SPECIAL FEATURE: ART AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Over the last decade, contemporary South African art has attracted unprecedented interest with local and international exhibitions increasing and sale prices soaring. Many artists, and their support systems, are seen to be riding the crest of this wave. But how widespread is this success? This issue, focused on art and social development, examines the visual arts sector and poses some tough questions.
Twelve years after the transition to democracy, many in this sector are taking stock and reflecting on what has been achieved, especially in the build up to Visual Arts Network of South Africa's (VANSA) first national conference set for early 2006. (See News and watch ArtThrob for further information). With the focus on access, growth, transformation and opportunity, the conference aims to confront some of the vexed questions that beset the sector and consider ways in which the visual arts can best be developed.
In preparation for the conference, some VANSA committee members have written articles or position papers that begin to address issues of concern to grassroots VANSA members who were canvassed in a process that Gabi Ngcobo outlines in her description of VANSA's formation and some of its achievements to date.
In 'Transformation and the Visual Arts in South Africa' Zayd Minty questions the degree to which our institutions and organisations have transformed since 1994 and makes concrete proposals for expediting the process. With VANSA's five-year plan centred on Visual Arts and Social Development, Joseph Gaylard's 'The Retreat of Creativity' reflects critically on the role of the South African visual arts in social development, suggesting ways in which the visual arts can operate more effectively in civic life.
The latest update from CAPE provides information on 'SESSIONS eKAPA' scheduled
for December and news on the process of selecting the Artistic Director for
2006 (See Exchange as well). With all these activities in the pipeline, the
visual arts arena is set for some fascinating debates, intersections and interventions.
My thanks go to Zayd Minty for assisting in conceptualising this edition, to the contributors and especially to all VANSA committee members who volunteer their services in the interests of building a stronger visual arts sector.
Guest Editor Emma Bedford is Curator of Contemporary Paintings and Sculpture at Iziko South African National Gallery, National Executive Member of the Visual Arts Network of South Africa and a Committee Member of VANSA Western Cape
Next update: Friday, December 2
The end of the year always brings the Michaelis Graduate Show. The AVA hosts the final in the Absolut series of fundraising shows, while 34Long shows a selection of Kentridge editions, some charcoal drawings as well as some work not yet shown in South Africa. If you're after something affordable, the Drawing Room collective present their second installment of affordable art at what if the world... Be sure not to miss Anton Kannemeyer's opening at Erdmann Contemporary on November 28.
Having opened the year with the launch of her monograph, Penny Siopis returns to the Goodman with a new series of paintings in a show entitled 'Passions and Panics'. Downtown at Afronova, Sandile Zulu and Gonça;lo Mabunda's exhibition marks the space's third exhibition in the hub of Johannesburg's redevelopment initiative. 'Women by Women', an exhibition of paintings by women, organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, comes to the JAG following its showing in Durban.
This month sees renowned photographer Roger Ballen launch a new publication Shadow Chambers, images from which are on exhibition at the DAG. 'Unsettled' showcases the works of, among others, photographers David Goldblatt, Guy Tillim and Santu Mofekeng, and 'Young Black and Gifted' Themba Siwela showcases a selection of politically inspired cartoons at the BAT Centre.
Capetonian artist Ed Young is again making international appearances as is young photographer Mikhael Subotzky. Gregg Smith, also from Cape Town but currently based in France, shows video work in several venues in Europe, while Robin Rhode shows at MoMA and usual suspects Berni Searle and Guy Tillim pop up again.
Linda Stupart reviews Cameron Platter at the Bell-Roberts, as well as Diane Victor and Churchill Madikida at Michael Stevenson. We also have a piece about an 'art hotel' in Riebeeck-Kasteel, north of Cape Town. We have a host of student reviews as well, including pieces on Willie Bester, Dorothee Kreutzfeldt and Dumile Feni.
New Johannesburg Contributing Editor Michael Smith reviews Marco Cianfanelli's show at Gallery Momo, while Robyn Sassen reviews the Battiss retrospective at the Standard Bank Gallery.
Niall McNulty reviews Red Eye's latest production 'Intersection', arguing that it goes far to reclaim and re-invigorate Durban's inner city.
ART AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT FEATURE
CAPE's plans to produce a 'biennial cultural project that is not just another biennale' are certainly ambitious. Their attempt to develop an African-based platform to explore the continent's diversity of art and culture is detailed here. Gabi Ngcobo writes about the formation of VANSA and its achievements to date. Joseph Gaylard's 'The Retreat of Creativity' reflects critically on the role of the South African visual arts in social development, suggesting ways in which the visual arts can operate more effectively in civic life. In 'Transformation and the Visual Arts in South Africa' Zayd Minty questions the degree to which our institutions and organisations have transformed since 1994 and makes concrete proposals for expediting the process.
VANSA announces a national conference and their first AGM, both to take place in Cape Town. Francesca Verga writes about the three year collaborative programme between the BAT Centre and Swedish Cirkus 'Cirkör', who recently visited Durban.
Sue is currently enjoying a residency in California, from where she writes to us about this, her visit earlier in the month to Angola and the brief stopover she made in Cape Town between the two trips.
This month's Artbio features the inimitable and increasingly prominent Cape Town-based Ed Young. Read it to find out how to do so little to such great effect. Look at International Listings to see just what we mean by this.
The Critique group offers a platform for visual artists to post their work, and have other members comment on it. Carine Zaayman tells us more.
'Physical Computing' is the subject of this month's project page, by Carine Zaayman.
Exchange features CAPE's call for an Art Director, Art Omi's residency programme and studio to let in Cape Town amongst other things.
We have some substantial Feedback for once. Gavin Anderson responds at length to Andrew Lamprecht's review of 'In the Process... ' that we ran in September. Emma Bedford responds to ArtThrob's question - why do South African museums not mount more retrospective exhibitions of mid-career artists?
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