Archive: Issue No. 87, November 2004

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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.

From: Michael Smith
Received: October 15
Subject: Ed Young

Thank you for being a constant presence on the SA art scene. Your publication serves as an invaluable resource for myself and my students. Online mags such as yours help close the gap between exhibitions appearing and sage, virtually omniscient critics like yourselves ruminating on their subtleties.

My feedback concerns the letter submitted by Ed Young bludgeoning the inaccuracies of Melvin Minnaar and Guy Willoughby. While not wishing to express any support for Young's second-rate, fifth generation conceptualism, one's gotta concede that the tyke's got a point. Journalistic indolence that results in incorrect dates and factual errors being passed off as fact reveals an inability by the journalists concerned to take contemporary art and, in turn, their pivotal role as critics, sufficiently seriously. The job of the critic is undoubtedly to come off as petulant and difficult to please, but heaven help the dumb mf who leaves the backdoor open for a well-founded rebut.

What is interesting to witness in Young, though, is the emergence of a Geers-esque self-styled Art Bad Boy: it's all G 'n' T swigging and victimisation at the sullied hands of a misunderstanding public in Young's universe, as evidenced by his statement, '[Willoughby's] writing was informed... by others bitching about the latest Ed Young piece'. The implication here, for those not well-versed in the nuances of the standard-issue suburban Messiah complex, is that Ed Young's pieces are frequently, even pathologically, misconsumed by a thankless populace with little or no prior knowledge of the otherworldliness of Conceptual Art: interesting, when Young himself alludes to the fact that both Duchamp and his kindred spirits, the Conceptualists, are available in SA's high school art syllabi.

Anyway, at least we can look forward to an artist with some chutzpah willing to lock horns with alleged critical heavyweights to defend his turf.

Thanks, and thanks again. You realise, of course, that Ed will just turn this into more grist for his tireless mill.

From: J'amir
Subject: Art galleries
Received: October 15

I have recently returned to Cape Town after being out and about for many years. I do animal portraits in pen and ink and was wondering how I go about having an exhibition in Cape Town. I have found out if you don't have a 'name' no one is interested, until you have a showing, but to have a showing, you have to have a 'name'. Any help you can give on this catch 22 situation would be most appreciated.

Most galleries I have encountered employ a simple submission system whereby your work, or reproductions thereof, are put before the gallerist or a committee from whence a decision is made about the nature and quality of your work in relation to the position of the gallery. I suggest you contact the AVA