Tuesday, January 7, 2003
RoseLee Goldberg, dancer, Artforum art critic and author of the seminal book Performance Art: fromFuturism to the Present is on holiday near Cape Town, and we meet to look at Zwelethu Mthethwa's exhibition 'Coloured/Col.ored' at the AVA Unfortunately the show has come down, but AVA director Estelle Jacobs takes us across the street to the artist's studio (he is on holiday in Durban) where box upon box of brilliantly hued thick pastels lie open on tables, and works finished and unfinished lie against the wall. His exhibition has been extremely successful, and a number of the works on the show will not be coming back. I had wanted RoseLee to meet Bernie Searle, but time is short, and RoseLee also wants to listen to the Handspring Puppet maestros Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler discuss their practice at their exhibition 'Episodes' at the SANG.
Adrian Kohler moves from one puppet group to the other, giving anecdotes and histories of the puppets, best known for their participation in the theatrical collaborations with William Kentridge. Originally, puppet maker Kohler made his puppets using paper layered over polystyrene to form the figures, while aspiring to a more expressionistic finish. Working with Kentridge offered a new direction.Kohler asked Kentridge how he thought Kohler could achieve an effect for the puppets which would parallel the rough charcoal drawings of Kentridge's characters. "It's easy," said Kentridge, pre-Nike. "Just do it." Now Kohler makes his puppets of wood, carved with rough gouges, then split open and hollowed out from the inside to a thickness of 4 mm, so they are not too heavy for the puppeteers to handle. The group from the first Handspring/Kentridge production, Woyzeck on the Highveld have been bought by a German art museum, so they are missing from this impressive display.
Wednesday, January 8
Every Christmas season, South African art teachers Rose Zakinfosky and Claire Gavronsky migrate south from their art school near Florence in Italy, bringing with them a flock of international studenti, for a spell in Cape Town. The idea is for the students of the Cultural Exchange Workshop to meet local artists, while working hard themselves, and as a first project, before they even arrive or meet each other, working by email, they must put together a portfolio representing them all which will be shown to the artists and others they visit. This morning it is my turn to conduct a studio visit. After a discussion of my work, I study the portfolio to see what this diverse group of students is up. It's on the web at www.sabook.info. The last few years have seen a very marked increase in the number of visiting artists from all over the world, drawn by the energy and beauty of the city, and these cross influences are all to the good.