Is there anything an artist hates more than having to bring a cv up to date ? Or a bibliography? Especially when that artist has worked as long as I have and there is so much detailed, almost forgotten information to track down. But SKIRA, the Italian art publishers, are producing a monograph of my work later this year, and I have been a slave to my laptop for months.
Which I hope explains why this blog is so horribly late.
So it was some time ago … in fact, the end of July … when I headed over to the Stevenson for a performance by Buhlebezwe Siwani entitled Zem’inkomo Nongqawuse. Some years ago, Siwani received the calling to become a sangoma, underwent the training, and is now also pursuing her masters degree at Michaelis. Nongqawuse was the Xhosa prophetess whose prophecies led the Xhosa people to kill their cattle in 1856-57. Buhle’s performance on the ramp of the Stevenson interpreting that history combines these very different strands of her life.
The other artists on the show with Buhle were Penny Siopis and the vigorous Zimbabwean painter, Portia Zvavahera, with a series entitled I Can Feel it in my Eyes. Siopis was showing extraordinarlly moving small paintings reflecting grief, and a new video, Lay Bare Beside which wrestles with the problem of how to treat with respect the history of two skulls once used for medical illustration.
The Stevenson show opened on the same night as a project at blank projects … Christian Nerf and Josh Ginsberg had been collaborating on documenting ideas, systems, suggestions, passing notebook ideas and sketches back and forth … the emblematic and intriguing results were pinned up on the walls of blank, lit by projections.
Three weeks later at the Goodman, I meet Nigerian artist Adejoke Tugbiyele at her exhibition ‘Testimony’. Her constructions, performative videos and accomplished mixed media drawings on vellum reflect aspects of daily life for Nigerians, a life which is often made bearable only by the thought that there is a better place to live, somewhere else. The ‘somewhere elses’ appear as sketches and notes on the vellum, recording the artist’s life away from Lagos, imaging both the new city and fragments of the news from home.
Nandipha Mntambo is showing at the Stevenson on a new solo show entitled ‘Metamorphoses’.
In the front room, in a new video entitled The Island, the artist appears as a figure tracking a small herd of bison through a snowy landscape … one living creature in the presence of others … the curve of the backs of the bison is reflected in the hunched posture of the artist, and even in the form of The Solace, one of Mntambo’s skin pieces in the next gallery.