Archive: Issue No. 76, December 2003

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Feedback is an open forum for readers to share any comments and insights relevant to art practice in South Africa. We reserve the right to edit all submissions.

From: Nathaniel Stern
Subject: New media is second class
Date received: December 04

Did you forget us peops, or have they discontinued that category (the ArtThrob article on BKAA2 says five categories get 60Gs- and names them - leaving out the sixth of new media)?

From: Pitso Chinzima
Subject: Response to Ann-Marie Tully
Date received: November 27

This is written in response to Ann-Marie Tully's feedback comment titled 'Another Exhibition of Bad Photographs', dated October 30. I must say I have tried very much to avoid responding to this article for two reasons: My being in Germany at the time of Veleko's exhibition, and my being bound by council codes of conduct regarding how staff should deal with the media. I would like to mention that I am responding in my personal capacity and not as an agent of the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG).

It is an historical truism that the JAG has for years been an agent of racial cultural output that is colour-based, and that truism need not be repeated because it is shameful. This is the truism that other people are continuously ready to live and die for and I feel obliged to say that you fall into that category without a doubt. This truism is well reflected by what JAG is continuously showing in its permanent contemporary art collection spaces, let alone the current collecting tendencies. Black artists have for years at JAG, and other similar institutions, been relegated to nothing but a Neglected Tradition.

You start your article on a wrong footing by asking 'Why is Nontsikelelo Veleko having an exhibition at JAG?'. This is nothing but an act of utter apathy that has its roots in our country's history of separate development tendencies which, in my opinion, still exists. Maybe you should ask: Why was an exhibition, in which you participated, called 'White' shown at JAG? My question to you is: Where is Lolo Veleko supposed to show her work? Are you only expecting her to show at JAG in the same vein as artists such as the late Gladys Mgudlandlu and Bonnie Ntshalintshali? Does the fact that she is black, arrogant and gutsy disqualify her from showing at JAG? Let me assure you: we have long passed that era. Please be compliant.

If I had to respond to your article as a JAG agent I would say that Veleko's proposal to have a solo exhibition at JAG came long before you even knew who Lolo Veleko was. I am glad that now you know who she is. As a JAG agent again I will add that her proposal came to JAG long before she was even nominated for the MTN award. Maybe if she had shown her work at JAG before the MTN award she would have won the award outright. I am not sure about your response to Veleko's work. I would also like to make it clear that it is unfortunate that when a black artist like Veleko shows her body of work in public, she is looked at in the context of other artists like those mentioned in your article.

Let me remind you that Veleko is an artist in her own right. Her voice does not rest in mob psychologies. She is capable of talking for herself and by herself. You continue to say Veleko is fêted by JAG. You seem to be downplaying the truism that you were once fêted by JAG by showing in one of our prime spaces (another truism, hey?). I am not sure if you really know the reason for having the X-GALLERY in which Veleko showed her body of work. If not, please go there and read one of the panels on the wall and maybe that will help you to stop being lazy in your research but quick to respond. Good Luck Ann.

From: Brenden Gray
Subject: Rupert England's response to Sean O'Toole's review of 'Art as Usual'
Date received: November 20

I am always amazed at how criticism is taken by so many curators, artists etc. Communication between critic and the curator/ artist etc. is often marked by offensiveness, indignation etc. I suppose it emerges from how criticism itself is framed by both the critic and the subject of criticism. The frame assumes that there are correct ways to interpret and critique art. This 'you are wrong', 'I am right' attitude is entirely unfruitful in its attempt to reduce art to singular, impermeable, fixed interpretations.

I suppose it is about the compression of space and time in a capitalist society. There is no time (is money) for web editors to wade through dialogue and time (is money) for readers that want one- liners that sort of keep them on track with the art scene. The result is this kind of shallow to-and-fro which quickly degenerates into argument rather than dialogue.

Some questions have been raised though - Why did 'Art as Usual' display evidence if the process was so important? How many people have the time and money to follow this elaborate process project? The ideal viewer of an exhibition of evidence such as this would have to follow the whole process from start to end. Does this ideal viewer exist?

From: Greco Whitehead
Subject: Hilary Graham
Date received: November 23

I recently saw a Hilary Graham painting I like and would like to source one artist for my collection. I can, however, not find much info on the artist and no paintings seem to be available. Please direct me to someone (or website) that can assist me with my search. Also, have you any idea what a good-sized Hilary Graham oil will go for these days?

Thanks for your help,