Archive: Issue No. 64, December 2002

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Joburg Art City Project

Jurgen Schadeberg
Joburg Art City Project, all over central Johannesburg

Joburg Art City Project

Karin Preller
Joburg Art City Project, all over central Johannesburg

Joburg Art City Project

Stephen Hobbs
Joburg Art City Project, all over central Johannesburg

Joburg Art City Project

Zwelethu Mthethwa
Joburg Art City Project, all over central Johannesburg



2002 Year-end Summary

If you have read Ivan Vladislavic's masterfully rendered The Restless Supermarket, chuckled at the stuffy old list maker Aubrey Tearle, then you'll know that the compiling of lists is more of a mania than an idle life pursuit. Nonetheless, the brevity of a list certainly offers its own particular charm. ArtThrob asked a range of individuals from the South African art community to list answers to a range of questions we pitched at them.

Sophie Perryer
Rory Bester
Robert Greig
Kendell Geers
Rochelle Keene
David Krut
Virginia MacKenny
Paul Edmunds
Kathryn Smith
Sean O'Toole

1. Best Local Show

Angela Ferreira's Zip Zap Circus School, Cape Town

2. Other Highlights (Local or International)

'Beyond the Material' at the South African National Gallery, Cape Town
'William Kentridge' at the South African National Gallery, Cape Town
'David Goldblatt' at the Michaelis Gallery, Cape Town
Kendell Geers' 'Sympathy for the Devil', Palais de Tokyo, Paris

3. Biggest Disappointment

Okwui Enwezor's 'The Short Century' not showing anywhere in Africa

4. Best Review

Virginia MacKenny on South Africa's contribution to Documenta11, in issue 1 of Art South Africa.

5. Best Catalogue

Fresh: Robin Rhode/Dorothee Kreutzfeld - a beautiful packaged, eminently collectible series on "fresh" talent.

6. Best Art Book

Kendell Geers' monograph My Tongue in Your Cheek - gorgeous, substantial documentation of an explosive body of work.

7. Best Website

www.artthob.co.za: for surviving against the odds.

8. One to watch for 2003

Michaelis Prize winner Matt Hindley.

9. Quote of the year

"Bruce stood up and the bidding started" - Edward Young describing Bruce Gordon, his artwork for the Michaelis auction (Weekend Argus, December 7)

Formerly the editor of ArtThrob, Sophie Perryer is currently editor of ART South Africa, a new quarterly print publication dedicated to contemporary art in South Africa.

1. Best Local Show

Penny Siopis' 'Pinky Pinky', at the Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

2. Other Highlights (Local or International)

Joburg Art City Project, all over central Johannesburg
'States of Emergence' at Warren Siebrits Modern and Contemporary Art, Johannesburg
'The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa 1945-1994' at P.S.1/MoMA, New York

3. Biggest Disappointment

The Penny Siopis retrospective at the Gertrude Posel Gallery, Johannesburg

4. Best Review

Nothing stands out in the ever-dwindling coverage of visual arts by newspapers that claim to "cover" arts and culture. While magazines such as Art South Africa are a welcome relief and provide a much-needed injection of information, the sustainability of such high-end quarterly publications depends in part on the momentum created by regular visual arts exposure in daily and weekly media.

5. Best Catalogue

Emma Bedford's series of catalogues for the Fresh artist-in-residence programme at the SANG. It has been a mammoth undertaking and the boxed collection of catalogues will be a treat.

6. Best Art Book

Despite a shaky start, indifferent design, and uneven reproduction, the Taxi Art series is still the only consistent source of new books on South African art.

7. Best Website

www.artthob.co.za: It's amazing how this site has become a global reference for people with an interest in South African visual art.

8. One to watch for 2003

Robin Rhode. It's going to interesting how he becomes a global presence, and tackles the grander collaborative performance projects that are currently so much in vogue.

9. Quote of the year

Anything from the debate between Kendell Geers and Maishe Maponya. It's symptomatic of an institutional malaise.

Rory Bester is an art historian and curator based in Johannesburg, South Africa. He recently curated 'The Field's Edge: Africa, Diaspora, Lens', on show at USF Contemporary Art Museum in Tampa, Florida.

Robert declined to submit a list, but was kind enough to allow us to print the following, edited comment.

"Thank you for the invitation. I am leery of contributing to lists. My reasons: they are very easy, best and usually done by daily newspapers and amount to consumer guidance. I feel the real lack is - at risk of sounding stuffy - criticism."

Robert Greig, arts editor with The Sunday Independent, is a poet, winner of the Olive Schreiner Prize for poetry and the Thomas Pringle Prize for drama.

1. Best Local Show

Siemon Allen at the Artist's Space, New York

2. Other Highlights (Local or International)

Marlene Dumas at Galerie Xeno X, Antwerp
Penny Siopis' 'Pinky Pinky', at the Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
'David Goldblatt Fifty-One Years', co-curated by Corinne Diserens and Okwui Enwezor
'The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa 1945-1994' at P.S.1/MoMA, New York

3. Biggest Disappointment

Documenta 11, in Kassel, Germany

4. Best Review

The state of reviews around the world has never been more dire and there is no such thing as a critical discourse today.

Best Catalogue

States of Emergence from Warren Siebrits Modern and Contemporary. As we have embraced the contemporary I think that many curators have forgotten that no artist exists in a vacuum. The 'States of Emergence' exhibition and catalogue created a context for understanding why an artist like Kentridge exists and precisely articulated the context from which he emerged. It is really tragic, however, that commercial galleries are doing the work of museums.

6. Best Art Book

Robert Hodgins by Tafelberg Publishers. A book on this very important artist has been long overdue. For me, Robert Hodgins is the best painter South Africa has ever had and his influence stretches across numerous generations. The book is very well designed and extremely articulate, with a range of essays that are as broad as they are in conflict with one another. I hope that this book will introduce the work of Hodgins to a wider audience and accord him the respect and standing appropriate to his work.

7. Best Website

www.google.com, although I would like to acknowledge that www.artthob.co.za has in the past year become a great deal less nepotistic and has begun to acknowledge artists from outside the small networks of the writers. I hope that this next year will see ArtThrob become even more open to what's really going on with South African artists around the world and outside circles of self-interest.

8. One to watch for 2003

Johannes Phokela, Robin Rhode and Henti van der Merwe internationally.

9. Quote of the year

"Mr. Geers is absolutely correct when he notes that the collection in the [Johannesburg Art] Gallery does not belong to any individual, and is in fact public property." Maishe Maponya

Statement by Kendell Geers:

"My answers are those of a South African artist living in Brussels and reflect an international perspective. On the other hand, I return to South Africa every three to four months and I am more committed to supporting South African art and artists than ever before. That support is, however, neither emotional nor sentimental, but from an international point of view (whatever that means).

In the post Documenta period, the honeymoon is certainly over for South African, not to mention African, art and artists. In the build up to Documenta, countless curators were trying to pre-empt the choice of African artists and thus many of us enjoyed an unprecedented freedom and wide margin of error. The chips are, however, now down and Africa is the last place on earth that curators will now be looking for art.

For the years to come those of us in the international loop have a huge responsibility to try and lure curators to look at artists who have not been so lucky. On the other hand I think that it's just as important for the artist's who remain locked into the South African situation to support and embrace their contemporaries who are being shown internationally. There is a great deal of paranoia and jealousy that divides us into two camps and ultimately causes a great deal of harm to all South African artists."

Kendell Geers has been very busy in 2002, showing at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris before showcasing a new series of photographs entitled 'Suburbia', at Documenta 11. He was also the subject of an in-depth profile in the magazine Art Papers.

1. Best Local Show Gladys Mgudlandlu 2. Other Highlights (Local or International)

'William Kentridge' at the South African National Gallery, Cape Town
'The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa 1945-1994' at P.S.1/MoMA, New York Monet's 'I luoghi della pittura'. It attracted 450 thousand visitors in four months - more than the Venice Biennale.

3. Biggest Disappointment

The theft of the painting 'Studio of El Greco' from the Johannesburg Art Gallery.

4. Best Review

None

5. Best Catalogue

Nomfanekiso who paints at night: Gladys Mgudlandlu A definitive biography and catalogue of this black woman painter's work, by Elza Miles. Also an important addition to the growing list of biographies on black South African artists. The primary research took many years and lots of detective work to piece together, and the result is a lavishly illustrated, well-designed book.

6. Best Art Book

Art and Aspirations: the Randlords of South Africa and their collections by Dr Michael Stevenson. Fascinating research into the lives and tastes of the Randlords, some of whom were donors to museums in South Africa during the first decade of the 20th century. Sadly, as Stevenson's documents, much of what was of importance from their collections was not brought to this country, and was donated to museums abroad.

7. Best Website

www.artthrob.co.za: up to date, informative and offers a good balance between local and international news.

8. One to watch for 2003

Pitso Chinzima, who represented South Africa at the 25th Sao Paulo Biennale this year.

9. Quote of the year

None

Rochelle Keene is currently director of the Johannesburg Art Gallery.

1. Best local show of 2002

The exhibition in the big UBUNTU tent at the UN Sustainability Conference creating a an awareness of many of the most important South African artists whose careers and reputations are yet to be realised

2. Five best shows of 2002 (local or international)

Tapestry in the Renaissance: Art and Magnificence
Matisse / Picasso at Tate Modern
Barnett Newman at Tate Modern
Anish Kapoor installation at the TATE Modern
William Kentridge travelling retrospective in Houston and Los Angeles

3. Biggest disappointment of 2002 (show/ event etc)

DOCUMENTA

4. Best review (with small motivation why)

There were many good reviews, but I prefer to choose the BEELD newspaper for the consistency of their reviews on the arts

5. Best catalogue (with small motivation why)

Matisse/Picasso

Recording the relationship of the two greatest artists of the 20th Century with wonderful insight into their lives and anecdotes of personal contacts

6. Best art book (with small motivation why)

Lien Botha TAXI-005 and the Educational Supplement for TAXI-005

As with all the TAXI series, the books represent a collaboration between the artist and the author, and Lien Botha�s art, with some poems by Karen Press incorporated into the illustrations, and Ashraf Jamal�s text produced a book which is "a delight to read and a joy to look at" - Chris Roper, Mail & Guardian November 8.
Ashraf Jamal also wrote the text for the Educational Supplement which promises to be very instructive for art teachers.
This was production was produced in Cape Town with the Editor, Karen Press, and the Designer, Welma Odendaal.

7. Best website (with small motivation why)

artthrob - filling a huge gap in the SA art scene and providing excellent commentary and reviews while fostering new talent in the fine arts as well as writing.

8. One to watch for 2003 (most promising new talent)

Wim Botha

9. Quote of the year (art specific please)

Sorry, can't oblige at the moment

David Krut is the the founder of David Krut Publishing in Johannesburg

1. Best Local Show

'Violence/Silence', curated by Greg Streak, Nieu-Bethesda and NSA Gallery, Durban

2. Other Highlights (Local or International)

Documenta 11, in Kassel, Germany
'Ciao Bella' by Tracey Rose at the Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
Jeremy Wafer's 'Survey' at the Sasol Art Museum, Stellenbosch
Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees

3. Biggest Disappointment

Vita withdrawing its funding for the Visual Arts

4. Best Review

None

5. Best Catalogue

Clean/Grime, a stylish and intriguing double bill complete with CD.

6. Best Art Book

Robert Hodgins by Tafelberg Publishers. Long overdue monograph with lots of great visuals and a diversity of voices engaging with his concerns. More than a good-looking coffee table book.

7. Best Website

None

8. One to watch for 2003

Colleen Alborough, a recent Wits graduate who creates intriguing and whimsical video installations.

9. Quote of the year

"What's that junk then?" A prospective art student at Durban Institute of Technology during an interview gesturing to a Francis Bacon print on the wall. The prospective student quickly followed this quip up by stating, " He can't be that famous if I haven't heard of him".

Statement by Virginia MacKenny:

"What about Art South Africa magazine? It was the best new art publishing event of the year. And what about the good news - lottery money finally reaches the arts with all sorts of interesting projects receiving funding. Also important to note is that last year we gave a raspberry to the Taxi series for being overpriced, and this year they dropped their prices on all their books, including the supplement, to a more accessible R150. At least they listen."

Virginia MacKenny is a contributing editor to ArtThrob, and is based in Durban.

1. Best Local Show

Jacques Coetzer at Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees, Oudtshoorn

2. Other Highlights (Local or International)

Jeremy Wafer's 'Survey' at the Sasol Art Museum, Stellenbosch
'Grime', a group show by Gauteng-based artists at Bell-Roberts, Cape Town (largely on the strength of Wim Botha's 'Black Madonna')
Claudette Schreuders at the AVA, Cape Town
Claudette Schreuders at Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees, Oudtshoorn

3. Biggest Disappointment

I'm reluctant to say it, but, like the Stone Roses' second album, it wasn't bad, we just expected better - Doreen Southwood at Bell-Roberts, Cape Town

4. Best Review

Nic Dawes' review of 'Video' at Michaelis. Aside from its obvious literary value and its unusually well informed theoretical backbone, the little fracas to which it gave rise was a much-welcomed shake-up. I must also add that amongst all the flapping it caused was my quote of the year #2, when I was described by the phrase 'He has nose'. I don't know what it means but I like it.

5. Best Catalogue

Brett Murray's Standard Bank catalogue, for its beautiful reproduction and the incredibly insightful essay by Ivor Powell, which sheds light on the depths below Murray's flashy pop sensibility and throwaway one-liners.

6. Best Art Book

Phaidon's 'New Perspectives on Painting'. It's the first time I've felt like painting since I graduated in 1991.

7. Best Website

www.harriscyclery.com: It's ugly as hell, has nothing to do with art but is extraordinarily informative and remarkably easy to navigate. It'll lead you to all sorts of sites by webmaster and bike aficionado Sheldon Brown who has to be one of the most eccentric folks around. You can read (and see pictures) of his vintage bicycle collection, Gilbert and Sullivan productions in which he has taken part as well as his extensive collection of hats. Sheldon responds religiously to all his emails too. If it has to be art-related, I'll go for www.illyboy.com, the home of an extraordinary illustrator.

8. One to watch for 2003

I haven't seen any recent work but I really hope to soon - Heath Nash.

9. Quote of the year

"Is it art?" - a certain gallery director, taking offence at a work in the gallery.

Paul Edmunds is a contributing editor to ArtThrob, and is based in Cape Town.

1. Best Local Show

'Violence/Silence', curated by Greg Streak, Nieu-Bethesda and NSA Gallery, Durban

2. Other Highlights (Local or International)

Penny Siopis' 'Pinky Pinky', at the Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
Matthew Barney's 'Cremaster Cycle', Musee de L'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France
Meneghelli Collection at the Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg
'Infra-Red' by Joni Brenner, Gertrude Posel Gallery, Johannesburg
'Corpa Delicata' by Leora Farber at The Premises, Johannesburg

3. Biggest Disappointment

The curatorial confusion of Cape Town's Month of Photography coupled with the general quality of work on the Absa Atelier and the Sasol New Signatures competitions - a celebration of mediocrity with some notable exceptions.

4. Best Review

Lauren Shantall writing on the Bell-Roberts website. Telling the digerati anti-style where to get off.

5. Best Catalogue

Not conventional exhibition catalogues, but catalogues of contemporary thought, the Palais de Tokyo publications on what practitioners expects from institutions in the 21st century and the state of the artist in the 21st century are fine documents. 'From the horse's mouth' opinions from artists, administrators, curators and those who work within the broader context of the contemporary art world. Simple design, easy to read, colloquial language rather than academic-speak and extremely reasonably priced, even with the state of the Rand.

6. Best Art Book

Robert Hodgins by Tafelberg Publishers. A comprehensive, if uninterestingly designed tome on possibly our greatest living painter, who at the age of 80-something, is starting to get the attention he deserves. Edited by Brenda Atkinson with respected contributors, it's lushly illustrated and an excellent document of a 50-year career that shows no signs of slowing down.

7. Best Website

www.google.com

8. One to watch for 2003

Matthew Hindley

9. Quote of the year

"...any artist can be a critic, any critic can be a curator, any museologist can be an artist and so on, which is plain nonsense and anyone can be an idiot." - Malcolm Payne opines on interdisciplinary practice in the big ArtThrob 'peer review' debate, March 2002

Kathryn Smith is a contributing editor to ArtThrob, and is based in Johannesburg.

1. Best Local Show

Gavin Jantjies on 'States of Emergence', at Warren Siebrits Modern and Contemporary Art, Johannesburg

2. Other Highlights (Local or International)

The Apartheid Museum's permanent exhibition, particularly Ernest Cole's photographs from his book the 'House of Bondage'. The museum has given these long neglected photographs a dignified forum.
Jane Alexander's 'African Adventure' at the Pretoria Art Museum
'Mostly Unseen' by David Goldblatt at the Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
Catherine Opie's remarkably prescient, pre-9/11 photographic studies of a depopulated Wall Street, at London's Stephen Friedman.
JHB Art City. From my balcony in Braamfontein, I can count three of the project's billboards. They have not only enriched my own meagre art collection, but also reclaimed the value of public space in a city centre that is slowly mothballing all those To Let signs.

3. Biggest Disappointment

Doreen Southwood at the Bell-Roberts. Having not seen her earlier shows, I was primed to expect more. (To her credit she skilfully managed to 'repair' the show. It is just a great pity that the errors had to be publicly seen before being rectified. There is probably a lesson in this for all of us.)

4. Best Review

John Matshikiza's 'Ignoring the tyranny of linear time'
http://www.vmcaa.nl/vm/magazine/columnarchive/column02001.htm

(I must also mention Hazel Friedman's inspired first paragraph to 'Exploding Heads', her review of Brett Murray in the launch issue of Art South Africa.)

5. Best Catalogue

blank_____Architecture, apartheid and after This book has eluded me for a couple of years now, so my joy was unrestrained the day when I finally got my hands on a copy. Hilton Judin and Ivan Vladislavic set an editorial benchmark that was not nearly been rivalled this year. Nonetheless, KKNK 2002's catalogue showed that a beautifully conceived cover has immense pulling power; Brett Murray's catalogue vindicated Mies van der Rohe's dictum "less is more"; and Retha Erasmus's hard work was finally validated with Clean/ Grime.

6. Best Art Book

Santu Mofokeng'. Despite some questionable selections and glaring omissions, the fourth in David Krut's Taxi series offers a visually intriguing insight into, what Sam Raditlhalo succinctly describes as, 'the mundane existence of township folk.' Despite the errors and idiosyncrasies that mar Mofokeng's own sizeable written contribution, the disarming honesty of his words often wins one over. I was particularly impressed by Mofokeng's concluding remarks, which - like his photographs - were brutally frank.

7. Best Website

Suffice it to say that my vested interests mean that I will nominate www.mg.co.za for their on-going arts coverage and www.salottery.co.za for supplying the necessary details on the not so infrequent occasions I "tata ma chance".

8. One to watch for 2003

Wim Botha, Conrad Botes internationally, Wits Tech

9. Quote of the year

"Art remains for the most part an elite pursuit - elites that are for the most part not even indigenous. African contemporary art risks following its legions of historical predecessors into the splendid silences of the diaspora." John Matshikiza

"There is enough parochialism in South Africa. This country is blessed with it. Sometimes we forget that there is a world beyond." Ntone Edjabe, editor Chimurenga

Sean O'Toole was recently appointed ArtThrob's new editor. He is based in Johannesburg.

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