'I couldn't help thinking that if anyone wanted to wipe out all the major personas of the Johannesburg art world, present and slightly past, all you'd have to do is unleash some terrorist-type action on the JAG on the evening of Sunday May 1, 2005.' So writes Kathryn Smith in her reflective report on the impact of the performance of international art star Marina Abromovic at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. It wasn't only Abromovic and fellow artist Paolo Canevari who earned press coverage - organiser and opening speaker Kendell Geers earned the scorn and indignation of the local press by daring to suggest that local artists were getting 'worse and worse', 'festering under a rock' and 'culturally isolated'.
Is this true? Well, there are times when one struggles to recommend a single current show to a visiting art person, and South Africa often does seem on a periphery too far for many curators to venture, even by email. Nonetheless, the situation could be worse.
In Europe, as the high season for contemporary art shifts into top gear with the opening of the Venice Biennale on June 12, (read Andrew Lamprecht's preview in NEWS) followed in short order by the Prague Biennale, Art Basel and Liste in Switzerland, and other events across Europe, there is a good sprinkling of artists from South Africa to be seen at most events.
Closer to home, in the first of a two part focus, ArtThrob takes a look at the art scene in KwaZulu Natal.
Next update: Friday 1 July
Current holder of the Tollman prize for a young artist, Mustafa Maluka has his first solo show in this country at Michael Stevenson Contemporary, after six years studying and working in Europe. Conrad Botes, he of Bitterkomix fame, shows his latest work, entitled 'Devils Bullets' at Erdmann Contemporary, and at the AVA, Ed Young's piece on the Andrew Lamprecht-curated show of prints, comments 'You must be fucking desperate to be on this crap show.'
Kathryn Smith's 'Jack in Johannesburg' finally reaches its name city as part of Smith's show 'Euphemism', and can be seen at the Standard Bank Gallery. At the Goodman, the magisterial William Kentridge shows scenes and videos from his adaptation of 'The Magic Flute' on a scale model of the Brussels theatre where it opened recently, and Minnette Varì shows dramatic new video work at Gallery Momo. The legacy of the important art centre Rourke's Drift is at Warren Siebrits.
Sue Pam Grant's 'Simplicity Miss Petite Size 8M', mixed media prints on canvas, shares space at the NSA with 'Start', the Nivea Art Awards, while at artSpace, Clinton Friedman's 'Bloom',Gretha Quinlan's 'Sacred Geometry' and the textile art show,'Innovative Threads' will be up this month.
High season for art in Europe: the 51st Venice Biennale opens, followed by the Prague Biennale, followed by Art Basel and Liste. In London, Penny Siopis opens at the extraordinary Freud Museum. In Germany, 'Meanwhile in Africa ...' focuses its gaze south..
Is Art a gift? Curator Tamlyn Martin considers the dubious role of publicity in the recent 'Red Eye meets DDC' fashion/art event in Durban.
Berni Searle's new exhibition 'About to Forget' might be a one-trick show but it is difficult to object too loudly, says Kim Gurney, who finds Egon Tania's installation of wooden sculptures, 'Circle' intriguing in concept, but inconsistent. Sue Williamson is not an artist who falls back on old formulas, writes Ruth Sacks in a review of 'Hotels and Better Lives'.
In Gauteng: It is seldom an artist of Marina Abramovic's stature visits South Africa, writes Kathryn Smith, in an extended consideration of the artist's work, life, and performance at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Paolo Canevari is also discussed. Both drawn to and repelled by the exhibition of new work on Marley tiles by Dikwele Paul Molete, Robyn Sassen remains unambivalent about the artist's ability. Paul Cooper and Brenden Gray individually and collaboratively yield provocative yet quiet pieces at gordart, writes Sassen.
Bonita Alice works instinctively and sensually finds Camilla Copley, viewing her exhibition 'The Promised Land' at the NSA in KwaZulu Natal.
Andrew Lamprecht surveys the pre-Venice publicity, and presents his rundown. In the first of a two-part focus on KwaZulu Natal, Sue Williamson reports back on recent events in the province, and Kim Gurney gives a preview of the Grahamstown National Arts Festival, due to open in July.
Durban revisited and re-revisited, and Hotels and Better Lives opens in Cape Town.
Video artist and NSA curator Storm Janse van Rensburg is this month's art person.
Now freely available, Rhizome, a brilliant source of netart and much more, is new media editor Carine Zaayman's choice for site of the month. Also, links to dozens of other sites of interest.
In possibly a first, text in Xhosa as well as Dutch in English is part of the Unseen City project, showcasing at present the work of James Beckett, Lebohang Tlali and Mosk Faith.
Calls for artist's participation in a number of projects.
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The last portfolio available goes on auction this month at Bonhams in London - but you too can put in your bid!
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