A feature on an artworld figure currently in the public eye.
Storm Janse van Rensburg
Trained as an artist, and still continuing to make video and digital artworks, particularly for theatre, curator Storm Janse van Rensburg was appointed director of the NSA Gallery in Durban in 1999. Since then, Van Rensburg has made his name for injecting an adrenaline shot into the moribund gallery. Attracting major funding, he has instituted new programmes like the Young Artists Project which is proving an important vehicle for exhibiting emerging artists not only from KwaZulu Natal but from the rest of Southern Africa.
Or in this month's Artbio - a curator's statement:
"The NSA Gallery is ideally situated as a showcase for contemporary art in the city of Durban and the larger arena of KwaZulu Natal. We work in an exceptional building and have a supportive audience that provides a great opportunity to present international, national and local shows.
"A lot of the past five years has been getting to the point where we are now: Funding has been secured for our programmes, and our projects are being recognised nationally. We have come to a place where it feels much more solid than before.
"Nonetheless, we are marginal in many respects, and geographically operate outside the Johannesburg - Cape Town trajectory. We therefore have to shout much louder, and make more noise, and cannot afford complacency. It is challenging, but I always maintain that the peripheries are often more interesting to operate in, and more importantly, from.
"Durban has always formed an integral slice of the South African artworld, and historically the NSA has been integral in brokering a visibility for KwaZulu Natal artists. However, it is as important for us to bring to Durban artists and exhibitions from elsewhere too, to provide a centre for circulation and exchange."
In April, Van Rensburg co-ordinated a two day seminar in Durban at which the four most recent artists of the Young Artists Project presented their work on the first day, and on the second, invited speakers addressed an open seminar entitled Back(s) to Africa: contemporary practice and our links with the continent.
The development of critical writing on art was the subject of an eight-day writing workshop at the NSA earlier this year conducted by Art South Africa editor Sean O'Toole. As curator, Van Rensburg has contributed to a number of Redeye Art events at the Durban Art Gallery in the past two years.
Van Rensburg is widely involved in other artistic enterprises in Durban and further afield, writing, adjudicating, sitting on the acquisitions committee of the Durban Art Gallery, on the steering committee of the Cultural Policy Project for the city of Durban initiated by the Department of Arts and Culture and the Flemish Government, and regional chairperson for the Visual Art Network of South Africa.
His own artistic work includes a video for The beautiful ones must be born 2005, part of a dance performance choreographed by Van Rensburg's life partner, Jay Pather at Constitutional Hill, Johannesburg, and in 2004, the video for Double U for the Jomba Dance Festival and various venues in the Netherlands.
Artists have already been selected for the next round of the Young Artists Project, which will kick off in June with the first solo exhibition by Dineo Bopape. Other artists participating in this cycle are Colleen Alborough, Bronwyn Lace and Peter van Heerden. Van Rensburg is also in the process of compiling 'Being Here', a group exhibition to celebrate the NSA Centenary with co-curators Bopape and Camilla Copley. In addition, he is a contributing curator to the African section (curated by Miguel Petchkovsky) of 'Prog:ME', the first electronic arts festival in Rio de Janeiro opening in July 2005.
And after that, the NSA Gallery will be hosting seminal shows later in the year, which include 'A Decade of Democracy: Witnessing South Africa' a travelling show of work of SA artists first exhibited in the USA, curated by Tumelo Mosaka, and a group exhibition by acclaimed SA artist Siemon Allen, showing with Kendall Buster (US) and Ledelle Moe, also once of Durban and now living in the USA.
Born Vryheid, KwaZulu Natal, 1972. Lives and works in Durban.
BA (Fine Arts) University of South Africa (1993-1995)
1999 - present Curator and Manager, Natal Society of Arts (NSA) Gallery, Durban
1996 -1999 - Assistant Curator, Rembrandt van Rijn Art Gallery, Market Theatre, Johannesburg
2005 - Back(s) to Africa: contemporary practice and our links with the continent, seminar convener and presenter, Young Artists Project 2005, Diakonia Centre and NSA Gallery, Durban
2004 - Recontextualising Durban: Experiments in making the world visible.
Young Artists Project Seminar, convener, coordinator and presenter, NSA Gallery, Durban
Selected group exhibitions (own work)
2003 - 'CityScapes', Video installation and collaboration with Jay Pather, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg
2002 - 'CityScapes', Video installation and collaboration for the final part of a public performance series directed by Jay Pather, presented at the Durban Art Gallery, Durban; 'ND-ID' (Redeye), One night Installation, Small Gallery, Durban Art Gallery, Durban
2001 - 'Story board', NSA Gallery, Durban
2000 - 'Vote Sheet', one night exhibition for Sheet Magazine,
Bat Centre, Durban
1999 - 'Dusty Closets', CARFAX, Newtown, Johannesbug
1998 - 'Histories of the Present', Wits University.
- 'Buttons,',Civic Theatre Gallery, Johannesburg
1997 - 'No. 4', Old Fort, Hillbrow Johannesburg
- 'A little BIG THING', exhibition of erotic minatures,
Thompson Gallery, Johannesburg
1995-1996 - 'Gay Rights Rites Re-Writes', Martin Melkhuis, Cape Town, Stegmann Gallery, Bloemfontein, Wits Gallery, Johannesburg
2005 - Video for The beautiful ones must be born, choreographed and dircted by Jay Pather, Constitutional Hill, Johannesbug
2004 - Video Image design for Double U, choreographed by Feri de Geus and Noortje Bijvoets (Netherlands) for Jomba Dance Festival and various venues, Netherlands
2003 - Set design, 'Home', chreographed by Jay Pather and commissioned by the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown
2002 - Video for 'Medea', choreographed by Jay Pather for Durban Institute of Technology Drama Department, Courtyard Theatre, Durban; Multimedia collaboration with choreogapher Llianne Loots for Flatfoot Dance Company season, The Square Space, University of Natal, Durban
2001 - Video for 'Tatamachance', a three way collaboration, choreographed by Jay Pather, FNB Dance Umbrella, Wits Theatre, Johannesburg; Set design, 'HighArt', choreographed and directed by Jay Pather, OMBA! Dance Festival, Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, Durban
2000 - Digital Visual Design, 'Laws of Recall' directed by Jay
Pather, JOMBA! 2000 Contemporary Dance Festival,
Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, Durban; Digital Visual Design, Closing ceremony, XIII International AIDS Conference, ICC, Durban
Other professional activities:
2004 - Acquisitions Committee, Durban Art Gallery, Durban
Redeye Committee, DurbanArt Gallery and iTrump, Durban
2003 - Interim Stering Committee Member for Cultural Policy Project for EThekwini Municipality, initiated by Department of Arts and Culture and Flemish Government; Selection committee member, TaXi Art Books Project; Steering committee member for Visual Art Network South Africa (VANSA) and regional (KZN) chairperson
2001 - Coordinator, Dogtroep Theatre Company (Netherlands) collaborative workshops, Durban
2000 - Advisor, PULSE Initiative in partnership with the Rijksakademie Intenational Network (RAIN).