Unbelievably, nine years after the early demise of the now legendary 2nd Johannesburg Biennale in 1997, wistful rumours of its imminent resuscitation still circulate on the international circuit, and were repeated to me again at the Havana Bienal in Cuba last week. Perhaps they will be laid to rest when the first Trans Cape takes place later this year, planned to occur every two years. Under the direction of Gavin Jantjes and the curatorship of the admirable Khwezi Gule and the SANG's Gabi Ngcobo, this will be an all African artist event, with exhibitions and performances stretching through the larger Cape Town area. See NEWS
Some international biennials - a very few - fund artists to attend, like the Dak'Art Biennial in May, to which six South African artists have been invited. See NEWS for the full list of attendees. Others don't. Like the Venice, Sao Paulo and Havana Biennales, the last of which opened on March 27. Raising the funding from the State for the shipping of work and airfares to attend is almost impossible, yet the exhibition of work and personal attendance at these Biennales is mandatory if South Africa is ever to take its rightful place in the international art world.
At the Havana Bienal on currently, only two of the six invited artists were able to go, and be represented by work, and those two only because they funded themselves.� The funding proposal was rejected by the Department of Arts and Culture. Thus although the Cuban curator had personally come to this country and made his selections, it was not considered important enough to warrant funding. See DIARY
Cultural tourism is huge, internationally. For art lovers, calls on local galleries and museums are top of the agenda on foreign trips. Most top South African galleries will tell you that the majority of their sales are to overseas visitors.
We need to get structures in place in the Department of Arts and Culture and dedicated people there who have the knowledge to evaluate the invitations and proposals that come in, pass them on to appropriate curators where necessary, and allocate funds in the right cases.
Let's make it happen.
Next update: Friday, May 5
'Picasso and Africa' opens at the SANG, and Standard Bank Young Artist winner Wim Botha presents his 'Premonition of War' at the same venue. Photographers Guy Tillim and Roger Ballen both hold solo shows, Johann van der Schijff exhibits his playful sculptures and blank projects holds an exhibition of photographs by male sex workers.
Cape Town artist Sanell Aggenbach has her Jozi solo début at Art on Paper, while SA-born American artist Elizabeth Harington shows work inspired by the music of Bach at the University of Johannesburg Art Gallery. Andrew Nhlangwini exhibits a compelling body of work at Gallery Momo and the collaborative project, 'Mira Mari', goes up at JAG, while Francois van Reenen takes 'A Dog's Life' to The Premises.
'Cyprian Shilakoe Revisited' opens at the Durban Art Gallery before touring nationally. 'New Painting' at the KZNSA presents the likes of Moshekwa Langa and Johannes Pokhela alongside Deborah Poynton, Tanya Poole and many others. artSPACE presents 'Off the Wall', showcasing graffiti and comic art.
Robert Hodgins exhibits new work in London and Marie Strauss shows in Melbourne. Steven Cohen and Elu present a show at Bard College in New York State. A reportback on the Havana Biennal from Sue Williamson.
Linda Stupart reviews 'Lines of Attitude: Crossing Continents with Street Art', which brings together street artists from SA, the UK and Kenya, and she also gets to grips with Zanele Muholi at Michael Stevenson Contemporary. Andrew Lamprecht reviews Roger Palmer's 'Plume', held recently at the Michaelis Gallery.
Michael Smith reviews Mikhael Subotzky's much lauded 'Die Vier Hoeke and Umjiegwana' which showed recently at the Goodman Gallery.
Francesca Verga caught a performance of Peter van Heerden's 'Bok', presented in the park adjacent to Durban's KZNSA.
Lisa Schmidt reviews 'Black, Brown, White: Photography from South Africa' which is currently showing at Kunsthalle Vienna.
Michael Smith reports on Wits University and BHP Billiton's new visual arts fellowship, and on the 'Beeldspraak' auction which recently netted over R180 000 for charity. In Cape Town, Cape Africa launches its first bi-annual art 'manifestation' - 'Trans Cape' - and announces its curators. The selection committee for the 2006 African contemporary art Biennial, Dak'Art, has released the names of 87 artists chosen for the main exhibition of the forthcoming event, including on their list six South Africans. At the same time Res Artis, the worldwide network of artist residencies, announces a partnership with the Dakar Biennial. David Goldblatt has been awarded the prestigious Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography. Francesca Verga reports on the opening of the exhibition of the selected entries from KwaZulu Natal for this year's ABSA L'Atelier Award.
Sue Williamson heads off to Havana for the 9th Bienal.
Recent winner of a World Press award for his portraiture, Pieter Hugo, is featured this month.
Carine Zaayman profiles 'South African Arts Emerging' which describes its work as 'Providing a free South African alternative to the gallery-driven, Cape Town-based, and mainstream media'.
The Virtual Museum of Contemporary African Art in the Netherlands has hosted, since 2001, Mustafa Maluka's 'Bad for your health, Wrong Colour'. Carine Zaayman visits.
BHP Billiton/Wits University invites applications for their Visual Arts Fellowship, VideoChannel invites submissions and Sun International extends invitation to visual artists.
Once again, nothing of consequence, apart from a host of letters telling me I'd won the lottery.
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