Archive: Issue No. 71, July 2003

Go to the current edition for SA art News, Reviews & Listings.

El Anatsui

El Anatsui

Sue Williamson

Sue Williamson
Better Lives (detail), 2003
Film transferred to DVD
Installation view, Bozar

Pascale Marthine Tayou

Pascale Marthine Tayou

Wednesday, June 17

Reluctantly leave the Hotel Everland in Burgdorf, Switzerland and take the train to Brussels. Check in at the hotel, then head for the Palais de Beaux Arts - Bozar, as its new popular name is - to see how the installation of my piece Better Livesis going. Very little seems up on the walls at Bozar, and there are only two days left before the opening of 'Transferts', the major art initiative of the Belgian Africalia project. Under the curatorship of Toma Muteba Lutumbue, eighteen artists will be showing. Right now, plans are three days behind schedule. This is standard for exhibitions, the installation teams will have to work through the night until everything is done, but my space is dry-walled and ready for installation, looking good.

On the wall next to my space is a stunning piece by El Anatsui of Nigeria, looking like the cloak of a king, fabricated from hundreds of strips of coloured metal, which on close inspection turn out to be the flattened bases of screw tops taken from whisky and other alcohol bottles.

Thursday, June 18

Test the projections today. There are three, portraits, much bigger on the walls than I had visualised, but I think they look just fine. The overhead directional speakers will be installed tomorrow.

Lisa Brice is opening a solo show at Camouflage tomorrow night, so in the evening, Godfried Donkor, El Anatsui and I go over there to see how she is getting on. Lisa is battling a bit with the large screens of Staying Alive (see international listings) and worrying obsessively about tiny dirty marks on the padded white vinyl surfaces, but I am sure that by tomorrow night everything will be perfect. Founder of the gallery Fernando Alvim is in town, for once, and we sit around eating pizza and drinking wine till late.

Friday, June 19

The overhead speakers were hung in my space today. A slight problem is that because the projections are so big, the speakers have to be hung quite high, so as not to be in the way of the projected images, so a certain amount of the intimacy I had imagined has had to be sacrificed for greater visual effect. I had asked for museum style banquettes to be placed under each speaker, preferably in red, and installation director Erwin de Muer now produces six, especially made by a Belgian furniture designer. Perfect! Now visitors will be able to sit under each speaker and isolate the sound track of each portrait.

Lisa's opening, well attended by many of the artists from 'Transferts' and other local residents like Kendell Geers. There is a lot of interest in the Staying Alive installation, and people wander from one screen to the next, examining the details of the tiny portrait buttons which hold down the padding.

Saturday, June 20

'Transferts' opens. Not everything is yet completed, but overall, the show looks strong. In one long gallery, an installation by Pascale Marthine Tayou is a construction from which all the flags of Africa hang, blown by electric fans at one end. Under this sky of flags, the artist has placed chairs in irregular groupings, where people can sit and relax a bit. A small territory of Africa in Brussels.

Sadly, Minnette Vari's piece, which I had really been looking forward to seeing, has not been completed by the installation team. Minnette had requested a space with windows overlooking the city, but since she was showing a video projection, those windows had to be darkened with shade film, and one layer of film was not dark enough to allow the video to be shown.

In my space, with all the people and noise, the sound is a bit soft. I'll have to adjust it tomorrow. Following the official addresses and speeches, there is a party in Bili Bidjocka's studio, a wonderful affair, with mounds of delicious Moroccan food and great music.

Sunday, June 21

After a day in the country at the cabin of artist Johan Muyle and his wife Helene, go back to Bozar to check the sound levels of my piece again, and take final photographs. Tomorrow we leave for London, on the last leg of the trip.

Tuesday, June 23

I'm staying with Lisa Brice � after all the art world activity, its fun to just talk, eat amazing sushi, have a turkish bath in Ironmongers Row.

Wednesday, June 24

Must do some work today. A meeting at South Africa House with Lorna de Smidt about an artwork to be done on a glass screen on the mezzanine floor . This project has been going on a long time, but now the idea is for it to be finished by September. I will start on it as soon as I get back to my studio in Cape Town.


Sue Williamson goes to the 50th Venice Biennale

Sue Williamson is off to Venice

Sue Williamson's show opens in Brussels

Brussels: 'Selected Works', David Goldblatt, and Kendell Geers

Attending some openings and packing up work for Brussels

Reports on the new Constitutional Court, CT's Art Night, the WCape launch of VANSA and 'Bruce Gordon', the exhibition

Jeff Koons lecture and visit from New York's New Museum

Sue Williamson arts it up in Oz

Deadline woes beset Sue Williamson as she negotiates with two translators to finalise her new catalogue - and prepares to go to Australia. Phew!

A visit by Fernando Alvim, Art Basel in Miami and a planned trip to Australia

Gallery hopping with RoseLee Goldberg and talking to students