Launch of the new Wits School of Arts
After a number of years in the planning and execution, the new University of the Witwatersrand School of Arts (WSOA) launched on Friday, October 10. The school combines, under one roof, fine art, music, dramatic art, history of art, television and film studies and heritage and tourism studies. Headed by Professor David Bunn, the WSOA is gearing itself for the creative possibilities that arise through interdisciplinary practice.
The new school is housed in the university's old Dental Hospital and forms the first phase of the cultural precinct. Planned as the university's interface with the city, the school is located within the heart of the cultural arc, an urban regeneration project stretching from Constitution Hill through Wits to Newtown.
The launch event, co-ordinated by Hanli Becker, spanned 12 hours and 15 venues. Live music and theatre productions gave the day a festival air. The key fine art exhibition was the solo show by Penny Siopis titled 'Shame', destined for Athens in November. Installed in the Convent Gallery, a multitude of small-scale paintings wend their way along the walls, around a central installation. Siopis has masterfully delved into the state of shame in personal and national histories.
Simon Gush, a fourth year student in Fine Arts, curated '20:20 - Mapping Trajectories'. The simple concept, to map changes and similarities within the experience of past and current students at Wits, was rendered interestingly complex by Gush's selection, pairing works by, amongst others, William Kentridge, Jane Alexander, Joachim Schonfeld, Karel Nel and Alan Alborough with student works. Each pair of works is accompanied by a commissioned critical text, installed as part of the show in the University Corner Gallery.
New-media artist Nathaniel Stern installed 'stuttering[odys]' in the Sub-station. An interactive audio-visual installation recently shown at the Johannesburg Art Gallery, the work allows one to make visual and audio poetry through physical interaction with Stern's electronic gear.
Another highlight was the multiple body suspension work by Eddie Graham, exploring notions of pain in art. The opening ceremony concluded with a fire sculpture by Clive van den Berg.
For further information, visit www.wits.ac.za/artworks