Archive: Issue No. 127, March 2008

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Brenton Maart

Brenton Maart 2008
Factory Crossword Version 4
Pigment prints on Mitsubishi archival plastic, plastic zip channels, metal cabling, turnbuckles
2.94 x 10.5 m

Brenton Maart

Brenton Maart
Bareback-Flyboys 2003
Pigment prints on archival plastic, plastic channels, metal cabling, turn-buckles
2.5 x 2.7m

Curated by Ultra-red

In recent years Ultra-red has joined with community groups in multiple cities in the U.S. and Canada to explore strategies for collective organizing around the AIDS epidemic. They have held these events in art museums, galleries and art schools in order to investigate the potential role such institutions may play in local efforts to address the crisis. LACE has hosted Ultra-red on a number of occasions in its development of these projects and in doing so has participated actively in these investigations. The collaboration between LACE and Ultra-red on this exhibition of works by Brenton Maart marks a significant step in this institutional analysis.

Brenton Maart, a South African gay man of mixed racial heritage, was born and raised when the Apartheid regime was in power. Consequently, he is intimately acquainted with how state regulation of race and sexuality shapes intimate emotional, psychological and physical experiences. In the post-Apartheid era he and other artists of his and earlier generations, such as Bernie Searle, Anton Kannemeyer, Zanele Muholi, Conrad Botes, Diane Victor, and Nicholas Hlobo, have begun investigating the desires, hopes, histories and practices that define the contemporary sphere of sexuality in South Africa.

This work inventories the ideological practices that shape how South Africans imagine and re-imagine themselves. While the trajectories these artists follow may be particular to South Africa, their work is nevertheless resonant with comparable efforts in the United States. Laws criminalizing miscegenation, commercial sex work, homosexuality, abortion and almost all explicit and even suggestive representations of sex inscribed the Apartheid system into the most intimate bodily practices and consciousnesses of all South Africans. Policies advancing rights and freedoms for all South African citizens have now replaced those enforcing racial discrimination. However, these new rights and freedoms are profoundly abridged by entrenched racial and income inequalities, deeply rooted and widespread conservative moral attitudes, and some of the highest reported rates of sexual violence and HIV-infection in the world.

Brenton Maart is one of only a small number of artists focusing on gay male sexuality within the context of South Africa's new political dispensation. In his work, practices of freedom occur within the processes of making and sharing representations. Drawing on his training in biotechnology and his extensive experience in the fields of HIV prevention and social research he has grounded his aesthetic investigations in systematic, participatory methods. The work on view at LACE draws from projects conducted in sex clubs in South Africa with the support of multiple consecutive grant awards from the South African National Arts Council. In making this work, Maart established collaborative relationships with the men he photographed, documented their life histories, invited them to select images to include in his 'indexes,' the comprehensive visual archives documenting particular venues and events, and held his first exhibitions of his photographs in the spaces in which they were shot.

Acknowledgement: Maart's artwork, Factory Crossword, was commissioned with funds from the Ford Foundation for Make Art/Stop AIDS, an exhibition of HIV/AIDS related art work from the United States, South Africa, Brazil and India. The exhibition, scheduled to travel to venues in each of the participating countries, is having its first showing at the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles (February 23 – June 15, 2008). Concerned that Maart's work would present a barrier to the attendance of school groups to the exhibition—a target audience—the Fowler was hopeful it might be presented elsewhere in Los Angeles. Fortunately, LACE offered to show the piece, along with other works by Brenton Maart. The Fowler has generously sponsored this exhibition by providing financial and logistical support. Factory Crossword will join the Make Art/Stop AIDS exhibition when it travels to Mexico City in July 2008.

Related Public Programs
Thursday, February 28, 7 - 9 pm
PNP: Party n Plays
AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) presents an evening of theater on gay men and substance use. Whether the substance is love and friendship, meth or pot, we invite the greater Los Angeles communities to join in an evening of fine artistic work and substantive discussion on the perils and pleasures inherent in the volatile mix of masculinity, lust and drugs. Featuring staged readings of excerpts from: Circuitry by Andrew Barrett; Porridge by Brian Bauman; A Writer & His History by Ricardo A. Bracho; Meth'ed to Madness by Anthony Breen; I Am Derek Jackson by Derek Jackson; (e)vaporate. by Christopher Oscar Pena; and INHALE/EXHALE by Robert Sanchez. Dramaturgy and Direction by Ricardo A. Bracho. Produced by Patrick 'Pato' Hebert, Associate Director of Education, APLA. Free and open to all publics.
Saturday, March 1, 2 – 6pm followed by a reception

THE EPIDEMIC IS STILL BEGINNING : Sexuality, Representation and HIV Prevention Justice
A symposium hosted by Ultra-red and Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP).

Brenton Maart earned his MSc degree in Biotechnology from Rhodes University and a MFA in Photography from the University of Witwatersrand. He studied for three years at the Market Photography Workshops in Johannesburg. At the Center for the Study of AIDS at Pretoria University he implemented HIV/AIDS prevention programs, participated in social science research and designed and developed media for use in community-based interventions. He is currently the director of KwaZulu-Natal Society for the Arts in Durban, one of South Africa's most significant art venues. Maart has exhibited extensively in South Africa and internationally.

LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions), a nonprofit contemporary art center located in the heart of Hollywood, is internationally recognized as a pioneer among art institutions. For three decades and counting, LACE has curated and produced art and events that inspire the public imagination and engage with timely issues that shape local and global life. Support for LACE and its programs comes from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, The Getty Foundation, Jockey Hollow Foundation, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Morris Family Foundation, Stone Brewing Co., and the members of LACE.

February 16 - March 9, 2008
Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE)
6522 Hollywood Boulevard

Los Angeles, CA 90028