Late this month, the SA art community was greeted with the bad news that
the Spier Contemporary's Durban leg has been cancelled. In its official
statement, the Africa Centre cited a drastic reduction in public sector
sponsorship for the event, despite the full amount of this sponsorship
having been initially secured.
It would be easy for most of the SA
scene, i.e. Cape Town and Gauteng, to be glib and unengaged in this
cancellation, because the Spier's appearance in these provinces happened;
indeed, I have no doubt that most on the scene will be deathly quiet about
this, simply because it doesn't directly affect them. Nonetheless,
ArtThrob believes the significance of the Durban cancellation stretches
wider than just the KZN. If public sector sponsors continue to wreak this
kind of havoc in the arts, how can blithe government statements about
support for culture be believed?
Despite the Spier's mammoth success in
its own right (see NEWS for full details), it appears the culture sector
remains all-too often at the mercy of murky local politics and government
incompetence. More than that, against a backdrop of huge groundswells of
private interest in art (Spier, Joburg Art Fair), it seems that certain
sections of government are blind to the massive socially and economically
transformative potential of visual art in SA.
NEXT UPDATE: September 7.
At the beginning of September Berni Searle will be showing new videos at
Michael Stevenson, but other than this, August looks to be the month of
the curated show. There's 'Monomania' at Goodman, 'Print 08' at
Bell-Roberts and a most exciting offering from manje-manje projects headed
by Gabi Ngcobo and Mwenya Kabwe at AVA entitled 'Scratching the Surface
Standard Bank Gallery hosts a Cecil Skotnes show which affords a private
view of this South African great, including drawings and letters dating
back to the 50s, while the Absa l'Atelier award exhibition shows us one
view of the contemporary. 'Come again' presents Michaelis Master's
students' work at the Wits Substation. Art Extra presents Athi-Patra
Ruga's quirkily titled '... of bugchasers and watussi faghags', his first
solo show in Johannesburg.
Pioneered some years ago in Cape Town, the 'Moveable Art Feast' is a first
for Durban. An 'art bus' will take people around the various galleries in
the city as part of the annual 'Celebrate Durban' event. Eight major
galleries work together to provide events for itinerant patrons on eight
Saturdays during August and September. 'Production Marks: Geometry,
Psychology and the Electronic Age', curated by Brenton Maart and featuring
work by Marco Cianfanelli, Retha Erasmus, Doung Anwar Jahangeer and
others, comes to the KZNSA from the National Arts Festival. Kizo Gallery
hosts 'In Honour of The Artists of Rorke's Drift 1960's to 1970's'.
Two shows featuring South African artists open in South Korea, an overview
of William Kentridge prints opens in New York, while David Goldblatt
presents 'Intersections Intersected' in Portugal and Nicholas Hlobo has
his first solo show in the US at the Boston ICA.
Cara Snyman interviews Liza Essers, who recently purchased the Goodman
Gallery, asking her about the process of the acquisition and her plans for
the future. Down in the Western Cape, Tavish McIntosh spoke to Marilyn
Martin on the eve of her departure from the helm of the South African
National Gallery. The interview covers highlights from Martin's 18 years,
the institution's relationship with government structures and possible
directions forward for the Gallery. Cara Snyman interviews MTN New Contemporaries Award curator Melissa Mboweni and winner Dineo Bopape about the award and about making art as a young black woman at this point in the country's history.
Tavish McIntosh is impressed with the way Goodman Gallery Cape is insinuating
itself into its neighbourhood, just east of the city centre. 'Power Play',
a group show featuring work by Anthea Moys and Moshekwa Langa amongst
others, brings together 'a group of promising young artists, all intent on
engaging the contemporary dynamics of power and privilege'.
Corrupted power and the role of commerce therein, is the central theme in 'When enough people start saying the same thing', states Cara Snyman of Michael MacGarry's show at Art Extra. It is, she contends, an 'exceptional exhibition'.
Although Peter Machen found moments and instances of brilliance in
'Dis-ease', he more broadly laments the fact that artists don't seem to be
as excited by the medium as, for example, early film-makers were with
theirs. The works' presentation at Bank Gallery was an object lesson in
presenting the medium, he adds. 'Dis-ease' was a selection of work from
the Rijksakademie's collection curated by Durban-based Greg Streak.
Clare Butcher reviews the Okwui Enwezor-curated 'Snap Judgments: New
Positions in Contemporary African Photography', which ends its world tour
at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. While acknowledging that any
undertaking this size is bound to be problematic, she still feels that 'by
attempting to convey 35 "new positions" the exhibition in turn represents
none faithfully, leaving international gazers dazed and jumping to old
Capetonian James Webb wins the 2008 Absa l'Atelier award, and Carol Brown
interviews Durban-based CAPE Young Curator Bongani Mkhonza.
Avant Car Guard continues its assault on the ArtThrob diary this month, in
its own inimitable style. Who says diaries have to be legible?
This month's ARTBIO features Cape Town-based painter Peter Eastman.
Chad Rossouw trawls through www.artvault.co.za, subtitled 'The complete
guide to South African Art'.
Chad Rossouw surveys 'Emergence', a New York-based project with a very
active blogspot and contributions by several South African artists.
Michaelis hosts a photography workshop with Stephen Shore, the Spier
Performing Arts Festival calls for candidates and Thupelo Cape Town
presents a Found Object Workshop. In Johannesburg the Market Photo
Workshop invites applications for an Advanced Course in Photography.
It's oh so quiet in ArtThrob's FEEDBACK box, despite our substantial
footprint. Could it be a collective mid-year hibernation?
Send us your feedback.
Next print up will be from Lisa Brice. Watch this space for her stunning new print, made especially for ArtThrob.
Browse through past editions of ArtThrob.
Who's who and how we started. New email addresses for ArtThrob staffers make it easy to contact the right person.
Submit a message to the editor online - to contact a specific sub-editor,
which we'd prefer you do, please find their email address in the ABOUT
Subscribe to our monthly email update.