Archive: Issue No. 76, December 2003

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Minnette Vari

Minnette Vari

Brenton Maart

A section of one of Brenton Maart's "wild boys" photographic grids

Penny Siopis

Penny Siopis

Colin Richards

Colin Richards' book piece

Vastrap Flycatcher

Spot the artist/critic/film producer/lawyer in the Vastrap Flycatcher group


Thursday, December 4

Here to meet artists and do preliminary research for a new exhibition to be held at the Museum for African Art in New York for 2005, curator Laurie Farrell has been in town for the last few days. Today is Laurie's last day, and we enjoy a farewell lunch with Johannesburg gallerist Warren Siebrits, and photographer Abrie Fourie at Wakame, a Mouille Point beach side restaurant. Dash back to Tracy Gander's studio to get her help on laying out a catalogue page spread for the Karin Frei curated show, 'Paradise' next March. Somehow forget it is the opening of Minnette Vári's show at the Bell Roberts tonight, to which I have been looking forward all week, and go home.

Friday, December 5

Phone Minnette and apologise. Arrange to meet for breakfast tomorrow.

Saturday, December 6

After fruit salad and muesli in Camps Bay, go with Minnette to the Bell Roberts where she will give a walkabout. The group assembled in the gallery is small, but it is Andrew Lamprecht, Ed Young, and others who are really interested in hearing artists talk about their work. Minnette is showing three elongated black and white photographs in the Sentinal series, and a new double channel video, The Calling, which I will review for this issue. Minnette talks about the layers of intention behind the work and the experiences that grew out of being in the downtown Johannesburg streets at 4.30 a.m. in the morning, trying to explain what she was doing to curious onlookers. The current issue of Art South Africa carries an in-depth interview with Minnette by John Peffer on her project.

Brenton Maart's photo documentary work around his sexual adventures in Johannesburg opens tonight at Bell Roberts Photographic, "Such wild, wild boys" says Maart, laughing, Maart has moved between the absolutely specific and the unidentifiable with this body of work. There are two grids of images, random photographs which link landscapes with amorous and sexually aroused boys having fun. There are some large extreme closeups in delicate flesh tones so soft focus as to be ambiguous. And there is a grid of a four colour dot process image which Maart says is an image from a 70's porn magazine, but could be anything.

Hear later that some potential viewers who arrived at 6 p.m, the advertised opening time, found everything still locked, and after waiting ten minutes, left. Summer malaise is creeping in. Everything is slowing down for the silly season.

Monday , December 8

Johannesburg artists Penny Siopis and Colin Richards arrive to stay for a few days. They are both on a show entitled 'Literally and Figuratively: text and image in South African art', which opens at the Michael Stevenson on Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 9

Amherst researcher Zach Yorke comes up to the studio. He is writing an art timeline for a new book on South African artists to be edited by Sophie Perryer and published by Struik next year. His questions are not only what significant events happened when, but what were the triggerpoints that led to shifts in thinking? I continue to think about this for several days.

Later in this day Penny and I are driving through Woodstock when Penny spots a row of old cinema chairs outside a junk shop. We're in heavy rush hour traffic, but ten minutes later, Penny has negotiated to buy three rows of three, as part of her installation for the third in the edition of My Lovely Day, the video she made for the second Johannesburg Biennale. Home movie footage from her childhood tracks her Greek family's integration into South Africa.

Wednesday, December 10

The opening of the Michael Stevenson text and image show. Penny is showing a selection of her 'Shame' series, small paintings mainly in flesh or blood red which investigate abuse. Colin has made a piece in the form of an open book onto which he has pasted words which gain their context and significance through his choices, Also up are new pieces by the wickedly adept master ceramicist Hylton Nel, dozens of plates adorned with his quirky drawings and texts.

Thursday, December 11

Linda Givon phones. The Goodman Gallery was the only South African gallery to be represented at Art Basel in Miami, the second year the art fair has been held there, and already considered the most important art fair on the American calendar. The work of more than 1000 artists are shown on the stands of 175 international galleries. Apparently the Goodman was extremely successful. The Goodman Gallery stand was voted one of the top ten best presentations, and the page in the catalogue given to the Goodman, which featured a photograph from Tracey Rose's Lucie's Fur series, was voted the best catalogue page.

Saturday, December 13

The annual Mother City Queer Project party, with this year's theme, Kitchen Kitsch. We are going as a version of those sticky flypapers which used to hang in farm kitchens. Probably still do. Yellow trademarked T-shirts, dying fly makeup, photocopied flies liberally attached to clothing. Everyone has to go to this party in costume, and as part of a group. Ahead of us in the waiting line are the cockroaches with dark brown carapaces of corrugated cardboard. Seems appropriate that we should follow them. Loads of naked chefs, of course, hot cross buns, unmentionable vegetables and weird sandwiches. Hosts Andre and Hayden are white teapots with massive spouts.

Monday, December 15

In this final entry for the year, I wish you all a merry Christmas and an excellent New Year. Make your New Year's resolution to support this website, add to your art collection and immeasurably enrich your life by buying at least one print from the Editions for ArtThrob series in 2004.