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.
Subject: Babic takes on Europe
Date received: November 11
In Babic takes on Europe by Virginia MacKenny it says that Cis Bierickx is Dutch and a "she". Mr Cis Bierinckx is Belgian and a "he".
Thank you for pointing out the error.
From: Linda Stupart
Subject: Student artwork stolen
Date received: November 8
I took the image in a case of mistaken identity. You see it looked and seemed exactly like a cheesy nude photograph that I had taken and, apparently, left a trace of in the Michaelis network. I assumed, incorrectly, that it was mine. The matter has since been resolved, with the artist supplying a fitting reward for the return of his (?) image.
From: Lize van Robbroeck
Date received: November 5
Bravo to Veronique for pointing out that the emperor's 'new' clothes are worn somewhat thin! I have been feeling for some time now that conceptual art is rapidly becoming restrictive orthodoxy, somewhat in the line of Abstract Expressionism in the late 50s, and that artists feel compelled to turn to installations and conceptual exhibitions to warrant notice from the (international and national) art establishment. Don't get me wrong - I am well aware that we have some absolutely first class conceptualists here.
Alan Alborough's clean, lucid mind-mazes and Willem Boshoff's intelligent exploration of the subtle textures of textuality beat the pants off any international conceptualists that I can think of. What rankle are the endless installations that tickle the mind momentarily but leave the viewer feeling empty, drained and impoverished.
I want to weep when really good artists forfeit their m�tier for yet another fleeting, clever installation. I miss the earthiness, sensuality and tactility of Jeremy Wafer's earlier sculptures. I miss Penny Siopis' nauseous excess and glut. I miss diversity, I miss humour and poetry, and above all, I miss visual stimulation. I am also horrified at the glib and arrogant disregard for the majority of our population, who cannot possibly feel anything but baffled and diminished by the blatant and unapologetic elitism of most contemporary shows. Let them eat mindgames!
From: Mya Lion
Subject: Women artists
Date received: October 29
As a young professional artist I always stand back in aghast amazement when I see white and black males in the art world receive a great deal of support and trips overseas when I know that a lot of women are far, far better artists. It seems to me that some male artists are showing audacity not artistry and are often breastfed by adoring art critics still held in an unconscious ideal that men's art is better than women's art. I know I'm making a blanket statement but it makes me mad when I see male artists boozed up and playing the cockerel, even though their talents are moderate, thus seducing others with their egos and really, really talented women with powerful art sit back and say, 'Oh, my stuff isn't important'. When are we as women going to grow brass breasts and start expecting the same recognition that our fellow brothers have been receiving? While I'm up here on the soapbox, don't you all think it's time we as artists made really good money and stopped scrounging for scraps? If anyone out there knows how to make lots of money please let me know.
While I wouldn't claim that art-making will make many of us rich, it's certainly more viable to make some kind of a living out of it than it was even five years ago. On your first point, are you suggesting that women artists should be 'playing the cockerel' instead of men? I can't agree with you there, but I do agree that art-making in South Africa is to some extent dominated by men, but I will add that it probably is a field with more gender equity than most.
From: Ann-Marie Tully
Subject: Another exhibition of bad photographs
Date received: October 30
At the risk of being burnt at the stake of political correctness, I would like to ask the question: why is Nontsikelelo 'Lolo' Veleko having an exhibition at the JAG? Veleko was recently a nominee for the MTN New Contemporaries award. Without getting into the politics of inclusion (ja right) let me just say that Veleko's work stood out as unaccomplished and unrefined in the presence of the other artist's work on the show (Thando Mama, Alison Kearney, Matthew Hindley and Hannes Olivier).
The fact that she is now being feted at the Johannesburg Art Gallery with an exhibition of what appears to be the same unremarkable work is nothing short of astounding. Her photographs of graffiti, which she poetically muses, "paints a more secretive portrait of society" are unoriginal to say the least. How many more contemporary artists are going to jump on the graffiti wagon (or should I say skate board) of American artist Barry Mcgee (who can at least claim having been a bonifide anarchist and vandal). Last thought: how alluring is the promise of hip hop music, breakdancing, real graffiti performances, drinks and snacks on the opening night? Well, I think it's another case of 'what a lovely frame'.
From: Zayd Minty
Subject: October 15 editorial
Date received: October 30
Regarding the editorial on ArtThrob of October 2003, I had no idea Ed Young's piece was a "hoax" - or rather its the first time anyone in the arts sector has called it such in writing. I wonder what the responses of the artist or the curator are to this revelation.
I would stand by my choice of word, as on one level Ed Young's piece was an elaborately orchestrated hoax. Realising this by no means dilutes its impact. As Ivor Powell carefully pointed out in his review in Art South Africa, "What is important to understand here is that the "acquisition" [his emphasis] is merely one layer of possible significance within the work, and if the work is to continue to operate in the space of possibility and virtuality (which surely it must in order to continue to reverberate) then fact is the enemy." As Ed himself disclosed to me, his Bruce Gordon work shares something with Vuyisa Nyamende continuous red line (painted across the building facades of a couple of hundred metres of Long Street), and Nyamende's collaboration with Cameron Platter entitled Stolen Painting. "The idea was to use the media as a vehicle for artistic production and a platform for bringing art of an uncomfortable conceptual nature to the attention of the general public," he said. "These works aim at getting large amounts of press coverage as the main medium of the work." One cannot argue that he hasn't achieved this with consummate skill. Sean
From: Rupert England
Subject: Missed the show, missed the point
Date received: October 24
The following lengthy comment was received from Rupert England in PDF format. The document has been secured and its contents cannot be transferred. Download the PDF to read Rupert England's letter. It is a response to Sean O'Toole's review of the show 'art as usual', published in our October issue at www.artthrob.co.za/03oct/reviews/jag.html
What follows is Sean O'Toole response.
1. ArtThrob established a template for an informal, bi-weekly update of the 24.7 residency, which you can view at www.artthrob.co.za/03july/listings_gauteng_jag.html. It was left to the curator to supply further text updates, which he did not.
2. Margot Saffer, a participant on the 24.7 residency, provided a comprehensive review of the project's process-orientated workings in the September issue of ArtThrob, under the title 'Work in progress'. www.artthrob.co.za/03oct/reviews/jag.html
3. My review, 'Monkeys masquerading as guerrillas' was a review of the closing exhibition, which was titled 'art as usual'.
To linger any longer on this show would be to merit it with far more than it deserves. As to the tenor and scope of your lengthy diatribe, your elaborate unmasking of this Johnny-come-lately proved fascinating reading. In fact I immediately set about disguising my feet of clay. Your angry letter has however left me wondering about a few things, particularly the imprecision of words. This prompted me to ascertain the meaning of a few of these words, the definitions of which I quote for your edification.
artiste: a skilled public performer, especially a musical or theatrical entertainer - like a circus clown;
gorilla: an anthropoid ape of western equatorial Africa that is related to the chimpanzee but less upright and much larger;
guerrilla: a member of a small independent fighting force which engages in sabotage, unexpected assaults, etc. usually with a political objective;
proxy: a deputy authorised to act as a substitute for another;
renegade: a person who deserts and betrays an organisation, country, or set of principles.
From: Gillian Anstey
Subject: Brett Kebble Art Awards
Date received: October 15
Please note that an ArtThrob article incorrectly states that I wrote the piece in the Sunday Times about the Brett Kebble awards. It was in fact, and this was stated in the article, written by Bonny Schoonakker from our Cape Town office. Could you please correct this?
Your article is: www.artthrob.co.za/03oct/news/brettkebble3.html
Ours is the second piece in: www.sundaytimes.co.za/2003/10/05/arts/ane03.asp
"JUST as well no one was taking any bets at the inaugural Brett Kebble Art Awards this week - shrewd punters knew in advance that sculptor Doreen Southwood would be the night's big winner, says my colleague Bonny Schoonakker."
Gillian, we wish to apologise for this erratum. Sean
From: Pete Probst
Subject: Peter Clarke
Date received: October 10
I was interested to read your "bio" on Peter Clarke the South African artist/writer. My father knew Peter in the early 1950s and bought a number of his early watercolours. In 2002 I visited Peter in Ocean View; fascinating work he does. We purchased some work from him and also he showed us around Simonstown where I was born. Thanks.
From: Kathryn M. Hegarty
Subject: Thank you
Date received: October 3
I'd like to say THANK YOU for your magazine. I am an avid reader and I very much appreciate being able to sit down with a magazine and read it as I would a book with stimulating and funny issues. So, thank you, for making a magazine that makes people think about things, instead of being told that one way is better than another.