Archive: Issue No. 56, April 2002

Go to the current edition for SA art News, Reviews & Listings.

24.04.02 David Koloane at Galerie Seippel, Cologne
17.04.02 South African artists at the BIG Torino, Italy
03.04.02 Kendell Geers - 'Mondo Kane' at Galleria Continua, Siena
03.04.02 Anton Brink - 'pARTs' at the Cité in Paris
13.03.02 Greta Matthews in Amsterdam
20.02.02 'Ubuntu' at the Musée des Arts d'Afrique et d'Océanie in Paris

24.04.02 Poet Lesego Rampolokeng at 'Right 2 Fight', New York
10.04.02 'AIDS and South Africa' exhibition at Wellesley College
20.03.02 Thabiso Phokompe at Axis Gallery, New York
28.02.02 William Kentridge tour moves to Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston
30.01.02 Zwelethu Mthethwa at the Forum for Contemporary Art, Washington
30.01.02 'The Short Century' at PS1 in New York

20.03.02 South Africans at the São Paulo Bienal

David Koloane

David Koloane

David Koloane at Galerie Seippel, Cologne

'Johannesburg Blues' is the title of Jo'burg artist David Koloane's solo show at Galerie Seippel. Coinciding with the exhibition, a discussion on post-apartheid South African art will take place at the gallery on June 5 from 6pm. Koloane is also one of the South African artists included on the group exhibition 'Township Blues - Artists from the Rainbow Nation' which will open at the Kunst:Raum Sylt-Quelle in June.

Opening: April 26
Closing: June 29

Galerie Seippel, Zeughausstr 26, 50667 Cologne, Germany
Tel: 0049 221 25 5834

Gregg Smith

Gregg Smith
Trams Taken and Trams Missed
Performance at Muiderpoort, Amsterdam, September 2001

Hentie van der Merwe

Hentie van der Merwe
United Colors
Framed black-and-white photographs, military ribbons and texts bound in two books displayed on a wooden pedestal
Installation view

Hentie van der Merwe

Hentie van der Merwe
United Colors
Installation detail, BIG Torino

South African artists at the BIG Torino, Italy

South African artists Hentie van der Merwe, Gregg Smith and the arts initiative The Trinity Session have all been invited to take part in Turin's second Biennale Internazionale Arte Giovane - BIG Torino 2002. This multidisciplinary biennale is aimed at the promotion of young creativity and gives prominence to emerging artists under 35 years of age. The theme of the festival is "Big Social Game", described by artistic director Michelangelo Pistoletto as an invitation to young artists to "play together at changing society".

Gregg Smith, currently resident in Amsterdam, will give a public performance on Turin's Via Po, titled Trams Taken and Trams Missed. Utilising performance and video, Smith's current work involves the artist telling semi-fictional narratives while doing various physical activities, in order to "explore new ways of committing to one's personal situation, body and emotions. ... [S]imultaneously it is a meditation on the condition of trying to go in two directions at once - feeling one thing and acting another."

For Trams Taken and Trams Missed Smith, who has something of an obsession with night-time tram rides around Amsterdam, has developed a character, a frustrated artist and salesman of health and fitness products, who travels on trams for hours at night when he can't sleep. Smith continues: "He tells some stories of intimate encounters which occur during these journeys. They are quite charming, a bit melancholic and sometimes very sad and shameful. The stories are told while skipping with a rope in a public place for about 20 minutes. I am in fantastic shape at the moment."

Hentie van der Merwe will exhibit a work titled United Colours - a continuous line of military ribbons installed at chest height and stretching the length of a 23m corridor space. The ribbons, which at first glance appear as an abstract line of colours, are in fact commemorative war ribbons from Nato member countries. With the aid of texts, says Van der Merwe, the visitor to this exhibition "will be made aware that this 'innocent' and beautiful line of colours stands as a code for a world history littered with incidences of war and political violence".

Opposite the ribbons will be displayed black and white portraits of young people - "the type to be found almost everywhere in the world ... who seem to derive their image and way of dressing from the idea of a global youth/street culture promoted by the media, advertising and popular culture". Van der Merwe writes: "I see myself as part of a younger generation of people faced with such questions relating to mediating between a history fraught with political struggle, violence and injustices and thinking about the kind of identities and morals we would, and could, assume in this particular moment in history."

The Trinity Session - Kathryn Smith, Stephen Hobbs and Marcus Neustetter - are taking part in the online section of the biennale, Their 'Safe Food' project has a number of components, including the auction on Artthrob's Project page this month, a fundraising event in Joubert Park on April 28, research in collaboration with Homeless Talk newspaper, visual literacy workshops and the 'Safe Food' website to be shown in Turin.

Focusing on the "survivalist strategies" associated with homeless existence, the artists describe 'Safe Food' as "a matrix of urban phenomenologies employing image and text to describe and define human conditions for existence in a landscape commonly perceived through fear and threat". For more information and to take part see the Project page (where a full press release can be downloaded) and visit the 'Safe Food' website at

Opening: April 19
Closing: May 19

Biennale Internazionale Arte Giovane - BIG Torino 2002, Turin, Italy

Kendell Geers

Kendell Geers
'Mondo Kane'

Kendell Geers

Kendell Geers
May Day, London
Colour photograph

Kendell Geers - 'Mondo Kane' at Galleria Continua, Siena

Kendell Geers' first solo show in Italy, 'Mondo Kane' follows a year in which the artist stopped making work to focus on new directions in his oeuvre. The exhibition will feature some older works and photographs that have not been shown previously, as well as a number of new installations that promise "a change in direction toward the poetic and spiritual aspects of production" - an intriguing development in Geers' previously confrontational and overtly political career.

According to a gallery press release, the title for the exhibition refers both to the 1962 Italian shockumentary Mondo Cane and Orson Welles' 1941 masterpiece Citizen Kane. The latter opens with a tarnished sign on a forbidding black wire fence that would be at home in many of Geers' installations, like the 50-metre razorwire labyrinth now permanently installed in Germany between Munster and Osnabruck. Mondo Cane shocked the world when it was first released as it traveled back and forth from the "civilised" to the primitive world, featuring weird religious rituals, sautéed insect entrées and graphic scenes of the human being lost and at the mercy of nature.

The exhibition begins with Truth or Dare, Geers' last work before his sabbatical, which involved the artist subjecting curator Jan Hoet to the talents of a Dutch dominatrix. As the press release states, "Inverting power relations through the performative where the private and public are mirrored in one another has been a strategic thread through much of Geers' work from the past decade and a half." Another work comprises a portrait of the citizens of San Gimigiano intermingled with a portrait of the art world's elite, both "caught" with their fingerprints left behind after sipping wine or beer in a bar or at an opening. Again, the gallery states: "The most banal ritual of unconsciously drinking free wine at an opening is transformed by Geers into an act of culpability and a powerful statement about the viewer accepting responsibility for their presence in the white cube gallery."

Born in Johannesburg but now resident in Brussels, Geers has appeared on major international shows including 'Inverse Perspectives' in Sweden, curated by Joseph Bakstein; 'Acts of Resistance� at San Sebastian in Spain, curated by Antonio Zaya; '3 Räume�3 Flüsse' at Kassel, curated by Jan Hoet; and the biennales of Venice, Berlin, Havana and Johannesburg.

Opening: April 6
Closing: May 21

Galleria Continua, 53037 Via Arco dei Becci, 1, San Gimignano, Siena, Italy
Tel: +39 0577 943134
Fax: +39 0577 940484

Anton Brink

Anton Brink

Anton Brink - 'pARTs' at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris

Grahamstown artist Anton Brink shows works from the 'pARTs' theatre/art project, created in collaboration with choreographer Athina Copteros and first presented at Rhodes University's Box Theatre last year. 'pARTs' is an ongoing collaborative project, with new works and performances being added constantly. Brink's intention is to present the next full performance/exhibition under the auspices of the Big Wheel theatre and education company in London later this year.

Opening: April 3 at 6pm
Closing: April 13

Cité Internationale des Arts, 18 rue de l'Hotel de Ville, Paris
Hours: Daily, 2pm - 7pm

Greta Matthews

Greta Matthews
Amongst Shadows
Mixed media on paper
45 x 45 cm

Greta Matthews in Amsterdam

Michaelis printmaking graduate Greta Matthews has held a number of solo exhibitions in Ireland and the Netherlands over the past couple of years, and also showed recently at the AVA in Cape Town. At Gallery SAAM in Amsterdam she exhibits 'Amongst Shadows', a series of mixed media non-figurative paintings, drawings and collages.

As the artist describes the work, "lines and cellular shapes appear with underlying traces of earlier formations. These are partly hidden and partly revealed beneath the semi-opacity of the surface. Paint residues and thin washes build the surface and the images emerge as if from within. ... The work is a culmination of fleeting moments, each of which has left its mark, echoing feeling and dialogue. It is about discovering and embracing the invisible, which influences our everyday journey through a pathless land. [It] is also about acknowledging the shadow side of existence. ... It is about the conscious and sub-conscious states of being, moments between darkness and light."

Opening: March 21
Closing: April 27

Gallery SAAM, Prinsengracht 626 sous, Amsterdam

Shona doll

Shona doll

'Ubuntu' at the Musée des Arts d'Afrique et d'Océanie in Paris

'Ubuntu: Art and Culture in South Africa' is a major exhibition of South African traditional art, with objects borrowed from public and private collections. It is the first time that a French national museum has held an important exhibition of this kind. It focuses on everyday, personal and utilitarian objects based on four themes: authority and power, everyday life, cult of the ancestors, and individual and collective identities. As part of a training programme sponsored by the French Embassy, Churchill Madikida will spend six weeks in Paris to follow the preparation of the exhibition. A researcher of traditional cultures at the University of the Witwatersrand, Madika has also been trained as curator for the African Collection of the Gertrude Posel Gallery.

Opening: February 19
Closing: June 17

Musée des Arts d'Afrique et d'Océanie, Paris


Poet Lesego Rampolokeng at 'Right2Fight', New York

Soweto performance poet Lesego Rampolokeng takes part in a one-day cross-disciplinary event on the theme of police violence, at Sarah Lawrence College, New York. 'Right2Fight' explores the ways in which cultural producers across the world are engaging with intrusive and brutal policing, as weapons become more sophisticated and grassroots dissatisfaction with political and economic systems grows.

'Right2Fight' is a constellation" of performances, film and video screenings, installations, showings of and web-based pieces intended to prompt dialogue and questions about the social and ethical costs of police violence. Among the contributors are Martha Rosler and Gregory Sholette; the organisers are Dominique Malaquais, an urban historian who works in Central Africa and teaches at Sarah Lawrence College, and Trebor Scholz, an East Berlin-born artist whose work has been extensively shown in Europe and the Americas.

April 27

Sarah Lawrence College, New York

Andries Botha

Andries Botha
Mixed media (cotton, paper, latex, acrylic, human hair)
100 x 100 cm

Penny Siopis

Penny Siopis
Baby in Red
Cibachrome photograph
100 x 80 cm

'AIDS and South Africa' exhibition at Wellesley College

An exhibition of work by South African artists addressing HIV/AIDS will form part of a larger conference titled 'AIDS and South Africa: The Social Expression of a Pandemic' at Wellesley College, near Boston, this month.

The conference, to be held on April 19 and 20, will focus on the causes and consequences of the AIDS pandemic in South Africa, with the understanding that the AIDS crisis in Africa is "one of the most important social and public health problems in the world today".

Curated by the South African National Gallery's Marilyn Martin and Kyle Kauffman, associate professor of economics at Wellesley College, the accompanying exhibition features existing and commissioned works by 11 artists: Clive van den Berg, Andries Botha, Lien Botha, David Goldblatt, Senzeni Marasela, Gideon Mendel, Neo Matome, Karel Nel, Sam Nhlengethwa, Penny Siopis and Sue Williamson.

Martin writes: "This selection includes South African artists who are internationally known and others who are rising stars. ... These works illustrate the new face of artistic activism in contemporary South African art and will hopefully contribute to the ongoing debate, as well as to a better understanding of and caring for those who are affected."

The artists have written statements about their work for a catalogue, to be published by UCT Press and launched when the exhibition moves to the South African National Gallery, opening on December 1, World AIDS Day.

In one of these statements, Van den Berg writes of his work Love's Ballast (2000-01): "Much of my recent work has been concerned with imaging the love between men. I became aware of AIDS as a threat to love in the early 80s. As I make love now, I honor the men who have died. They are often in my thoughts as I experience pleasure and enact in and on skin the proof of my being. They are dead, and their death haunts me most powerfully in the act of love. The ballast of pleasure is memory and it is that new geography of love that I am picturing."

In another statement, Senzeni Marasela writes about The Invisible Martyr (2001), a work using ladies' handkerchiefs, thread and beads to reflect on the death of Gugu Dlamini, who was stoned to death in 1998 after revealing her HIV-positive status: "After her death many were forced into silence and live with guilt and shame. Very little is known about the life of Gugu Dlamini. She dared to think that she could, through herself, show the reality of this virus. Dlamini perished at the hands of those she thought she could help. HIV continues to spread. This is positively frightening."

Marilyn Martin will give a presentation on the exhibition during the conference at 1.30pm on April 20 (venue: Pendleton West 212).

Opening: April 19
Closing: June 15

Pendleton Hall, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA 02481

Thabiso Phokompe at Axis Gallery, New York

Axis presents the debut New York solo show of Thabiso Phokompe, one of the South African artists included on the exhibition 'Liberated Voices: Contemporary Art from South Africa' which opened at the Museum for African Art in New York in 1999. Now resident there, Phokompe studied at Fuba in the 1980s and then at the Johannesburg Art Foundation.

Phokompe uses found objects in his work and draws on site-specific and abstract traditions, while remaining grounded in African concepts and materials such as natural fibre and earth. He incorporates and hides medicinal materials and objects similar to those he witnessed his mother use in her work as a diviner and herbalist in the Zulu tradition. The Axis press release continues: "South Africa may be the birthplace of humanity, and archaeologists recently uncovered there the oldest known work of art, an engraved piece of ochre 77 000 years old. It is this same ochre that Phokompe uses in his work, asserting a present that overleaps history."

Opening: March 22, 6-9pm
Closing: May 4

Axis Gallery, 453 West 17th Street, fourth floor, New York, NY 10011
Tel: 212 741 2582
Fax: 212 924 2522
Hours: Tues - Sat 11am - 6pm

William Kentridge

William Kentridge
Casspirs Full of Love, 1989

Photo: New Museum of Contemporary Art

William Kentridge tour moves to Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston

The 11 animated films of William Kentridge are getting the full tour treatment with a survey show currently travelling through the United States and scheduled eventually to end up at the South African National Gallery in Cape Town. Organised by Dan Cameron, Staci Boris and Neal Benezra, the tour's first stop was the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington. Here, each film was given its own viewing space - as Jeff Gibson of Artforum puts it, "a must for cutting an interpretive swathe through the prickly thicket of Kentridge's content-laden parables". The show has subsequently toured to the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

Opening: March 2
Closing: June 2


Contemporary Arts Museum, 5216 Montrose Blvd, Houston, Texas
Tel: 713 284 8250
Fax: 713 284 8275

The exhibition next travels to the following venues:

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles
July 21 - October 6 2002

South African National Gallery, Cape Town
December 7 2002 - March 23 2003

Zwelethu Mthethwa

Zwelethu Mthethwa
Untitled, 2000
C-print on plexi
38 x 51 inches

Zwelethu Mthethwa at the Forum for Contemporary Art, St Louis

Zwelethu Mthethwa is one of three artists chosen for an upcoming photography exhibition at the Forum for Contemporary Art which examines the role of staging in contemporary portraiture. Organised as three solo exhibits, 'Staging' presents Mthethwa's familiar portraits of squatter camp residents in their homes, alongside works by Janieta Eyre and Julie Moos.

Eyre photographs herself dressed in elaborate costumes set within fantastical rooms, which suggest scenarios that do not exist in real time, while Moos addresses the complexities of human relationships, particularly larger societal structures like schools, churches and corporations. Here she photographed St Louis farmers working with biogenetic engineered seed.

All three artists will attend the opening of 'Staging' on Friday February 22.

Opening: February 22 at 6pm
Closing: May 4

Forum for Contemporary Art, 3540 Washington Ave, St Louis, MO 63103
Tel: 314 535 4660

Kay Hassan

Kay Hassan
1995 - 2001

Photo: Virtual tour of 'The Short Century' by Universes in Universe

'The Short Century' at PS1 in New York

'The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa 1945-1994', first seen at the Villa Stuck in Munich, move to its final destination in New York. (Despite the efforts of the National Gallery's Emma Bedford, the exhibition will not be coming to South Africa.) Curated by Okwui Enwezor, the exhibition encompasses the many faces of African modernism and redefines Africa's place in the annals of 20th century history. 'The Short Century' documents the history of Africa since its partition in 1884/5 during the Berlin Conference, and thus focuses on the second half of the century, a period which began with the liberation from colonialism of certain countries and ended with the first democratic election following the abolition of apartheid in South Africa in 1994.

The interdisciplinary approach of the exhibition links historical documents with contemporary artistic standpoints, and confronts the creations of colonial and anti-colonial propaganda - film and photography, but also poster art, print media and textiles - from both private collections and government archives. This exhibition means that unique examples of regional artistic currents, from the Egyptian awakening to South African resistance art, can now be seen in America for the first time. Architecture and town planning are shown here as an expression of a new, collective self-confidence manifest in the young African states.

The exhibits show personal and collective self-representations of an Africa undergoing urbanisation which is in constant dialogue with the major cities of Europe and North America - many of the continent's leading artists and intellectuals live permanently abroad. Official representations of history are reframed by private pieces of memorabilia: family albums, shrines to memory, memoirs, fashions in dress and popular music take their place alongside traditional art and revolutionary kitsch.

Opening: February 10
Closing: May 5

PS1 Contemporary Art Center and Museum of Modern Art, New York
Tel: 718 784 2084


Jo Ractliffe and Sebastian Diaz Morales

Jo Ractliffe and Sebastian Diaz Morales

Jo Ractliffe and Sebastian Diaz Morales
One Year Later
Still from video

South Africans at the São Paulo Bienal

Johannesburg artist Pitso Chinzima is South Africa's "national representative" at this year's São Paulo Biennale - the 25th. With an overall theme of 'Metropolitan Iconographies', the biennial sets out to explore the influence of urban energy on contemporary artists - for which Chinzima's proposed work using actual minibus taxis along with slide and video footage relating to the taxi industry and the daily life of commuters seems right on the mark.

For the central biennial exhibition '11 Metropolises', South African National Gallery director Marilyn Martin has curated a show of photo-based work by five Johannesburg artists who engage with that city. David Goldblatt, Santu Mofokeng and Ruth Motau document complex and shifting relations between people and spaces/structures through their photography. Bonita Alice will create a variation on her site-specific work Turf, exploring notions of roots and territory, and Jo Ractliffe shows the video work One Year Later, a collaboration with Sebastian Diaz Morales (Buenos Aires/Amsterdam) that was filmed using a Holga toy camera.

There will also be a focus on African video art including works by Zwelethu Mthethwa and Moshekwa Langa. For full details on São Paulo, see News.

Opening: March 23
Closing: June 2

25th Bienal de São Paulo
Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion, Parque do Ibirapuera, São Paulo, Brazil