Two open letters to the visual art community (in its widest possible sense) are set to stir debate this month.
In an open letter addressed to Pallo Jordan, recently appointed Minister of Arts and Culture, Mario Pissarra states, "the visual arts have fared worse than other art forms in the transformation process". He points an accusatory finger at certain key public institutions. Meanwhile, Rasheed Araeen, the Founding Editor of the critical journal Third Text, calls for a reappraisal of Ernest Mancoba's achievements, not only by South African art historians but "all those - African or not - who seek truth". Ostensibly concerned only with Africa's contribution to modernism in the visual arts, Araeen however prefaces his remarks on Mancoba by asking some pertinent questions.
"Why should the West do what should and must be done by African themselves?" he asks. "Are Africans... not wasting their creative resources in what has now become a facile discourse of complaints and rhetoric against the West?"
NB: Last month's editorial note insufficiently sited the details of Arthur Nortje's fine poem, 'Discovery', which was first published in New Coin in March 1965.
Next update: July 3
Rapper Waddy Jones is holding his first art exhibition, at Bell-Roberts; Lawrence van Niekerk, John Murray and Peter Eastman are at Michael Stevenson; Andrew Lamprecht curates a show at the AVA that features mainly Cape Town-based artists whose work "addresses the aesthetics, production methods and representational and theoretical issues that international contemporary practice is looking at"; Lien Botha's 'Groot Inkleurboek' is at Photographers Gallery ZA; and Julia Rosa Clark's 'A Million Billion Gazillion' opens at João Ferreira.
Art on Paper present a tribute to Dan Rakgoathe, who died on April 18, 2004; Cheryl Gage at Rau Art Gallery; PhotoZA presents 'Plaas' by Pieter Badenhorst; The Fatherhood Project is on at the Bensusan; Fiona Manicom is at Zuva; Gallery Momo presents Conrad Botes; Willem Boshoff is still on at the Goodman Gallery, followed by Malcolm Payne, whose 'Illuminated Manuscripts' is an innovative body of works that animate commonplace African and Western objects of material culture.
'A Place Called Home' is an exhibition of photographic, print, video, web-based and installation works by artists of Indian/ South Asian descent, curated by Zayd Minty, at the NSA Gallery; Sean Laurenz and Heleen Verwey show at artSpacedurban; and Siphiwe Zulu's 'Human Rights: Hopes and Dreams' is at the African Art Centre.
Jo O'Connor presents a new installation work in Berlin; Mandy Lee Jandrell is at the Whitechapel Gallery, as well as on a group show south of the Thames; the Van Den Endes show 57 South African artists in their collection, in Holland; Marlene Dumas and Antjie Krog are also in Holland; Hentie van der Merwe appears in neighbouring Germany, on a group show in Cologne; while Frances Goodman and Robin Rhode both appear on separate shows in the United States.
Western Cape: Guy Tillim's new work traces the colonial occupation of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by Belgium's King Leopold II and vestiges of Mobutu Sese Seko's more recent rule. Kim Gurney remarks on their introspective quality, and also reports on Nicola Grobler's motley collection of household appliances appearing in a compelling installation at Erdmann Contemporary. Despite its didactic undertones, Julia Rosa Clark hails the show 'Democracy X' as "an absorbing and successful display of cultural and political history".
Gauteng: Willem Boshoff's 'Nonplussed' at the Goodman Gallery is a conceptual and linguistic gesture embracing the world's schisms wittily and bitterly.
KwaZulu Natal: Carol-anne Gainer's exhibition 'Pale' interrogates issues of white identity, writes Thando Mama.
International: Santu Mofokeng's 'Chasing Shadows' series was recently on show in New York. Bronwyn Law-Viljoen marvels at the collective reclaiming of space that has nothing to do with the constitutional redistribution of land currently underway. Following her visit to this year's Dakar Biennale, Iolanda Pensa wonders whether it is not time for the Biennale to forgo the need for an artistic director and rather commit itself more to art and artists.
Books: 'Moving in Time and Space' is a recently published book that chronicles the shifts in South African post-war art between the abstract and the representational.
A Doctor of Literature honoris causa was recently conferred upon Willliam Kentridge by his alma mater, the University of the Witwatersrand; Brett Kebble's art patronage has been recognised with an award; 'The Fatherhood Project' is an all encompassing effort to break negative stereotypes conventionally associated with males particularly in South Africa, and reframe men as caregivers; David Krut Publishing launches the important new publication Through the Looking Glass, a look at self-reflections by women artists; we discuss the CAPE/ Africa Platform; Art South Africa is recognised with two prestigious awards; Clive Kellner is the newly appointed Director of the Johannesburg Art Gallery; Andrew Lamprecht recalls his journey with Ed Young and Cameron Platter to Durban; and ArtThrob approached a number of photographers asking them to reveal which of their contemporaries (or peers) they admired. We published some of their responses.
Obituaries: Colin Richards recalls the life and times of Durant Sihlali, while Kresta Tyler Johnson remembers artist George Msimang, both of whom died recently.
Open letters: In his letter, Mario Pissarra asks Pallo Jordan, the new Minister of Arts and Culture, some directed questions; while Rasheed Araeen, Founding Editor of the critical journal Third Text, pens an open letter to Africa. Araeen asks, "Why should the West do what should and must be done by African themselves?"
What motivates curators and art buyers to purchase artworks? This simple question is the premise for Gallery Choice, a monthly feature that aims to reveal who (public museums/corporate collections) is buying what (artist), and why.
Gordon Froud recently took over the Thompson Gallery, in the Johannesburg suburb of Melville. He discusses Guy du Toit's sculpture, They all look the same to me, hey.
Sue Williamson comments on her recent trip to Dakar, Senegal.
At the 2004 Dakar Bienalle, Thando Mama was awarded the Prix de la Communité Fran�aise de Belgique, awarded by the Belgium community. It marks a remarkable journey for an artist first introduced to video in 2000. Gabi Ngcobo makes sense of his grainy black and white aesthetic.
Carine Zaayman points out a site "telling the truth about George Bush".
Ars Electronica recently awarded 'creative commons' its highest accolade, namely a Golden Nica. Carine Zaayman explains why it was deservedly given.
A section devoted to calls for submissions and proposals; invitations to participate; studios to let; art auctions and charity benefits. This update: ArtThrob is looking to appoint a new Editor-in-chief.
A forum to discuss the issues of the day.
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Penny Siopis is the latest artist to join our Editions for ArtThrob programme. Her work 'Cultivate Love' was produced in collaboration with Randy Hemminghaus, master printer from New York's Galamander Press, and is a distillation of her most recent work, from her Shame series.
Available now: outstanding prints by William Kentridge, Robert Hodgins, Zwelethu Mthethwa, Hentie van der Merwe, and Tracey Rose.
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