'Never Again' at the Durban Art Gallery
by Francesca Verga
'Never Again', curated by the Durban Art Galley coincides with the Diakonia association's 30th anniversary. The organisation is well-known for its contribution to, and involvement in the struggle for human rights and equality in South Africa. The exhibition was opened by Bishop Philip Rubin of the Anglican Diocese, who was active in the black consciousness movement. He expressed his support of the Gallery's participation in highlighting human rights issues, with this exhibition exploring important social issues and reflecting a commitment to ensure the atrocities and injustices of apartheid are 'Never Again' repeated.
The exhibition, hung in the DAG's Gallery 2, features a large body of works from the permanent collection, works from Diakonia's collection, from the University of Zululand and various artists' collections. The works reflect the Durban Art Gallery's long standing support of the struggle for fair treatment for all and Diakonia's involvement in speaking out against unfair practices and neglect of basic human rights issues.
The artworks on exhibition range widely in media, and include numerous posters by human rights activist Maria Criticos, sculptures by Bafana Mkhize and Dina Cormick, mixed media works by Paul Sibisi, paintings by George Pemba, linocuts by Thabani Msomi and a large portfolio entitled Images of Human Rights, 1996. The latter was produced by various SA printmakers and curated by the Artists for Human Rights in celebration of the New Bill of Rights.
The Gallery has taken care to ensure a wide range of issues are included, from HIV/Aids, the previously restricted vote, health care, the rights of workers, women and children, and the role of the Diakonia group of churches in campaigning for equality. No one issue has been highlighted more than any others. The works have been purposefully selected to reflect the commitment by artists, the Gallery and Diakonia to foregrounding human rights issues. The role of the arts is clearly reflected in the choice of subject matter. Interestingly, the Dumile Feni retrospective is hung in the adjacent gallery, and 'Durban Today', which focuses on the Ethekwini Municipality's commitment to service delivery and improving the quality of life, is running concurrently.
'Never Again' provides food for thought and acts as a visual testimony to artists campaigning for social democracy and equality as South Africa settles into its new democracy.
Opens: February 22
Closes: March 26
Durban Art Gallery
2nd Floor City Hall, Smith Street, Durban
Tel: (031) 311 2262
Hours: Mon - Sat 8.30am - 4pm, Sun 11am - 4pm