Archive: Issue No. 31, March 2000

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 Lene Tempelhoff

Lene Tempelhoff
Flights of Consciousness series
Steel, clay, bronze, plastic

Howard Podeswa

Howard Podeswa
'I KNOW what you're UP to' 1999
Oil on canvas
182 x 167 cm

Timothy Zantsi

Timothy Zantsi
Oil on canvas
70 X 60cm


Tempelhoff, Podeswa and Zantsi at the AVA
by Sue Williamson

Elegant indeed are the small wall pieces by Lene Tempelhoff, up now at the AVA, immaculately fabricated from steel, red clay, bronze. and plastic. In matt, earthlike finishes of a rich brown, each seems to present the handsome fa�ade of sparsely decorated buildings of North African influence, with little possibility of ground level entry - though high windows and upper balconies provide lookout points, and small planes seem to have landed on many. 'Excursions and choicelessness' is the title of the exhibition. 'Excursions' seems clear enough - these are small journeys into the poetic. Choicelessness? Tempelhoff cites her influences as 'yoga, Eastern philosolphies, dancers, aeroplanes, stage sets, jetties', and also fires and palm trees, a fine range of choices. Some of the pieces have engraved script, and those pieces seem limited by the incised words. There are also a series of small table-top tableaux in painted jelutong, which, while attractive, do not engage the attention as the intriguing Flights of Consciousness series on the wall.

In the Main Gallery, Canadian Howard Podeswa shows work with a refreshing lightness of touch. Podeswa paid two visits to South Africa, in 1998 and 1999, spending time out at Zweletemba township near Paarl, hanging out, becoming part of a Community Peace programme, listening to the things people say and noting their responses with his eyes. One gets the impression Podeswa fitted in rather easily. The work on show is entitled 'Spit of Love', and includes paintings and sketches, some pinned simply to the wall which are amalgams of his experiences here and of working in community projects in his hometown of Toronto. "I KNOW what you're UP to - I can see it in your eyes" is the record of a brief encounter with the trickster Timbele, clad in a green pointed hat. Behind this work, a sound installation by Jeremy de Tolly brings something of the street into the gallery. Other work by Podeswa, sometimes in comic strip format, presents moments of debate in community argument. With his fresh, brushy style, Podeswa gives a bright and quirky view of the townships as seen by an uitlander.

Upstairs, on the ArtStrip, Timothy Zantsi presents his insider's view of township life, working in paint and pastel to present a series of moments from daily life. This is Zantsi's first solo exhibition, sponsored by the Outreach programme of the AVA. The work gives off a high degree of energy, but the paint surfaces of ten seem somewhat overworked, and Zantsi will have to watch that his work does not descend to the level of caricature. My own favourite was a piece which seem to have been added as an afterthought, pinned up just outside the entrance. Entitled 'Women Refugees', three women seated on a bench are described with free flowing brush strokes which almost suggest leaves blowing in the wind - an appropriate style for the subject.

All shows close on March 25.

AVA, 35 Church Street
Tel: (021) 424-7436
Fax: (021) 423-2637
Gallery hours: Mon - Fri, 10am - 5pm, Sat 10am - 12pm

 Justin Anschutz

Justin Anschutz
Installation view showing details of 'Fishtrap' 1999
Wood, cloth
260 x 500 x 580 cm
Photo: Megan Tsjasink

 Justin Anschutz

Justin Anschutz
Sway 1999 - 2000
Pigmented wood
160 x 150 x 60 cm
Photo: Dave Southwood

Justin Anschutz at João Ferreira
by Sue Williamson

Entitled 'A Natural Language', the current show at João Ferreira Fine Art marks the first showing in Cape Town of the young artist Justin Anschutz, following two shows in earlier years in Johannesburg at the Karen McKerron Gallery.

Anschutz uses organic materials, wood, cloth, sand, and through a process of intense labour, transforms these into art pieces which have a strong link not only to forms found in the natural world but to archetypical images buried in the subconscious. Cutting wood in the forest, stripping it, whittling each piece and connecting it to hundreds of other pieces, Anschutz comes up with the visually satisfying Sway, a wild but ordered tangle of twisting tubular forms which seems to speak both of the body and of mass of writhing roots, or even, perhaps, of a concrete expression of the invisible connections and conjunctions that link man inexorably to nature . Viewers can be seen carefully examining the tangle to see if there is a point where the piece begins or ends.

And then there is the moving and dreamlike Flash Fin, a coffin shaped, boat-like shallow basket, filled with a cargo of tightly packed oval forms. Stained with subtle pigments and fabricated from laminated corrugated cardboard, these have the appearance of river-smoothed stones, but suggest, perhaps, the loads and burdens we must carry through life. Formally powerful, the piece evokes all manner of associations. Fish Trap, unexpectedly jutting out of the wall above the heads of viewers, is Anschutz's version of the time-old device used by riverside dwellers to catch their daily food.

A series of nine panels of old wooden floor blocks, laminated, freely carved into, and stained allows a variety of permutations of arrangement, according to the space available - a rare freedom in the art world.

Perhaps the least successful of the works is one of the large rectangular panels, overlaid with a tracery of thin clothbound branches, in which the underlying marks and carvings seem somewhat arbitrary and forced. But overall, the deep feeling that Anschutz has for the natural world clearly and surely dictates his hand and his eye. The artist has a remarkable ability for making his pieces look as if, for all their pleasing roughness, they have to be that way and no other - the distinguishing characteristic of good art.

Until March 25

João Ferreira Fine Art. 80 Hout Street
Tel: (021) 423-5403
Fax: (021) 423-2136

 Egon Tania

Egon Tania

Egon Tania
by Sue Williamson

When does technical facility and fine understanding of form interfere with the strength of a sculpture? Paradoxically, would the artist make more interesting work if he were not so skilled? These are questions which come to mind when regarding the undeniably accomplished sculptures in jacaranda wood and red ivory by Dutch-born Pretoria based artist Egon Tania, now showing at Harris Fine Art in Wynberg. In an artist's statement, Tania refers to drawing on a European tradition of figurative sculpture while using African sculpting techniques. By 'African techniques' one assumes the sculptor means the broad marks of the chisel left on the surface, bolting together wood where necessary, rather than attempting to conceal joins, using found bits of wood to serve as hair or as a kind of fabric drape. Of course, there are many forms of African wooden sculpture from traditional ceremonial pieces to the formulaic Colon figures of West Africa referred to by Claudette Schreuders as an influence, to the expressionistic figurative pieces by such artists as Nelson Makhuba. In this last category, artists such as Makhuba looked at the piece of raw wood, and considering the natural form of the material more important than human dimensions, allowed it to have some part in the final form of the piece. And perhaps this is the problem here. In maintaining too tight a control over his medium, Tania has attempted to impose perfection, and the result is work which seems too considered, too pretty, too safe.

Until March 18

Harris Fine Art, 4 Riebeeck Street, Wynberg/ Chelsea, Cape Town, 7800
Tel/fax: 762-4076
Cell: 082 570-7469

 Andrew Putter and Anet van de Elzen

Anet van de Elzen

View the QuickTime movie from the event (1.4MB)

'Life is Precious' - a street performance
by Sue Williamson

'Life is Precious' arose out of a Cape Town experience of visiting Dutch artist Anet van de Elzen. Attempting to give three street children a little money each, she was shocked to be virtually knocked over by a mob of twice as many more, who seemed to appear from nowhere. A consideration of this event and the experience of coming from a first world to a third world country, grew into a performance piece with local artist Andrew Putter, which took place in St George's Mall in central Cape Town on Saturday morning. The two drew a chalk circle as a stage, and seated in the middle, Van de Elzen blindfolded herself in black, as Putter walked round the circle singing in a low voice and flinging coins onto the ground. Van de Elzen then uncovered her face, and in a powerful and lyrical voice addressed the gathered audience to sing a Bach composition which translates loosely as Are You By My Side? As with many performances, exact interpretations are elusive. The strength of the piece arose from the associations created by the actions of the performers, and the effect of Van de Elzens transformation from a partially bound and silenced figure to one reaching out to an audience through song.

Brad Hammond

Brad Hammond
de-tuned channel # 41 (detail) 2000
wax etching
110 x 130 cm

Brad Hammond

Brad Hammond de-tuned channel # 9 2000
wax etching
120 x 180 cm


Brad Hammond's 'De-Tuned Channels' at the Johannesburg Civic
by Kathryn Smith

In his opening address, Karel Nel described Brad Hammond as a "cartographer of a non-informational world." In trying to articulate the responses Hammond's exquisitely executed work evoke both mentally and emotionally, one finds oneself slipping into a rhetoric that borders on the metaphysical.

Nel went on to speak about the "mesmerising power" of the informational revolution. But Hammond is no flaky cyber-freak. The artist produces works that are essentially about making sense out of the 'ether', harnessing the codes that allow one access to the matrix underlying the apparent non-sense of de-tuned television channels.

After covering a board in several layers of wax, Hammond painstakingly etches into the wax to varying depths, using a steel rule and a screwdriver. While his large-format wax etchings are very clearly the 'work of one's hands' in a traditional sense, their theme is the effect of the culture of mass media. The early morning hour of 3.12 a.m. is a physical and metaphorical time index that Hammond uses to connect his landscapes of non-information with a particular state of consciousness. At this time our bodies are at their lowest ebb. It is a time when most people die in their sleep take a last breath, and as such, could be figured as a somewhat 'otherwordly' realm. It is this state that Hammond tries to 'image' by using the complex visual syntax of television 'snow'. In making his marks by hand, the artist attempts to 'sensitise' the otherwise inhuman surfaces of television and computer monitors.

In a similar manner, Hammond's work in video inspires the same compulsion in the viewer to make visual sense of something quite abstract. Urban Mantra, a textual and visual study of the flashing Coke sign atop Ponte City, moves this notorious and violent landmark into the realm of the lyrical. And Still Life, with its singular bar heater slowly beginning to heat up, reach maximum light and heat, and begin to cool again to a soundtrack of ambient suburban noises, strikes a very poignant and intelligent note. It is as if this heater, with its cord escaping to a power source beyond the frame, is the visual equivalent of a life source common to all, invisible and abstract, yet accessible if we give it time.

As Nel was speaking, an anonymous voice boomed "Hello? Hello?" over the Civic Theatre's PA system. Amusing as it was, it seemed to have an eerie affinity with the evening's proceedings.

Ends April 5

Siobhan Margaret McCusker

Siobhan Margaret McCusker
Portion 215 (places and other things)
mixed media 14 x 65 x 10 cm

Ryan Arenson

Ryan Arenson
Safe Sex Forever1999-2000
enamel on canvas
40 x 50 cm

Johannesburg selections for the ABSA Atelier Award
by Kathryn Smith

White walls, wooden floors and aluminium ceilings make up the architectural components of the rather swanky space of the new ABSA gallery. In fact, the entire ABSA complex has the potential to seriously blow your mind. Following a precedent set locally by the Gencor building, it is complete with an impressive but still rather unimaginative contemporary art collection.

New space it may be, but it is a new space housed in the eye of a corporate banking storm. The gallery is approached across a voluminous, rather airport-like atrium that also houses the company's canteen. Manager of Arts and Functions, Cecile Loedolff, boasts of the potential to "open up" the gallery space onto the atrium, thereby allowing a "real interaction" between the architecture, ABSA employees and the art. I wanted to point out to her that even the utterly gobsmacking Walter Oltmann woven wire 'totem pole' that occupies the atrium looks like it has been shoved in a corner - no mean feat for something 11 meters in height. Labels indicating artists' names, titles of works and media are not yet in place. Visible across several glass-cladded stories of offices is the world's largest kinetic mobile, Susan Woolf's enormous kinetic interpretation of the city of Johannesburg's technophilic industry fantasies.

Getting back to the Atelier Award selections, the idea of hosting exhibitions of works submitted at each of the collection points around the country is a good one, as it facilitates a certain transparency and understanding of the judging process in terms of what gets the nod and what doesn't. All the works submitted are shown, and selected works are marked with a large cerise dot on the label. Out of a possible 120 works - the largest number ever submitted in Johannesburg, and at any of the collection points in the exhibition's history - 34 were selected. Out of those works selected, more than a few were multiple submissions by individual artists. Wits University's 'Wedge' (Fine Art Department) emerged as a serious institutional contender at this year's awards, with submissions by staff members and past students dominating the selected few.

My impression of last year's final Awards show was one of extreme mediocrity. Ryan Arenson's winning work couldn't have looked more misplaced. As part of the current display, Arenson's latest works are showcased on screens in the foyer prior to being taken to Paris by the artist for showing there during his stay at the Cité.

While the work selected in Johannesburg is not necessarily 'of a type', it has a collective identity of professionalism that distinguishes it from the other works on show. Video, photo-based and mixed media works come to the fore. Artists selected include Robin Rhode, Natasha Christopher, Brad Hammond, Merryn Singer, Kathryn Smith and Stephan Erasmus. If other provincial centres have been half as rigorous, it could make for an interesting final show.

This is the 15th year of the Atelier and it remains the wealthiest competition in the country. And if this doesn't impress you, the ABSA Towers and its resident artworks, recipient of a Golden Arrow Award for 'Best Building', are still worth a visit, especially Karel Nel's mega-installation in the foyer.

Ends March 29.

Entrance to the Gallery is free.

Hentie van der Merwe

Hentie van der Merwe Cape Town Rifles (Dukes)
Bandsman (1913 - 1928) 1999 - 2000
150 x 97cm

Lisa Brice

Lisa Brice
Exit Sign ( Soutpiel Series) 1999
Lightbox, Edition of 6
17 x 62cm

Lisa Brice

Lisa Brice
Score: Signals 1999
Mirrir, talc and window frost
Edition variable
Dimensions variable

Lisa Brice's 'Work in Transit' and Hentie van der Merwe's 'Trappings' at the Goodman
by Kathryn Smith

Often when shows are much-anticipated (as this one was for me), the reaction when eventually faced with the work is "Oh...umm...okay," simply because we've built up an image in our minds of what we would like to see. Not so with this show. While Brice's work seems deceptively simple, it is precisely this apparent ease of execution and simplicity of concept that keeps on recurring and unravelling to reveal deep complexities and a sharp and sardonic sense of humour. Although visually worlds apart, Van der Merwe's body of large photographs of military uniforms shot at the Museum of Military History, Johannesburg, are really quite close to Brice's work in their affect. He has managed, as only a skilled and mature thinker can, to marry form and content in a way that reduces complexities to their essences, and renders exquisite everything that is 'un-beautiful' and violent.

Van der Merwe's work is flanked by Brice's, and as such, one's experience of the exhibition is that of two distinct and separate shows. Only when you begin walking between the two, do you realise that what these two artists are dealing with is really quite similar in impetus. Violence, identity, geographies of experience and the trappings of culture and vice come under the spotlight here, and apparently rather serendipitously too. Neither artist had any real idea what the other was planning to show.

A sense of transient, fleeting experience emerges - something that is within your reach, but that you cannot grasp with any sense of surety or permanence. In Score: Signals and Score: Logo's, Brice gives us the icons and codes of a fickle and dangerous gangland subculture. While these imply the desperate affiliations of drug runners and gang underdogs trying to ascend the ranks in their fraught hierarchies, the opposite end of the scale is true too. The brand association brings to mind those who end up buying their product: high-end consumers with money to burn and where sportswear, while being an aspect of identity, is really just a choice about what to wear to the Health and Racquet Club.

It is usually these same people who are the subjects of her Exit Sign series, exceedingly clever reworkings of standardised codes understood on a global scale. They give visual representation to (often but not exclusively) white South African 'fright-fight-flight' anxieties. Photographic records of the signs in situ provoke a reassessing, or at least a consciousness, of what these signs can actually imply.

Brice' work is 'transient' in its implications and subject matter, augmented by the fact that her process was affected by a heavy travelling schedule. On the other hand, Van der Merwe gives us transient images of an experience that stays with you forever - that of war. And the images stay with you too, although - or perhaps because they are - impenetrable and out of focus.

It's hard to say anything about these images as whatever one says immediately becomes a contradiction. I think this is because they are truly experiential things. On an intellectual level, one can appreciate their eloquence in deconstructing the trappings of war. The death-machine that is war is 'window-dressed' to appear heroic and morally admirable. Van der Merwe tackles this male violence (both subtle and overt) head-on - decorations become blurry, nondescript shapes. Red velvet trimming morphs into open wounds. And they are printed up to a scale that makes these amorphous corpses of history genuinely spooky. At the same time however, they are glowing fields of intense, abstract colour, and incredibly powerful when presented together in a space.

Brice and Van der Merwe are undoubtedly important figures on the South African art scene. This show should solidify this fact for some, and seduce others into following their careers quite closely.

Ends March 25

Steven Cohen

Steven Cohen
Performance stills from Limping into the African Renaissance


Performance stills from The Goatfoot God - Pan: Part 2: Fetish Dance

Limping into the African Renaissance with Steven Cohen at the FNB Dance Umbrella Programme 3 (performance art), March 2, 2000, Wits Theatre
by Kathryn Smith

From a well-informed Wits Theatre mole, we discovered that audiences of this second showing of the performance art programme were mercifully spared the more 'substandard' entries. Whether or not this was due only to bad work, or complaints about a very protracted first showing (Tuesday's events went on for some four hours) is unclear. But those pieces that made it into 'round two' as it were, were interesting and entertaining, if nothing else.

Comprising mainly performance art, more traditional dance did manage to squeeze a satin-clad foot in the door, but only just. And how strange it looked, wedged between Elu's gracelessly elegant The Goatfoot God - Pan: Part 1: Beaten Stag and The Goatfoot God - Pan: Part 2: Fetish Dance (performed to Panpipes of the Andes and Marilyn Manson's Eurythmics cover Sweet Dreams respectively); and Steven Cohen's Limping into the African Renaissance, a complex piece combining his Taste work with prosthetic leg-acrobatics.

Craig Morris' study of nervous, almost autistic communication between two people in Haven't We Met?, and Pinto Ferreira's deserve a mention, as does Athena Mazarakis's outstanding dance/vocal performance in her own My Back to the Bells. But it was Bevan Cullinan's punctuation of the stage changeovers (culminating in his powerful and tragic Love, Marriage and the Moon) that provided excellent comic relief to the evening's rather angstvol proceedings.

Broom in hand, he frenetically swept and loped across the stage, until he spotted a hapless audience member. Throughout the three short prologues to the main piece, he presented her with all manner of floral offerings while grotesquely mouthing 'I Love You' at the appropriate moments in the saccharine Francoise Hardy track, "Find Me a Boy".

Broadly speaking, technophobia, misguided technophilia, and dysfunctional bodies and relationships emerged as thematic constants. Boundaries between performance, cinematics and video, and the visual arts are ever-receding as choreographers used video and slide projection quite effectively. And not surprisingly, it was Cohen and Elu who emerged as the most successful in this regard, in that the accompanying video referred out to a 'lived' context beyond the confines of the constructed stage. Elu is depicted horned and naked in a field of cows, being herded off with the pack, and making his way down a busy urban street in fetish pointe shoes, shirt, tie and briefcase. Cohen struggles along a rural dirt road in prosthetic leg and virginal white froth, accompanied by a female traditional healer. Dragging the extra appendage gets the better of him and he eventually succumbs to the ground. His soundtrack included excerpts from radio interviews and messages recorded onto his answering machine, and Cohen himself answering the question, "What is performance art?" This ran the risk of being didactic, but in the context of his fraught relationship with the sponsors and resistant public, it did more to set the record straight and provide a point of access, than damage his artistic integrity.

Elu and Cohen have forged themselves into a creative force to be reckoned with, and despite their prolific nature, have managed to remain endlessly inventive. And while they feed off each other's energy, their work retains their respective individuality.

Berni Searle

Berni Searle
From the "Colour Me" series, 1999
colour digital prints, spices
Artist's collection
dimensions variable (lifesize figures)


Aerial view of viewing booth featuring politically-themed work, including
Paul Stopforth's Biko I & II &
Sam Nhlengethwa's It Left Him Cold

'Emergence' comes of age at the Standard Bank Gallery:
Kathryn Smith interviews the curators

Blockbuster exhibition 'Emergence', celebrating 25 years of South African visual production, has been criticised for being too crowded in previous venues. Now installed in the ample spaces of Johannesburg's Standard Bank Gallery, its complexities and nuances can be fully appreciated. Curators Julia Charlton and Fiona Rankin-Smith, and consultant Marion Arnold commented on the problematics of curating mega-shows, in terms of conceptual integrity ('survey shows') and the practicalities of space.

Says Marion Arnold: "I don't think 'survey' was ever an integral part of the brief. It said 'take 25 years and work with it'. I remember very early on Robert Greig making some flip comment about what's coming up at the festival and saying 'of course visual arts are attempting to do the impossible - how can one do 25 years of South African history?' Now he was sucking straws out of the wind because nobody had ever said we were going to do that. Instead, we tended to allow certain ideas to come through under the auspices of the concept 'Emergence'. And I liked that as an idea, because it was so broad and flexible, and it allowed for one to say 'something has always been present for those 25 years; something has not emerged until 1990 or 1994; something has not emerged until a chip got in a machine.' There were so many ways of saying 'now we can look back and see what we could not see before, or we can see in a different way what was there before. So I don't think it is a survey show, although it takes a chronology."

"I think one of the major differences is that we are not international curators. I think that is quite a critical difference", added Charlton. "And it's not only looking at the contemporary which a lot of these shows are doing", Rankin-Smith interjects.

Charlton states: "I think those points are important because although we acknowledge our subjectivity in terms of the choices we make and blah blah blah, we have both worked in South African museums for 15 years, and so have a real familiarity with the field, and what irritates me about the curators of those South African shows is their ignorance. So while we may well have not included an artist who you think would be a critical artist to include, it is probably not because we didn't think about it, or we were unconscious of making that decision. Which is I think, a big difference."

When asked to comment on the editorial process, sighs and rolling eyes indicated that this was an unenviable task, described by Rankin-Smith as " harrowing, devastating, in fact!" Edited down to less than half of what was originally considered for exhibition, it's no wonder that space was a major concern right from the show's conception.

"We didn't want to make space deciding factor in terms of the rest of the venues for the show. We could argue really strongly for each inclusion that we made. We genuinely felt that we could not not have a particular piece, even if it made for a cleaner, more pristine kind of show. And - the kind of show that it is, given its strong textual base and its timeline and its activity and energy, has a different aesthetic than a single piece on a wall", says Charlton.

Arnold takes it further: " I think its nature actually asks it to be a 'messy' show. It's whole premise is to question the tidiness of classification. That visual energy needs to be here. It has aesthetic resonance, but that asks for keen contemplation, not for some kind of didactic history lesson."

'Emergence' ends March 25, 2000.

Standard Bank Gallery, corner Simmonds and Fredericks streets
Gallery hours: Mon - Fri, 8am - 4.30pm; Sat 9am - 1pm


Kevin Brand

Kevin Brand
Esmeralda 1999
Painted bronze
8.5 x 7 x 5 cm

Louise Linder

Louise Linder
Dusk 2000
oil on canvas
49 x 49 cm


SMALL MEMORIALS - Kevin Brand's 'Late Afternoon' and Louise Linder's 'Encounters' at the Millennium Gallery, Pretoria
By Samantha Dunlop

On Tuesday morning, March 7, I arrived at Pretoria's Millennium Gallery to view works by Kevin Brand and Louise Linder. The walkabout with Brand scheduled for that time did not happen: Brand and I were the only ones there. Mortified, I assured him it was more likely the drive to Pretoria which had deterred prospective viewers. This however, got me thinking. If this is a Gauteng/ Cape Town issue, it's a sorry state of affairs. That an artist of Brand's commitment and stature is given the cold shoulder by our art-viewing public is pathetic.

Brand's show, 'Late Afternoon', consists of a neat collection of 32 small scale bronze and worked bronze pieces set onto individual waist-high plinths, which facilitate viewing. 'Late Afternoon' is, in the artists own words, a "little retrospective". It represents the consolidation of selected themes and ideas which have preoccupied the artist over a period of ten years.

Looking at the installation from a purely thematic perspective, one is struck by the eclecticism of Brand's subject matter, which ranges from garden gnomes through to a schematic representation of members of the Mandela Football Club (in a stylistic nod to Dr. Phutuma Sekoa), to the soldier and the ballerina of that children's story. Despite this, the installation is tightly focused and cohesive, perhaps due to its uniform scale and medium. In this way, it becomes gestalt-like, and the whole becomes greater than the sum of its component parts.

While Louise Linder's works bear no actual resemblance to those by Brand, the impetus behind them can be construed as similar. Like Brand's sculptures, Linder's oil paintings are backward-looking. The works in question are representations of her childhood encounters, copied from family photographs, with the landmarks and citizens of colonial Mozambique.

Linder's works, like Brand's, are small in scale. Upon discussing the downsizing of his works, Brand commented upon how different it felt, physically, to work with small objects. It became, somehow, intimate, he inferred. Linder's and Brand's works assume an intimacy, on viewing, that goes beyond their scale. They afford oblique glimpses of the two artist's attempts at working through, managing, and representing their own past actions and experiences. It would be a pity to miss this show.

Exhibition closes March 18, 2000

For more information, call Linza on (012) 46-8217.

The Millennium Gallery, 75 George Storrar Drive, Groenkloof,
Tel: (012) 46-8217

- Samantha Dunlop has recently completed her Masters in History of Art at Wits University and works as a creative consultant.

Jose Ferreira

Jose Ferreira
Man Friday - the politics of neurosis
multi-track video


Jose Ferreira: MAN FRIDAY - The Politics of Neurosis
by Virginia MacKenny

Jose Ferreira's video Man Friday - The Politics of Neurosis, inaugurates the new media room at the NSA. It is an apt choice given South Africa's history of colonisation and recent preoccupation with examining this legacy.

The image and method in the video are simple. The soundtrack, taken from the audio-book of Robinson Crusoe, recorded at that point where Crusoe discovers "the print of a man's naked foot on the shore", contextualises the image and points to the implications of a land already occupied when the colonisers arrive. A round, isolating frame, reminiscent of the view through a telescope or microscope (instruments of scientific examination utilised by the colonising powers to document and claim what they discovered, focuses the viewer on a single act: the refeathering of a dead parrot. There is no way of creating an image like this except on film; recording an act and playing it backwards. Here the plucking of the bird becomes, in reverse and speeded up, a desperate bid to reimbue life into that which is already lifeless; a tragic and pathetic attempt to turn a parrot into a phoenix which fails. Here the parrot, normally standard fare in the pirate or comic world, gains a metaphorical edge and poignancy not often seen.

It is the work's visual simplicity that succeeds. Strong in its conceptualisation and clear and powerful in its presentation it is only the extra tampering with the aural elements of the piece, turning the sound into a confused blur of echoing and overlays, which seems a slightly unnecessarily addition. Whilst conceptually legible this additional complexity does not appear to add to a work already cogent and poetic in its impact.

An convincing choice which promises well for Storm van Rensburg's new venture.

Closes April 1, 2000

NSA Gallery
166 Bulwer Road, Glenwood, Durban 4001
Tel/Fax: +27-31-202-2293 Email:

Nuno Da Cruz

Nuno da Cruz

Nuno Da Cruz and Andre Naude at the NSA
by Virginia MacKenny

The current NSA exhibition pairs Nuno Da Cruz and Andre Naude in a show that should prove popular with the gallery-going public. Both artists are technically proficient and produce art that is visually appealing and graphically powerful.

Da Cruz draws on the optical seduction of the graphic mark and the appropriated graphic image. Stylish, trendy and accessible the work references the commercial world of advertising and comic strips. The heritage of Warhol, Lichtenstein and other Pop artists is most obvious here with the utilisation of the silk-screen, off-registered images, the emphasis on the mark and the banality of everyday brand naming. In the context of South Africa forty years later, however, these works cannot be seen in the same light as those produced in the sixties.

One might be fighting a little too hard to find a more layered reading of these images, but two works in the show do seem to point to a more critical interrogation of the issues at hand. Star Tac 7 and Aviva Space Travel both contain a curious cultural mix - black characters in a space-age setting with Eastern writing. Ironically these works are the most clumsily produced, but they do give the exhibition a wider context to consider. The spread of American cultural imperialism has meant that Coca Cola is one of the most universally understood symbols of our time and whilst Coca Cola, interestingly, does not make its appearance here the ubiquitous barcode does. Binding us all into a system that is read by computers the world over the barcode speaks of a commodification of more than goods. The Americanisation of the world in these images here, however, meets another cultural power as great if not greater than itself - the world of the Orient - a cultural hybrid is born.

Andre Naude is probably a standard delight in the interior decorator�s world with his spotted and striped references to a South African vocabulary complete with African chic leopard-skin fabric frames. Far from being �Un-Titled� the works carry accessible references; Africa, Safari and Still Life. This will no doubt prove reassuring to a general audience that feels easy with such clarity. Muted in a comfortable range of tones in dusty ochres, greys, whites and blues much of the work reinforces a designer�s sensibility at ease in any stylish home.

There is however an aspect of Naude�s work which steps out of this comfort zone. Made in Africa is a lean work with only a head, a light bulb and a bundle of sticks reminiscent of those which one can often see being carried on the heads of rural people. The work seems to interrogate the sensibility so evident in other works; speaking of an African existence caught between limited technology and subsistence living . Other works too seem to indicate voices not heard or else spoken for in the world of curios and cultural commodification - an Africa not so easily prettified.

Exhibition closes on April 6, 2000

NSA Gallery, 166 Bulwer Road, Glenwood, Durban 4001
Tel/Fax: (031) 202-2293

Colleen Wafer

Colleen Wafer
Catalogue 2000
Mixed media
Installation detail

'Upstart' at the NSA Gallery
by Greg Streak

Despite the recent glut of Technikon Natal showings in Durban this exhibition of selected works of 4th years appears suprisingly refreshed. If one considers that this is a group exhibition constructed from a selection of works of individual artists; artists working in disparate languages and idiosyncratic contents, then all credit should go to curator Storm van Rensburg for achieving a sense of cohesion. 'Upstart' is meditative and sombre. It reflects a series of personal investigations into contemporary issues and debates, ranging from the anxieties and paranoia of living in South Africa, to intimate explorations into personal identity. For those who are remotely visually literate, this exhibition will provide a wonderful read.

In the video installation of Melissa Stevens, Untitled (2000), one is required to sit in a chair and confront a monitor. The monitor is a television - of the vernacular found in most South African homes. On the screen is the image of a man, cropped at the shoulders staring out blankly at you. Perhaps what he sees is a figure sitting in a chair staring blankly back at him. The banality of this experiment; sitting looking at someone looking at you, the seeming "nothingness" of this interaction, perhaps becomes a telling metaphor for most of our TV viewing. Sitting, observing, for the most part, prosaic soap operas and other vacuous audio-visual mush, is perhaps no more banal than the orchestration you have become a part of in the Gallery space.

Catalogue (2000), by Colleen Wafer is seductive, but don't be deceived by the moon-blue glow that emanates from a horizontal light box, and which lights up the walls underneath the mezzanine. This exquisite blue hue is the consequence of fluorescent light filtered through a series of blue microfiche sheets - transparencies that were used to store inconceivable quantities of information; information that can only be accessed with specialized macro-lens viewing equipment which is not publicly available. A hand magnifying glass is teasingly presented for the viewer to access that which is unobtainable. One thinks here of sugarcoated catch phrases used to create a false sense of truth; a sleight of hand that reveals all but the actual secret. This microfiched, archive of the personal details of civilians - sealed away for the perusal only of the privileged, could reflect the dark underbelly of a power structure which utilizes this information for its own end.

'Upstart' is a precise expose of the current senior crop of creative potential in the Fine Art department of the Technikon Natal.

The exhibition closes March 16

NSA Gallery, 166 Bulwer Road, Glenwood, Durban 4001
Tel/Fax: +27-31-202-2293

-Greg Streak is a practising artist based in Durban

Carol-Anne Gainer

Carol-Anne Gainer
Still from 'Rolling' as performed at Red Eye

Carol-Anne Gainer

Carol-Anne Gainer
Still from 'Rolling' as performed at Red Eye

Carol-Anne Gainer

Carol-Anne Gainer
Still from 'Rolling' as performed at Red Eye

Red Eye at the Durban Art Gallery
by Sam Alex

Red Eye hit Durban again on Friday. The highly successful event that has brought a new energy to the Kwa-Zulu Natal art scene, and spawned others of its ilk in both Gauteng and Cape Town, continues to draw the crowds keen to be entertained and eager to socialise.

This month the DAG circular gallery carried Steve Hilton Barber's 'Maputo Corridor'. Easy to install, quick to access, but dense in its imagery, it embraced the restrictions of a one-night stand at Red Eye. Far from being a dry socio-documentarian Hilton-Barber has a keen and witty eye that captures the bizarre juxtapositions which one so often finds in this multivalent continent. Two small children from Phiva village clutching an ad for Gossard underscore the point with the inscription 'Do you wonder Bra?'.

Carol-Anne Gainer's 'Rolling' piece engaged the site-specific demands of the event by interacting with Lieke Grob's 'Daily Life in a Suitcase'. Shrouded in flour sieved over her she rolled naked along the gallery floor leaving a body impression at each packing case - the piece spoke of women's work, personal sacrifice and a curious private transcendance.

In the music line two drummers introduced THC in a riveting session of intense finely coordinated drumming whilst Jay Pather's Siwele Sonke dance company engaged with a fragment of 'Siddhartha' soon to be on at the Playhouse.

With its multimedia approach, its ability to introduce new talent and its support of the production of contemporary art Red Eye remains an event worth supporting. If, however, it wishes to retain a critical edge and continue to challenge its audience the organising committee needs to tighten the brief it offers itself and participating artists. Too many of the visual arts shown are simply lifted from one venue and placed in the spaces of the Durban Art Gallery without any critical interrogation of what an evening within this context might mean. In addition in its bid to be all-embracing Red Eye has become a bit of a cultural pot-pourri. Whilst as one-off events Mendhi tattooists, Bollywood movies and sangoma readings are capable of throwing up interesting question marks around definitions of art - as monthly fixtures they have a tendency to become fairground sideshows. Red Eye is in danger of becoming a hybrid bazaar with its t-shirt sellers and fashion gestures towards ethnic eclecticism. However, when all is said and done it still remains a great way to start a Friday evening.

- Sam Alex is the psuedonym of a Durban artist

Annelieke Grob

Annelieke Grob
Daily Life in a Suitcase
Multimedia installation

Annelieke Grob - 'Daily Life in a Suitcase' at the DAG
by Virginia MacKenny

Dutch artist Annelieke Grob's Daily Life in a Suitcase, is not the sort of exhibition you should pop in to see if you only have a couple of minutes to spare. Ten years in the making and densely packed with visual, auditory and tactile stimuli it takes a while to orientate oneself in relation to the plethora of drawers, knobs and screens that present themselves for scrutiny. Telling the lives of six South African women, four black and two white, the project was initiated by sending a suitcase with a camera and instructions to various women who were prepared to participate.

These disparate lives are brought into union through the structural device of the packing cases that are cleverly designed not only to carry the works, but also open like old-fashioned dressers to reveal their contents. Rarely has the feminist dictum �the personal is political� been so clearly elucidated. Generic categories such as "family"� "house"� "work"� and "garden"� allow the viewer to make comparative assessments between the lives of the woman. These comparisons reveal the larger context within which the women live.

Jerry cans and paraffin stoves play off hairdryers and electric mixers. The minutiae of domesticity slowly and effectively builds up a very powerful sense of the differences that apartheid created. Narratives of privilege are played out against narratives of loss - Audrey Heyns� simple statement "I seldom swim. You know how it goes, when one has a pool one does not use it much"� becomes jarring when set against Kedibone Elisabeth Malulika's celebratory declaration at having running water in her new bathroom. This is given added poignancy when she remarks that they hope to add a geyser so they can have "hot water!"

The cut-out figures atop the crates or the tableaus set up within them become equally telling in their simplicity. The miniature, pink, plastic suitcase packed with "daily sources of strength"� from the bible is integral to the life of a woman handicapped in childhood by the spillage of boiling water, the little flickering toy TV or the dolls china tea set talk of familiar daily rituals that structure the various women�s lives. Individual stories, told through mini projection boxes which viewers have to activate by hand, engage through their more open interpretation of events in the women's lives.

The narratives, on the whole, though, seem to come across more powerfully in words than in the visual presentation. Whilst the panoramic shots around the women's homes are powerfully evocative the considerable quantity of snapshots presented produces a visual fatigue that leads to generalised looking. It is only the small typed headings that stop us and call one to scrutinize more closely. The simple one-liners where the women make statements of their own personal triumphs or insights into life or talk of their gardens; the need for a fence to keep goats out; the dream of fruit trees, seem to indicate that a book could as easily and effectively been constructed from these encounters.

Durban Art Gallery, 2nd Floor, City Hall, Smith Street
Tel: (031) 300-6234/5/8
Gallery hours from 09:00 to 12:00

 Jane Alexander

Jane Alexander
Street Cadets with Harbinger: Wish, Walk/ Loop long 1997/98
Mixed Media


Jane Alexander at the Gasworks, London
This review by Izi Glover is reprinted from Time Out magazine, (Mar 8 - 15)

Jane Alexander presents an uneasy vision of social relationships and the inherent discrepancies of power within them. Because she is South African, her work is inevitably read as a critique of race relations, but to concentrate on race alone neglects subtler meanings. The three sculptures on show have a macabre taint but, in each piece, the nightmarish quality resonates at a different pitch. A diminutive figure loiters at the back of the gallery. His grey, glassy eyes watch through holes in a hood that suggests intimidation and violence, yet his apron denotes servility - a weak henchman, his presence suggests cowardly allegiance to fascist power. Also present is a straggling trio of figures based on observations of street children. A bald chimp links a girl standing on a trolley with a baby perched on a miniature wagon. Their costumes are hand me downs, their playthings scavenged, their identity lost. The girl and toddler both wear jarring masks that add to the dissonance of this terrible portrait.
Alexander's photomontages also feature masked or blindfolded youths. The black and white, computer manipulated images have smooth surfaces but rough associations. Against industrial or suburban backdrop, Alexander inserts solitary foreground figures and places the odd feral scavenger in the landscape. Alienated from their surroundings, these youths are chilling totems of a society predicated on division.




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