Archive: Issue No. 107, July 2006

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Barthelemey Toguo and Gabi Ngcobo before the performance


Body and Soul


Gavin Jantjes


Wim Botha at the Standard Bank


From Bronwen Findlay's 'All About Everything'


Kentrige's 'Black Box'



Friday, June 2

It's� 7.40 a.m. and outside the gym it's raining cats and dogs and inside, it's Rainin' Men, baby, and I'm struggling to keep up with the fast routines while trying to sort out� in my head exactly what I have to do today. As usual, far too much. �

Monday, June 5

Art Moves Africa is a recently established fund to financially support artists going from one country to another within the continent on art projects.� Hear today that� AMA has approved my application to pay for the travel to Kinshasa in order to spend three weeks there in August-September for an Urban Scenography workshop. International artists will work with local artists on communal art projects. So that's good.

Tuesday, June 6

A motley crew of revelers gather on the roof of Joburg Bar summoned by Ed Young and Christian Nerf to celebrate The Last Braai - the significant date is the sixth of the sixth of '06.� Ed and Christian are shortly to follow in the footsteps of the great travelers in Africa and chart their way across the continent as part of a project initiated by Swiss curator Harm Lux. Or at least, they are getting on a plane and flying to Luanda.

Flaming shooters in plastic shot glasses melting rapidly from the heat of the flames deposit unmentionable chemical fumes in the tender bodies of the party people, and everything gets a bit silly. �

Wednesday, June 7

An interesting exhibition opens at Michael Stevenson tonight -� 'Distant Relatives/Relative Distance'. We are really starved of seeing contemporary work from artists from other parts of the continent here, so to have a good show of six fine artists is a real treat. Two of them are here for the show - Senam Okudetzo who grew up in Ghana and now lives in London and Barthelemy Toguo, born in Cameroon and now living in France - and Sophie Perryer hosts a lunch for them at Orange.

At the opening, Barthelemy does a perfomance in which he stands inside a blue oil drum, then reaches down inside and produces a 2 litre bottle of water, To rhythmic melodic murmuring from Gabi Ngcobo - drafted minutes before the start - Tohuo drains the entire bottle in one long sustained series of swallows.

Thursday, June 15

� Oh, dear. An email has just arrived and starts:

� 'Hello,

� This email is to inform you that we have decided to postpone the Urban Scenography residency in Kinshasa to December 06. This is due both to the present political context of the country and an explicit demand of the French Embassy "recommanding" us to delay it. Indeed, next summer will be a period of general elections in DRCongo, the first one since the sixties, and the situation could become tricky. The first tour of the election will take place around the 30th of July and the second tour more or less one month after, which means during the initial period of the residency.'

Love that word 'recommanding'. The iron fist in the velvet glove. So it looks like no Kinshasa this time around.

Saturday, June 17

Another email, this one with a link to the Washington Post review of� 'Body of Evidence' show at the National Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian.

Amongst many other works, Can't Forget, Can't Remember is mentioned. The article is entitled� 'Body' & Soul: Fleshing Out African Art by Lynne Duke, and if anyone else is interested in the show, here is the link:

Saturday, June 17

Body and Soul is also the title of Karina's Turok's new book of photographic portraits of South African women. The book launch is at the Double Storey stand at Cape Town's brand new Book Fair, at the International Convention Centre. So much buzz. Who would have thought so many books were being published in the country. And Karina's book is beautiful, large format black and white photographs and an interview with each of 75 women� 'who move South Africa'.

Tuesday, June 20

Back at the Book Fair for another launch - Art South Africa's editor Sean O'Toole's book of short stories, The Marquis of Mooikloof. There's a very Johannesburg photo on the cover - by Jo Ractliffe - sun shining on a tin roof, a stormy sky behind. �

Wednesday, June 21

Lunch with Gavin Jantjes, director of Trans Cape.� As with all such events, glitches are causing problems. The Castle is no longer available as� an exhibition space as it will be being used for World Cup Homeless Soccer events. New venues are being investigated.

Gavin refuses to be drawn on the names of which artists will participate in Trans Cape, although I had understood the list would be released on June 15th.� Only two and a half months to go to opening day on September 23, as we go online.

Saturday, June 24

An all-singing all-reading all-poetry reciting opening at the SANG today - curated by Virginia MacKenny and Gabi Ngcobo, 'Second to None' spreads across most of the National Gallery and focuses on the creative power of women. Two personal favourites are the wall of small scale Shame paintings by Penny Siopis, and Lolo Veleko's quirky fashion photographs. �

In one gallery, large blowups of some of the photos from Karina Turok's book make a display of excellence.

Monday, June 26

Fly up to Johannesburg with Emma Bedford. She has a business meeting, I want to do some video interviews, and we both want to see William Kentridge's 'Black Box' before it comes down at the JAG.

At the Standard Bank Galleries, a difficult space at the best of times, Wim Botha's Young Artist work looks quite different to the way it did at the SANG. Work has a hard time standing up against the dominant architecture in this gallery, and its difficult to get a proper look at the show as a whole.

Downstairs, Bronwyn Findlay, a painter's painter, with a most excellent sense of how to make colours really sing has a small but very rich show entitled 'All About Everything'. Findlay has provided a key to her themes by presenting domestic objects like chinaware in a vitrine next to the front of the space. Try and see the show before it comes down in the middle of the month.

Tuesday, June 27

So here we are, on chairs in front of the small scaled down theatre in which William Kentridge's 'Black Box' plays itself out. What a piece of work this is. The breath is caught in the back of my throat as the sad drama of the decimation of the Hereroes in German South West Africa is suggested by the projected images incorporating found footage, films of Kentridge's drawings and the powerful music of Philip Miller. Simply made automated figures appear from the wings and in their very simplicity are all the more poignant, bending forwards as if weighed down by the burden of history.�

So glad I made the trip.