Archive: Issue No. 119, July 2007

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NATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL GRAHAMSTOWN

Main festival

28.06.07 Pieter Hugo at the Monument Gallery
28.06.07 David Goldblatt at Ntsikana Gallery
28.06.07 James Webb at The Gallery in the Round and various spaces around Grahamstown
28.06.07 'POSITIVE' at the Grahamstown Gallery and the Albany History Museum
28.06.07 Marklyn Govender and Clint Singh at the Military Gallery
28.06.07 Leora Farber at the Standard Bank Gallery

Fringe exhibitions

28.06.07 Paul Sandick at the Victoria Girls High School
28.06.07 Anton Brink at the Albany Museum
28.06.07 'What I know about Biko: 30 Years On' at the Africa Media Matrix


Pieter Hugo

Pieter Hugo
Mallam Galadima Ahamadu with Jamis Abuja Nigeria 2005
photograph


NATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL GRAHAMSTOWN

Main festival

Pieter Hugo at the Monument Gallery

Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year Pieter Hugo's solo exhibition will be the centre of attention at the festival. In his photographs of individuals, families, interiors, landscapes, and incidental details taken in Musina, Hugo reflects on the wounds and scars of race, class and nationality that persist here. The circumstances of the area can be seen as broadly reflective of any community confronted by transition and transience.

Musina is a town formerly known as Messina, and in 2002 its name was changed to correct a colonial misspelling. This bushveld with its hunting farms and diamond mines inevitably attracts a collection of disparate as well as desperate inhabitants: opportunists, adventurers, policemen, smugglers, alien immigrants and prostitutes, among others.

Opens: June 28
Closes: July 10


James Webb

James Webb
Beau Diable 2007


James Webb at The Gallery in the Round and various spaces around Grahamstown

'Beau Diable', James Webb's latest solo exhibition, was assembled especially for this year's National Arts Festival. Comprising a variety of works in diverse media, and exploring some of Webb's key themes, this exhibition features both gallery-based and off-site projects.

In the Gallery In The Round, Webb will install The Black Passage, his audio recording of the empty elevator cage of the South Deep mine, the deepest twin-shaft goldmine on earth, descending and ascending the shaft. The piece is an aural assault: loud, abrasive and packed with psychological intensity.

Webb will also present numerous site-specific projects for the festival, one of which is a series of everyday electrical lights rigged to flash in Morse code. These text pieces, hidden throughout the city, remain the secret of the artist, and appear to be anything from the remnants of a séance, to the operations of a spy, to just being a piece of faulty electricity. Characteristically, these interventions are unadvertised, and are designed to be stumbled upon without prior knowledge so as to be experienced within the specific contexts of the environment, and not in a conventional, gallery-based art framework.

Opens: June 28
Closes: July 10


David Goldblatt

David Goldblatt
Her husband's brother Johannes and nephew Derrick
in Martjie Marais's kitchen in Gamkaskloof,
Cape Province (Western Cape), 1967
photograph


David Goldblatt at Ntsikana Gallery

David Goldblatt has been critically exploring South African society through his photographs for more than half a century and is lauded internationally as one of the world's leading photographers. This exhibition, coinciding with the publication of the eponymous book, includes most of the photographs from his early book, Some Afrikaners Photographed (1975) along with 20 additional photographs taken at the same time (the 1960s). This exhibition is the first occasion on which these photographs have been seen together in their entirety, about 40 years after they were taken. Goldblatt himself says he was never interested in presenting a cross-section or overview of a social group: his aim was to produce a tightly focused essay concerned with life and values among working and farming people.

Reflecting on the long journey that culminated in his book, Goldblatt writes: 'Travelling through vast, sparsely populated parts of the country with my camera became a major part of my life at that time. I think that our landscape is an essential ingredient in any attempt at understanding not just the Afrikaner but all of us here. We have shaped the land and the land has shaped us. Often the land was unforgivingly harsh. Yet, the harsher the landscape the stronger the Afrikaners' sense of belonging seemed to be. Many of the people whom I met in the course of those trips had a rootedness in the land of which I was very envious. Envious in the sense that I couldn't claim 300 years of ancestry in this country. Yet, increasingly, I felt viscerally bonded to it.'

Opens: June 28
Closes: July 10


Positive

Pieter Hugo
Bereaved
photograph

Positive

Churchill Madkida
Virus
print from video

Positive

Installation view
Durban Art Gallery 2005
Dineo Bopape and Clive Van den Berg

Positive

Bafana Mkhize
Aids Ribbon
wood sculpture

Positive

William Kentridge
Tide Table
film still


'POSITIVE' at the Grahamstown Gallery and the Albany History Museum

This exhibition is part of a ongoing process by the curator on the topic of the representations of HIV/Aids through the visual arts. It shows works from 2000 up until the present and includes well known South African artists such as Clive Van den Berg, Churchill Madikida, David Goldblatt, William Kentridge and Durban-based artists Themba Shibase, Langa Magwa, Hilton Gasa, Peter Bendheim, Bernice Stott and beadmakers Lobolile Ximba and Gabi Nzama.

Due to the nature of the epidemic, advocacy through art has become important. Work by collectives are foregrounded in this show and these include documentation of the Aids 2000 ribbon around the Durban City Hall curated by the Durban Art Gallery, the 'Little Travellers Project' instigated by the Hillcrest Aids Centre where a novel slant on beadwork has been taken and is accompanied by photographs taken by the crafters of their home environments. Bodymaps have become a well used tool for understanding the epidemic and its effect on the individual. The beadwork tableaux made in the 'Siyazama' project can demonstrate issues which are often impossible to verbalise in certain cultures.

The global proliferation of art about Aids is unprecedented in the history of art. It is now accepted that art can be part of the healing process as well as a contribution to education for prevention. The role of art has been particularly important in the South African context as it has enabled information to reach areas which are often cut off from mainstream channels of communication. The visual medium cuts across barriers of language and spaces. The racialisation and stigma associated with the disease has been lessened through artworks which represent its complexity and the emotional impact on the affected and infected.

Most of the artworks speak not only of HIV/Aids but resonate with universal issues such as health and disease, death and life and the need to understand difference in whatever form it manifests itself. The art in this show therefore has a universal message which brings a new meaning and a historical context to the HIV/Aids pandemic. A broadsheet catalogue documenting all the works on show will be available and walkabouts of the exhibition will be given.

This exhibition is a joint project between independent curator Carol Brown and the Durban Art Gallery and features works from both public and private collections.

Opens: June 28
Closes: July 10


Marklyn Govender and Clint Singh

Photograph of Marklyn Govender and Clint Singh
2007

Marklyn Govender and Clint Singh

Marklyn Govender and Clint Singh
Untitled (detail) 2007
oil painting


Marklyn Govender and Clint Singh at the Military Gallery

'What Lies Beneath' is a collaborative project by Durban artists Marklyn Govender and Clint Singh. Instead of brushes, they fill henna tubes with artists' oil paint and construct their paintings in the same way they would trace ancient patterns on skin. Both are experts in the art of Mendhi-henna designs which are part of bridal adornment in Hindu, Moslem and Sephardic traditions. Although the work may appear decorative, it has a deeper spiritual significance. Each in a succession of overlaid veils of elaborate patterns, uses a different language in a way that enables the eye to decode the various layers and, in so doing, unlock different messages. Govender and Singh are true collaborators: their ideas are so in tune it would be impossible to distinguish separate contributions. They were recently awarded one of the seven commissions for murals in the new Raphael Hotel in Sandton Square and are highly sought-after wedding designers in Durban.

Opens: June 28
Closes: July 10



Leora Farber at the Standard Bank Gallery

'Dis-location/Re-location', a multi-media, multi-disciplinary event is premised on how cultural identities are formed, re-defined and become hybridized. With her installation Leora Farber and collaborators Strangelove feed into a debate that is vividly relevant in a society in the process of integrating an amalgam of cultures. She presents a body of artwork that questions and investigates in a visually rich and challenging manner, common assumptions about cultural purity. In the installation, the artist presents herself as a post-colonial, white, English-speaking Jewish female. Her alter ego is Bertha Guttman, the young British Jewess who was brought to South Africa in the late 19th century for an arranged marriage with the immigrant entrepreneur Sammy Marks.

Opens: June 28
Closes: July 10



Fringe exhibitions

Phil Sandick at the Victoria Girls High School

Photographer Phil Sandick takes on the African mask with all its weighty cultural history. In 'Contemporary African Masks and Converse Clichés' Sandick questions the superficial and reactionary judgement passed down on today's youth culture, exposing the complex processes that have led to the uncritical and wholesale importation of western street culture. He asks, 'At once disguising and amplifying, evoking and concealing, threatening and retreating, who are the human beings behind these Contemporary African Masks?'

Opens: June 28
Closes: July 10


Anton Brink

Anton Brink
Fragile 01: Identity
oil on canvas


Anton Brink at the Green Gallery

A group of paintings which appear at first glance to be fairly conventional cloudscapes, the Fragile series by Anton Brink carries a darker environmental message expressed through crowds of people silhouetted before these skies and in barcodes and stencils that literally 'spoil the view' in some of the works. The work is a poignant exploration of shared responsibility in the face of a nameless threat.

Opens: June 28
Closes: July 10



'What I know about Biko: 30 Years On' at the Africa Media Matrix

'What I know about Biko: 30 Years On' is a combined art exhibition by Carinus Art Centre (VGHS learners), township schools art outreach project participants and Rhodes University Fine art student Volunteers. The multi-media exhibition uses ceramics, graphics, paintings, sculpture and textile art to explore the legacy of Steve Biko. This legacy is intimately linked to the rise of the Black Consciousness movement and involves the students examining all aspects of identity within a society in transformation.

Opens: June 28
Closes: July 10

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