For the international artworld, June presents a feast of contemporary art which happens only when the Venice Biennale (every two years) coincides with documenta (every five). Add to that Art Basel in Switzerland and the Munster Sculpture Project, and the mix is potent indeed.
In Venice, Africa, with its 53 different countries, has struggled for decades to attain a presence of any significance at the Biennale, but this may well be the year that signals a new awareness of the continent. 'Check List Luanda Pop', selections from the Sindika Dokolo African Collection of Contemporary Art curated by Fernando Alvim and Simon Njami, is headed for what is being called an 'African pavilion' in the Arsenale. Biennale director Robert Storr himself has included a number of African artists on his keynote show, also in the Arsenale. See International News and Listings.
Documenta 12 does not reveal its list of artists until the opening, but it is known that at least three South African artists will be represented. ArtThrob is part of the documenta 12 magazines project, and for the 100 days of documenta, an article will appear in a special section in News from one of the participating magazines.
Check ArtThrob next month for a full report back on Venice and documenta.
NEXT UPDATE: Sunday, July 1
NATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL GRAHAMSTOWN
All eyes will be focused on the debut of Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year Pieter Hugo's touring exhibition at this year's National Arts Festival. But keep eyes (and ears) peeled for some of the other delights in store - like James Webb's audio/visual installations which will be hidden in the most unexpected of places around town.
Photography dominates Cape Town this month. Michael Stevenson shows Zanele Muholi, Youssef Nabil and Rotimi Fani-Kayodé, Monique Pelser opens at Bell-Roberts, and the month closes with a flourish at Goodman Gallery Cape's 'The Loaded Lens'. João Ferreira bucks the trend and shows Mark Hipper's new work.
'Africa Remix', one of the largest ever surveys of African art, makes it to its first and only African destination. Frances Goodman opens at the Goodman and Churchill Madikida brings his Standard Bank Young Artist show to the Standard Bank Gallery. In an unusual move, David Krut Projects shows some Julian Opie works.
In a fairly quiet month, Andrew Verster presents an exhibition of previously unseen works at the KZNSA, while the Durban Art Gallery hosts 'Messages and Meaning', an exhibition showcasing MTN's art collection. Durban mainstay Sfiso Ka Mkame shows his latest body of work at the African Art Centre.
It's springtime in Europe and the art fair and Biennale season is in full swing. The 52nd Biennale di Venezia and documenta 12 both open, as does the world's best established art fair - Art Basel. South Africans feature in all three. See NEWS for more about the former two. Elsewhere you can catch solo outings by Kendell Geers, Nicholas Hlobo and Robin Rhode, as well as a project by young upstarts Avant Car Guard.
In her simple but carefully pitched installation, Nomthunzi Mashalaba questions the 'institution of mark-making in art', reflecting on the social and industrial processes whereby objects accrue meaning - meanings that sometimes contradict their origins and escape repressive histories. Tavish McIntosh reviews. Paul Edmunds was lucky enough to score a Press Pass to Andrew Putter's '20 Smells'. He took his marginally famous sense of smell along and came away with a lot more than he bargained for. Linda Stupart ponders the relevance of showing old video work by Bruce Nauman and Charles Atlas in a university-based gallery in South Africa. The value lies, she concludes, in the fact that the work has not been seen by this audience before and it is seminal in its field. Its importance for artists dealing with gender, queer theory and performance in particular, is notable.
Deborah Poynton's 'The Grip of Circumstance' comprises four paintings executed in the artist's highly naturalistic style on her characteristically large scale. Here, however, suggests Michael Smith, the 'scale on which these images exist speaks less of "showmanship" than of the intensity of the emotions and psychological states Poynton wishes her viewer to explore.' Smith also reviews 'Collaborations: An Exhibitions of Young Artists' comprising collaborative productions by fine art students and their peers from other parts of Wits University. While he feels that many of the works did not quite match the promise of the curatorial brief, he states that 'the organisers and curators are to be lauded for the initiative they have shown and their willingness to engage in a logistical task that would scare off most established gallerists'.
'Jabulisa 2006: The Art and Craft of KwaZulu-Natal' has certainly provoked responses from supporters and critics alike, and this is an important achievement, argues Elizabeth Perrill. However, the unending art/craft debate is addressed rather shabbily here and along with the rather overblown size of the whole exhibition, serves only to complicate things further.
Sue Williamson reviews the exciting Robin Rhode at Perry Rubenstein.
Carol Brown reviews Beautiful/Ugly - African and Diaspora Aesthetics, edited by Sarah Nuttall, a prizewinner of a recent Arts Council for African Studies Association book award. The book examines notions of beauty within Africa, and also its imposition from the outside, resulting in a document which successfully straddles the academic and the popular.
Carol Brown poses the question, 'Is Durban really the backwater of the South African art scene?'
In the first of our Documenta, in response to the third of the Biennale's leitmotifs - What is to be done? - ArtThrob invited Ruth Sacks to describe a project which required no gallery and no installation costs as the exhibition exists only on paper, and yet, since it does exist on paper, it has as much possibility of creating an impact on the readers of the catalogue as if it had been a real exhibition.
Two documentary photographers receive accolades in the last six months and a Canna award is given to Adriaan Van Zyl's posthumous Retrospective at the KKNK. Michael Smith reports on two new art blogs from Johannesburg. From Durban we hear that artSPACE durban is to open a new space in Berlin and a new curator has been appointed at the KZNSA. In Cape Town David Krut Arts Resource opens a book shop. Alexandra artist wins Scottish residency. Cape Town-based painter Kevin Atkinson died last week at the age of 67 from a debilitating illness. Atkinson graduated from Michaelis in 1962 and lectured there for many years.
Three SA photographers feature on this year's LUMO International Photography Triennale. Sue Williamson reports that for the first time ever, there will be an African pavilion at the Venice Biennale which opens in June. A few days later Documenta 12 opens in Kassel, with participation by three SA artists on the show and ArtThrob in the magazines project.
Sue Williamson visits Washington and New York.
Michael Smith looks at young Johannesburg-based artist Billie Zangewa.
Ed Young visits www.vvork.com, which he describes as 'a handy little website showcasing the work of international contemporary artists'.
This month's project is Iraqi artist Wafaa Bilal's 'Domestic Tension', which puts a new spin on the familiar artist-as-lab-rat strategy.
Emerging artists invited to submit applications for Mentoring Workshop at Greatmore Studios and the AVA calls for proposals for 'Ball Sports'.The Frieze Writer's Prize calls for entries and there are some studio spaces to rent in Cape Town.
Everyone is apparently too scared, or sorry, to respond to Michael Smith's defence of himself.
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