International art mag highlights South Africa
South Africa is the country featured in the Aperto section of the most recent issue of Flash Art. Aperto is a section which highlights the art currently being shown in a particular city or region, and the writer of the piece is Thomas Boutoux, a young French art historian who recently spent some time in this country. Boutoux's assessment of the local art scene is sharp and to the point.
Once again pointing out the importance of the 1997 Johannesburg Biennale in the development of South African art, Boutoux continues, "Since the demise of the Johannesburg Biennial after its second edition in 1997, it should be noted that this kind of opportunity for global exposure has never resurfaced. South Africa may remain a dynamic stop-over on the international circuit - dozens of overseas curators arrive every year to select works for group shows or other biennials, but due to the scarcity of alternative exhibition spaces, the lack of support from the state, and the absence of a genuine and engaged public interest in artistic production, other modes of effectively constructing a local arts culture have not yet been found. To speak in terms of a South African art scene might thus be impossible; its elusiveness being somehow a consequence of the disparate and often concurrent strategies employed by artists to draw attention and get recognition from overseas. In this context, differences in artistic works and statements become salient: some may seem to be carried consciously or unconsciously along opportunistic lines, while others demonstrate antagonistic visions of the state of things.
Through their capacity to question the social and cultural discourses that surround them, these works, interventions, and projects manage also to convey the multiple components and contradictory aspirations, the promises and impasses, of the now 8-year-old "New South Africa".
Boutoux goes on to discuss the Insitute for Contemporary Art in Cape Town, brainchild of Thomas Mulcaire, and the work of a number of other artists including Usha Seejarim, Santu Mofokeng, James Webb, Tracy Lindner Gander and Vuyisa Nyamende.
For the full Flash Art text, go to