activities
2. 'Authentic/Excentric' at the Venice Biennale, for drawing excellent reviews in the overseas art press, even if we could only see it in the catalogue
3. 'Juncture' at the Granary - professionally mounted and very well curated
4. William Kentridge, whose highly impressive retrospective has been pulling respectful reviews and interested audiences in Washington, New York and Chicago
5. 'Switch on/off' - Marcus Neustetter's interesting selection of electronically based artworks shown on the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees in Oudtshoorn

Kathryn Smith's Top 5

1. The Joubert Park Public Art Project
2. 'CMMSSNR' by Stephen Hobbs at the Original Levi's Store, Sandton City
3. 'Clean' at Millennium II, curated by Retha Erasmus
4. 'Blindspot', Vrededorp, Johannesburg
5. Jan Neethling and Robert Hodgins at Art on Paper

Sophie Perryer's Top 5

1. The Joubert Park Project for making the Johannesburg Art Gallery seem relevant again
2. 'Homeport' for taking challenging art to the Waterfront
3. 'Juncture' at the Granary in Cape Town for its cross-country curation and excellent presentation
4. 'Authentic/Ex-centric' for making Africa visible at the Venice Biennale
5. Bridget Baker's solo show at the US Art Gallery for systematic craziness

Virginia MacKenny's Top 5

1. The Joubert Park Public Art Project
2. Artists for Human Rights HIV/AIDS Billboard project
3. Bronwen Findlay, Daina Mabunda and Faiza Galdhari's collaborative exhibition
4. The FNB Vita Art Prize 2001 exhibition
5. Standard Bank Young Artist for 2001 Walter Oltmann

Paul Edmunds' Top 5

1. 'Juncture' at the Granary for showing us what a difference adequate funding makes
2. Alan Alborough's Standard Bank Young Artist 2000 exhibition
3. Doreen Southwood at Bell-Roberts for a beautifully produced, uncomfortably edgy body of work
4. Bridget Baker at the US Art Gallery for being a "good citizen"
5. Robert Hodgins at João Ferreira for the light but strong touch he brings to everything

Top 10 Newcomers

1. The MTN New Contemporaries award
2. The | Premises at the Civic - making up for the loss of Camouflage
3. Christian Nerf
4. Gwen van Embden
5. Usha Seejarim
6. Mbongeni Richman Buthelezi
7. Linda Jones for her show at the NSA which travelled to Grahamstown
8. Doreen Southwood for her solo show at Bell-Roberts, and for harnessing the seductiveness of rippling water to the crispness of text on 'Homeport'
9. Matt Hindley for coming up with a genuinely innovative video project in 'Allow Me to Observe'
10. Vuyisa Nyamande for his extremely funny video pastiche on 'Homeport' which presents the idea of a summer holiday in Cape Town as a decidedly mixed experience

Top South African Shows Overseas

1. 'Authentic/Ex-centric' at the Venice Biennale
2. Siemon Allen at the Corcoran in Washington DC
3. Claudette Schreuders' sellout show in New York
4. William Kentridge's US touring retrospective
5. Candice Breitz all over Europe and in the US

Top Galleries of 2001

1. Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg - just turned 35 and showing no signs of slowing down
2. NSA Gallery, Durban, for hosting challenging exhibitions like the Vita while maintaining a broad range of other shows to satisfy an incredibly diverse constituency
3. The | Premises at the Johannesburg Civic Theatre, which has mounted six local and international experimental events and exhibitions in four months
4. The South African National Gallery, for being brave enough to clear their floors for a youth directed art event like 'YDETAG'

Best Sponsors of 2001

1. Sasol for the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees and for keeping their collection transparent and current
2. The Young Designers Emporium for 'YDETAG'

Best Publications of 2001

1. The 'Taxi' series of art books - a great initiative
2. Fresh: Senzeni Marasela
3. Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees visual art catalogue
4. 'Authentic/Excentric' catalogue
5. Standard Bank Young Artist for 2001 Walter Oltmann's catalogue

Best Competitions of 2001

1. DaimlerChrysler Award for Sculpture 2001 for clear judging
2. FNB Vita Art Prize for a generally strong, cohesive show
3. ABSA Atelier Award - great money and attracted some of our top young contemporary artists
4. MTN New Contemporaries for its stated aim of encouraging young curators as well as artists

Worst of 2001

1. The closure of Camouflage gallery in Johannesburg
2. The lack of activity at the newly launched CrossPathCulture studios in Newtown. The promises of major activity, opportunities and exchange between Johannesburg and New York (and other centres around the world) have yet to be fulfilled
3. Alan Alborough missing out on a Vita nomination
4. The outdated text in the 'Soul of Africa' catalogue, verging on modernist colonisation. Definitely needed the education supplement put together by local academics such as Philippa Hobbs to help bridge the gap
5. The pricing of the latest books in the 'Taxi' series, putting them out of range of the very audience they are aiming at
6. The presentation of the 'Taxi' book on Samsun Madzunga - with none of the gloss or colours of the others in the series. It might well support some of the content of the art but ends up looking as though the "black guy" has been shortchanged in relation to his white peers
7. Daddy Buy Me A Pony's cruel treatment of a rat at 'YDETAG'
8. The Johannesburg Art Gallery keeping the doors on the Joubert Park side chained, even though the Joubert Park Project is on, because they say they cannot manage the security.

Readers' submissions

Nic Dawes

Highlights

1. The trace of infinite patience in Paul Edmunds' show at João Ferreira
2. Moshekwa Langa - now that's what I call African conceptualism
3. Alan Alborough's Standard Bank Young Artist tour
4. Robert Hodgins reminds us that he is our most compelling painter
5. William Kentridge crosses the Atlantic in style
6. Jane Alexander wins the DaimlerChrysler award for all the right reasons, even with Harald Szeeman running the show
7. Gregor Schneider's 'Totes Haus Ur' for the German Pavilion at Venice

Disappointments

1. 'Authentic/Ex-centric' at the Venice Biennale, a fragmentary and poorly theorised view of contemporary art from Africa and the diaspora, although Yinka Shonibare's Vacation 2000 was one of the standout works of the entire biennale
2. 'YDETAG' - great idea, great crowd, great sponsor, all compromised by dodgy work, an epic queue, and a party space completely separated from gallery space by that queue
3. 'The Plateau of Humankind' at Venice for miles and miles (literally) of banality
4. Video (with some striking exceptions, like Doug Aitken at the Serpentine Gallery)

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