Minnette Vári
Video still from Alien


Vita nominees named

The nominees for the 1999 Vita Art Prize have been announced, and the line-up is: Zwelethu Mthethwa, Jo Ractliffe, Isaac Khanyile, Robert Hodgins, Kendell Geers and Minnette Vári. The nominations are awarded for the best work exhibited in 1998. Each of the artists named will make new work for the awards exhibition, to be held at the Sandton Civic Gallery later this year, on the basis of which a final winner will be selected. After some grumbling by critics last year about a judging panel which seemed too entrenched, there are some new faces for 1999. This year's committee is Brenda Atkinson, Anthea Bristowe, Bongi Dhlomo-Mautloa, Frank Ledimo and Clive Kellner.



Launch of co.@rtnews

ArtThrob hails the February 28 launch of a new quarterly magazine on arts and culture in South Africa, on an initiative by Angolan artist Fernando Alvim and Johannesburg curator Clive Kellner. The magazine aims, says the press release, "to develop critical writing for the arts, combining established writers and critics, whilst encouraging unknown writers".

co.@rtnews, it is hoped, will prove an essential resource for artists, educators, students and professionals, and will facilitate a network of exchange between entities on the African continent and the rest of the international art world. Cultural activities and political initiatives that support arts and culture will be documented.

"While our epoch is marred by political conflicts, we endorse Thabo Mbeki's call for an African Renaissance vision. We believe in the artists, film makers, writers, intellectuals, dancers, musicians, and performers of our generation, our history and location. We would like to contribute…"

It is indeed exciting to see a magazine attempting to fill the void of informed discourse around art and culture, so sorely needed in this country. One small worry: we hope the fledgling magazine has its advertising, marketing and distribution plan as firmly in mind as its ideals, and that it does not prove to be a one-issue wonder like the late great Ventilator.

As soon as a copy arrives in this office, it will be reviewed for ArtThrob. The magazine can also be viewed on the web - at www.coartnews.co.za.


Kevin Brand plans a
new "pixel" piece for
the Van Reekum show.
The one here was on the
Dakar Biennale in 1998

Plans for show at Van Reekum Museum, Appeldoorn

'[Rewind] Fast Forward.ZA', curated by ex-South African, Dutch-based Bozzie Rabie, will open at the Van Reekum Museum for Modern and Contemporary Art in Apeldoorn in the first week of June. It will be the first large-scale exhibition of contemporary South African art in Holland since 'Zuiderkruis', the Venice Biennale selections, was presented at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 1993.

The Van Reekum Museum, about 40 minutes drive from Amsterdam, "looks for a confrontation and discussion between artistic and cultural views on western and non-western artists", and has shown such artists in the past as Marcos Lora Read and Romuald Hazoume.

The artists on '[Rewind]' are Willie Bester, Kevin Brand, Bongi Dhlomo-Mautloa, Robert Hodgins, William Kentridge, Sam Nhlengethwa, Noria Mabasa, Zwelethu Mthethwa, Esther Mahlangu, Nkosana Dominic Tshabangu and Sue Williamson.

Okwui Enwezor, next director of 'Documenta', will contribute an essay to the catalogue. The show will be opened by Carl Niehaus, the South African ambassador to Holland.


R20-million spent by National Arts Council

Although in the past year the National Arts Council (NAC) has seemed to be mainly concerned with setting up and streamlining procedures for the processing of grants, a total of 421 projects and 207 bursaries amounting to more that R20-million were funded by the Council between November 1997 and November 1998. This is according to a recent press release.

Two of the projects that are currently being supported by the NAC or have been initiated by the NAC are the Gerald Sekoto Day for Children, which is a visual arts project, and the NAC Writers-in-Residence project piloted in four universities. Both are running smoothly and successfully.

Currently, the NAC is looking for projects to support that will have a national impact and have the capacity to involve both small and large communities in urban and rural areas. The council says it is waiting for projects that will "blow your mind away - imaginative, creative and excellent in artistic merit."

For more information on the NAC please contact the Arts Council Office in Johannesburg. Phone (011) 838-1383; fax 838-6363; e-mail info@nac.org.za.


Campaign for lottery to fund arts

In a second story involving arts and money, South Africa's three national arts and culture funding agencies announced last week that they will campaign for an equitable slice of funds from the proposed national lottery to be allocated to the arts and culture sector.

The three agencies - the Arts and Culture Trust of the President (ACT), Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) and the National Arts Council (NAC) - agreed at a meeting in Johannesburg to form a joint initiative to ensure that arts and culture is allocated an amount from the lottery at least equal to that of the welfare and sport sectors. The initiative is to be known as National Arts and Culture Lottery Initiative (NACLI).

John Kani, chairperson of the National Arts Council, and Andries Oliphant, chairperson of the Arts and Culture Trust of the President, have been appointed as joint chair and spokespersons of NACLI.

Speaking after a meeting in Johannesburg, Kani said that overall funding for the arts and culture sector in South Africa had reached "desperate proportions". "Since the election of a democratic government, the arts have seen significant changes in the institutional framework governing this sector, and in the manner in which resources have been allocated.

"Three national arts and culture funding agencies have come into existence since 1994: the Arts and Culture Trust of the President (ACT), Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), and the National Arts Council (NAC). However, there has not been a major increase in the amount of funding available for arts and culture and, given the legacies of the past, it is unlikely to receive increases in public or private sector resources in the foreseeable future. If anything, there is likely to be a decrease in real terms in such funding.

"Against this background, the proposed national lottery will probably be the single most important source of new and large funding for the arts in the next 10 years. However, the lottery process has advanced significantly with limited input from the arts and culture sector, so this sector could receive the 'Cinderella' portion of lottery funds, unless it intervenes urgently and forcefully in what remains of the process.

"It is for this reason that the three existing national arts and culture funding bodies have taken the initiative to participate as strongly as possible within this process to secure the best possible financial deal for the sector," Kani said.

Kani pointed out that national lotteries in other countries contributed significantly to arts and culture. In many cases, the funding from the lotteries stimulated industry.

"For example, in Britain, the lottery has had a direct spin-off in increased activity and better quality in the film industry, which is becoming highly regarded around the world. This has made it possible for artists to work with dignity," he said.

He added that the sector understood the need for government to address serious social issues such as housing and education. However, the lottery provided the opportunity to assist the government to fund arts and cultural development in South Africa, which was crucial to the empowering of its people.

Kani noted that artists had assisted in communicating voter education, the Aids campaign, and labour legislation, so there could be no doubt that they had participated in building up the country.



Leonardo da Vinci
Self Portrait

Leonardo da Vinci exhibit to visit South Africa

The Pretoria Art Museum will be the only venue in Africa to host an international exhibition on the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci, the brilliant Renaissance artist, scientist and inventor. Painter of the world's most famous painting, Mona Lisa, Da Vinci also designed the first machine gun, parachute, military tank, automobile and wrist watch - all some 500 years ago.

Entitled 'Leonardo da Vinci: Scientist Inventor Artist', the exhibition will open on 15 April this year and run until August 1. The exhibition will take over the whole of the Pretoria Art Museum and accommodate about 250 exhibits of paintings, sculptures, models, rare books, maps and facsimiles of work, including work by his students and followers. There will also be works by other Renaissance artists, including Raphael.

Some 2-million people worldwide have seen the exhibition, which will also feature interactive touch-screen computers, guided tours, lectures, workshops and slide shows. The public will be able to touch and move large-scale models created from Da Vinci's original plans.

Unfortunately the Mona Lisa is too fragile to travel, but a copy made when the original was stolen in 1922 will be on view.

Daimler Chrysler and the International Watch Company are the overseas sponsors responsible for bringing the exhibition to this country.

For more info, call the museum at (012) 344-1807/8; fax 344-1809; e-mail pam@ccp.co.za. Website: www.pretoria.co.za/pam or www.ccp.co.za.

The Pretoria Art Museum is located at the corner of Schoeman and Wessels streets, Arcadia, Pretoria.



Writers/artists project for Oudtshoorn

'Bloedlyn', a collaborative exhibition by writers and artists, is being planned for the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival to take place in Oudtshoorn from March 25 to 31.

Choosing the Afrikaans word "Bloedlyn" - "Blood Line" - as a theme and title for her show, curator Lien Botha has invited 10 visual artists and 10 writers to work in pairs to prepare particular artworks for the exhibition, which will be held in the Principia College.

"The two components, 'blood' and 'line', could be employed by participants in any combination, literally or figuratively." The partnerships are Bongi Bengu/Vincent Oliphant, Mark Coetzee/Karin Cronje, Thembinkosi Goniwe/Verni Plaatjies, Dorothee Kreutzfeldt/Herman Lategan, Fritha Langerman/Lettie Viljoen, Veronique Malherbe/Charles J Fourie, Selwin Pekeur/Elias P Nel, Lucy Pooler/Ashraf Jamal, and Berni Searle/Anoeschka von Meck.

The artwork of author Lettie Viljoen and Fritha Langerman involves a series of mixed-media boxes of prints developed by the artist from a text which explores the theme of a woman as mother, daughter, lover, queen, magician, virgin and whore. Writer Welma Odendaal's story Connie Vermoed Verraad inspired Selwin Pekeur to make one large, illustrative painting.

Elias P Nel and the artist Andrew Porter's installation is an exploration of Nel's writing under the title Voetskryf, literally and figuratively the text of the nomad. Veronique Malherbe and Charles J Fourie have made an installation using various objects, including a fridge. It is titled All this useless beauty ... Fourie describes the piece as an exploration of two individuals' "love, life and blood lines".

Painter Bongi Bengu and poet Vincent Oliphant's work is a frieze of polystyrene with multi-coloured paper on which a series of sketches is interspersed with the Afrikaans and Zulu versions of the poem 27 April 1994 composed by Oliphant.



Veronique Malherbe
A photograph for her project,
All This Useless Beauty

Art Night a hit

By all accounts, March 12, Art Night in Cape Town, was a huge success. The bus which carried gallery-goers from venue to venue on a 16-stop circular route was often more than half full of cheerful art viewers, and those too impatient to wait for the next passing walked. At times, Long and Loop streets seemed full of such strollers. "Hundreds came," said Estelle Jacobs of the AVA, "and what I noticed was, there were so many people who'd never been in the gallery before - new faces, and very enthusiastic. And to me that's what Art Night was about."

There was a fire performance on the empty lot opposite the Framing Factory, there were bands at a number of galleries, and at João Ferreira the group Ram did a sound installation of music and random sounds which filled the space pefectly. Here, too, Veronique Malherbe, dressed in a white coat with "FORGIVE ME FOR BEING POWERFUL" in capital letters on her back ordered young men to pose the way she wanted them for photographs for her project All This Useless Beauty, which will be part of the 'Bloodlines' show at Oudsthoorn next week. Malherbe needed "one hundred pretty boys", and there was no shortage of volunteers.

Elsewhere in the city, her 'Bloodlines' collaborator, writer Charles Fourie, was photographing the same number of girls for his part in the project. The atmosphere everywhere was like one big party, and there will definitely be more Art Nights in the future.



The poster for the show

Homing in on Oudsthoorn

'Oos Wes Tuis Bes' ('East West Home's Best') is the title of a show which takes art right out of the gallery and into the middle of the street. Planned for the Klein Karoo National Art Festival to take place in Oudtshoorn between March 25 and 31, curators Lize Hugo and Mark Coetzee have received permission to close one road in the middle of town, and set a series of small wooden houses down the centre. Each artist gets one house for his/her installation which will consider issues of "nationalism, citizenship, ownership, migration, lifestyle, removals and other themes related to the house".

Exhibiting artists are Bridget Baker, Andries Botha, Lien Botha, Masha du Toit, Liza Grobler, Matthew Haresnape, Randolph Hartzenberg, Isolde Krams, Aliza Levi, Mustafa Maluka, Pat Mautloa, Luan Nel, Andrew Putter and Sue Williamson. Sponsors include De Kat, BASA, and the National Arts Council.

See Listings for artists' projects and pix.



Minnette Vári
Self Portrait 2 1995
Photographic print
75 x 102cm

This piece by white artist
Minnette Vári was one of the
works which fuelled the
original debate

Long-awaited book on SA art to be launched

The launch of Grey Areas, Representation, Identity and Politics in Contemporary South African Art (Chalkham Hill Press), the long-awaited collection of essays edited by Brenda Atkinson and Candice Breitz, takes place on Sunday March 28 at noon in the Rembrandt van Rijn Gallery at the Market Theatre.

Originally planned for publication to coincide with the 2nd Johannesburg Biennale in 1997, Grey Areas engages a debate which has surfaced repeatedly in local and international artworld discourse, and which has become increasingly vocal in recent years. This debate concerns issues of cultural ownership and representation in South African artistic production: who has the right to represent whom? Should artists be allowed freely to image cultural/racial/gendered others in their work, or should there be certain restrictions as to what kinds of imaging can take place? Is there a difference between "representation of" and "speaking for" the Other?

More than 35 artists, critics, arts administrators, writers and cultural activists based both in this country and abroad give their views.

Grey Areas has been published in a limited first edition of 800. Copies of the book will be available for sale at the launch (price: R130), and will be available at the gallery thereafter. For more information: phone Stephen Hobbs or Storm van Rensburg at (011) 832-1641; e-mail gallery@market.theatre.co.za.



A page of slides in
the "Duplicates" file
waiting to be labelled

A correctly labelled

Series: The Professional Artist II: Archiving your slides the New York way

Ever given your best 35mm slide of a piece to a journalist and never seen it again? Read on. Now that you have all those good slides of your work (See The Professional Artist I), you need a system to make sure that your top slides stay in your possession for ever, but when you need a copy to give to someone, you have it instantly on hand. Nearly all the New York galleries use the same archiving system. Here it is.

Materials needed

Two (or four, or six, depending on how many slides you have) strong Lever Arch files.

See-through slide sheets. The best kind are the Print File Archive series, which can be obtained in various sizes to suit the size of your images. They are made of completely clear material. You will have to repunch them to fit the lever arch files. Beware of the slide sheets with a textured surface, which make your slides difficult to look at properly when held up to the light. Print File sheets are not easy to track down, but one supplier is Tothills Photo Discounters, 18 Lower Burg Street, Cape Town. Phone (021) 421 2421 and ask for Peter van Laeren.

A4 sheets paper.

Plastic sleeves to hold A4 sheets paper.

The smallest size red adhesive paper dots.

Avery 35mm slide labels (get them from computer supply stores).


1. Label File No 1: Archive, and no 2: Duplicates.

2. Sort your slides into projects, or series.

3. Working chronologically - your most recent work will be in the front of your files - go through every single slide in each series. The best slides of each series go into your Archive File. Mark these with a red stick-on dot at lower right when the image is facing you correctly. Put them into a sleeve this way. The red dots are only for your master slides. If you have more than one of each image, the others go into your Duplicates File. Any slide that is not top quality, throw away now.

4. Each series or project must start on a new sheet, even if it is only one or two slides.

5. On the sheets of paper, set out each project like this:
(Title) Hit Squad (Year) 1997
(Size) 100cm x 200cm (Always put height first, width second)
(Medium) Glass, bullets, paint on canvas
(Other info) A series of 10 collage works on the theme of the death and misplaced identity. First shown on 2nd Johannesburg Biennale, 1997. Hit Squad I and II in the MTN Collection.

Make several photocopies of this sheet, and put one in the plastic sleeve in the file in front of the slides in the Archive File, and the others in the sleeve in front of the extras in the Duplicate File. When you give slides to a curator, also give them one of these sheets.

6. Label all your slides. Probably you'll need two labels on each slide - one above and one below the image to contain all the information. The info goes in this order:
Name of artist
Title of piece, and year made
(Courtesy of gallery, or address)

The unbreakable rule is that the only place the master trannies in the Archive File ever go is to the Lab for duplication, after which they are immediately put back. Do not use them for slide shows. Do not give them out. It's a lifetime system.

... MWeb

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