New art space opens at Johannesburg Civic Theatre
Amid stress and pressure from the old Civic Theatre Gallery stakeholders that have given way to invention and successful negotiations with new Johannesburg Civic Theatre management, this weekend marks the launch of a new space in the theatre complex, simply named The | Premises.
Administered by The Trinity Session and a gallery committee and run by Boy Bangala, The | Premises is situated somewhere between a contemporary art gallery, a project room and an all-round "art-as-infotainment" zone with planned film screenings, workshops, exhibitions, events and a reading room in the pipeline. The name of the space provides ample and necessary movement between events happening "on" The Premises (exhibitions and events in the space) and "off" The Premises (public projects).
The primary objective of the space is to address the role that the visual arts can play in all aspects of contemporary South African culture. Taking into consideration the concerns that some audiences have about entering the city centre, another objective is to establish relationships with cultural affiliates and individuals through this dilemma. The on/off The Premises strategy hopes to intercept many of the devices contemporary artists are employing that lie beyond our normal "art" expectations, as well as those that galleries are having to co-opt in order to be more effective and visible in the relationship between art and business. In addition, these new strategies offer a more dynamic model for the management of social, cultural, and educational functions within the arts.
In conjunction with the gala launch of the new Civic Theatre complex, The Premises launched its profile on August 6 2001 with a viewing of 'Blindspot', a collection of new South African video and digital art curated by Christian Nerf.
The public launch of the space, which takes place on Saturday September 22 from noon 'til late, will once again feature 'Blindspot', a musical collaboration between MXO and DJ+27, and an active data-capturing exercise between the gallery and visitors. Instead of an exhibition of art in the traditional sense, the space will be transformed into a 3D version of a website-under-construction called www.onair.co.za. Artists and culture workers will have their portraits taken and datacards filled in. Visitors are invited to respond to future projects and planned events that will be outlined in a series of "desktop folders" waiting to be filled. In this way, valuable information regarding the responsibilities, shortfalls and praiseworthy aspects of how contemporary art spaces function will be gathered on an ongoing basis in the form of an online archive.
Given that the theatre has completely restructured itself from a Section 21 organisation into a Pty Ltd "receiving theatre", the space has had to follow suit. The Theatre is now promoting its Times Square at the Civic facilities which include a business centre and internet café, ticket office, bars, restaurant, conference facilities, theatres, a retail store and, now, a gallery space.
The space occupies a new location in an ex-archive room in the basement parking. It is a windowless white cube with 102 square meters of floor space that the Theatre has sponsored for three years, rent-free. It awaits proposals from artists, publishers, filmmakers, musicians, curators and anyone else who would like to work with a team of young contemporary artists towards exhibitions, events or public projects.
Opening: September 22 at noon. Video projections at dusk. Cash bar
The | Premises, Johannesburg Civic Theatre, off Loveday Street, Braamfontein
Tel: (011) 403 3408 ext 184 (Boy Bangala)