Archive: Issue No. 89, January 2005

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Sue Williamson's roundup of 2004

Dominant theme of art shows in 2004

Decade of Democracy

Phrase most people had had more than enough of by mid-February

Decade of Democracy

Best D of D survey shows

'Decade of Democracy' at the South African National Gallery
'Democracy X' at the Cape Town Castle

Best overseas show (judging by the catalogue)

'Personal Affects: Power and Poetics in Contemporary South African Art' at the Museum for African Art and St John the Divine Cathedral, New York

Highest marks for big exhibition presentation (lighting, dry walling, technical equipment, etc):

Brett Kebble Art Awards at the Cape Town International Convention Centre - the most professionally mounted show this town has seen.

Lowest marks for big exhibition presentation

The Dakar Biennale, where artists were handed their video projectors only after the opening day proceedings were already in progress, the worst paintings on the show were prominently displayed at the entrance to the exhibition, and on the upper level, grubby carpets marred the appearance of fine work.

'Africa Remix 'at the Dusseldorf Kunstpaleis, where work was badly crowded in some area, with, for example, David Goldblatt's unframed prints pinned to the wall level with each tread of the makeshift staircase leading to the crude wooden platform supported by scaffolding which served as the mezzanine level.

Most popular show

Although other attendance figures have not been released, the winner has to be the Brett Kebble Art Awards with 13 000 visitors in eight days in October.

Show with the most red stickers on opening night:

Zwelethu Mthethwa (pastels and photographs) and Willie Bester's (paintings and sculptures) two person exhibition at the Association of Visual Arts, Cape Town (December).

Shows which generated most controversy:

Ed Young's 'Asshole' at the Bell Roberts Gallery (January) at which exotic dancers in tiny denim shorts bared their breasts for the audience.

Andrew Lamprecht's 'Flip' at the Michaelis Collection, on which Dutch old master paintings were turned face to the wall so they bared their backs to the audience.

Most disappointing show

'Visions of Paradise' at João Ferreira. How could a show with artists like Kendell Geers and Candice Breitz and a string of Swiss artists be so badly staged as to be dead boring? This one managed it.

Show I am most looking forward to seeing in Cape Town

Kathryn Smith's Standard Bank Young Artist show

Most promising artist to return to South Africa this year

Cape Town artist Mustafa Maluka, who has been studying and working in Holland for the past four years.

Artist overseas generating most interesting publicity

Berlin based performance artist Robin Rhode, who has been making waves at New York's New Museum, amongst other venues.

Most exciting video by a young artist

Churchill Madikida's video Struggle of the Heart shown at Michael Stevenson Contemporary, in which the artist, face daubed white, stuffs mielie meal porridge into his mouth in a painfully endless attempt to satisfy hunger.

Cleanest show of the year

Katherine Bull's 'Data' at João Ferreira in which the artist uses classic drawing techniques to digitally build up miniature portraits shown as a tiny coloured image on a pristine white surface.

Most powerful photographic show of the year

Guy Tillim's photographs at Michael Stevenson Contemporary, which juxtaposed images from the Democratic Republic of the Congo with images taken in Brussels, erstwhile colonial masters of the region.

Most annoying remarks of the year

Beezy Bailey at the opening of New Identities: Contemporary Art from South Africa, at the Museum Bochum (July), during an opening night performance in which Samson Mudzunga has been pushed around the gallery, drumming inside his drum. Pretending to explain to the audience why Mudzunga was still inside the drum, Bailey said, 'He's rather shy'. To Mudzunga, opening the door of the drum, 'You can come out now, Samson.'

Most applauded statement of the year

Minister of Arts and Culture Pallo Jordan to the board of the National Arts Council: 'You're all fired!'

Best thing about 2005

Moving on from the Decade of Democracy into wonderfully uncharted territory