Sperm Halo 1999
Sperm, glass test tubes,
labels, wood, neon lighting
Installation view

Sperm Halo 1999 (detail)

Breastlay 1999
Handmade chocolates, made
with breast milk from the artist
Installation view

Boy Fiction 1998
Styling: The artist
Photographer: Stan Engelbrecht

Boy Fiction Bible
Found object with
embossing added

Gold Rush 1999 (detail)
Vial, coral, gold
A collaborative piece
executed by jewellery
designer Andre Koots

Preserving Purity 1998
Photobooth photos, jars,
steel, documentation
Installation detail

Preserving Purity 1998 (detail)

Preserving Purity 1998 (detail)

Virginique - As seen
on TV

Christian National Education:
Bunnylicks, Blondines en
Cards, text, paint samples,
slide projection

The artist stands in front of
her installation in a replica
of her school uniform

Christian National Education

Bungy-jumping without rope
(A Monument to Folly)
Clipboard, paper
Installation details


A feature on an artist in the public eye

Veronique Malherbe
(June, 1999)

Modus operandi:

Through her projects, the multi-media artist Veronique Malherbe attacks the concepts that lie behind discrimination - the concepts of truth, beauty, of the ideal mother or father, the perfect race, the correct sexual orientation, the right religion. On occasion labelled narcissistic - Malherbe herself often plays the central role in her projects - the artist is, in effect, using herself and her own lived experience to pose the questions that interest her.

Artist's statement:

"A good idea that failed is still more interesting than a mediocre one perfectly executed. If I know exactly what an artwork will look like and what I am trying to say with it when I think of it for the first time, I seldom bother to execute it, because the work then already exists, if only in my head. I set myself conceptual tasks that involve a lot of planning, thinking, research, fieldwork, human interaction and exploration. I ask myself and my viewers to re-examine perceived notions of sanity, normality, beauty, purity, goodness and acceptable behaviour.

"My work explores the surface or appearance of things in juxtaposition to what lies beneath the veneer. Often, the work that appears in the gallery is merely a midpoint between the research and performance that preceded the exhibition and the reaction of viewers and the media that follows it. The gallery space is important in that it serves as an office from which to operate, much as my studio does. I may be having fun, but I am not frivolous."


Malherbe's show 'The Quest for Zero Defect' is about to end at João Ferreira Fine Art in Cape Town, amidst a welter of discussion, extensive press coverage, radio and television interviews, even an acrimonious musem discussion about the nature of some of the pieces and of the artist herself. Sperm Halo involved the donation of sperm by 100 men in a piece which considered genetic diversity. Donors were chosen on the basis of their creativity. Breastlay was a selection of chocolates made from the artist's own breast milk. In one series of photos, the artist poses as the Madonna, holding a Bible sub-titled Boy Fiction. In her arms is her baby son, hair parted Richie Rich style, clutching a cross with a crucifix with an emblem that resembles female genitals.

What the critics are saying:

ArtThrob reviewed Malherbe's show last month and Paul Edmunds wrote on it for the Mail & Guardian.

Before that:

For the Terry Kurgan curated show, 'Bringing Up Baby', Malherbe charted her life as it changed from that of a single woman in London to becoming pregnant and giving birth. The notes, drawings, mementoes and photobooth photos which made up this record were displayed in a series of baby food jars suspended at eye level from a steel spiral into the centre of which viewers could walk.

And before that:

Malherbe went to London from Johannesburg in the first place to escape death threats and attempts to terrorise her when she tried to find out the truth behind the deaths of two gay men. Pictures taken at the death scenes and evidence she had collected were exhibited by Malherbe as an installation entitled Monuments to Folly at the famous Bob's Bar in Troyeville.

Next up:

"In June I start working on the concept and implementation of my next long-term project, which should be completed by January 1 2000. The project deals with surface and transformation and will involve a performance artist, a photographer, a website designer, sound artists and possibly a film-maker. More than this I would rather not say now ?

"In July I will be involved in a group exhibition called 'Bloodlines' at the AVA, as well as the launch of a book about the exhibition.

"Long-term plans include script writing, becoming more acquainted with the intracacies of computers, sound sampling and recording, as I am interested in moving into creating sound collages and sound sculptures as opposed to visual ones. Last but not least, learning to drive ?"


1968 Born Cape Town

1999 'The Quest for Zero Defect', João Ferreira Fine Art
1999 'Bloodlines', Klein Karoo Festival, Oudtshoorn
1999 'Image Text Cut-ups', Nico Malan Theatre, Cape Town
1998 'Bringing Up Baby', Standard Bank National Arts Festival, Grahamstown; Cape Town Castle; Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg
1997 '69 Teaze Shirts by Virginique', Mau Mau Gallery, Cape Town
1996 FNB Vita Awards (Finalist)
1995 'Objects of Defiance, Spaces of Contemplation', Museum Africa, 1st Johannesburg Biennale
1995 'Figurehead' and 'Cunning Stunts', Newtown Artspace
1995 'Monuments to Folly', Bob's Bar, Troyeville
1994 'Women on Men', Seeff Trust Gallery, Cape Town
1994 'Women on Women', Seeff Trust Gallery, Cape Town
1994 Volkskas Atelier Awards Exhibition, Pretoria
1993 Volkskas Atelier Awards Exhibition, Pretoria
1993 Short Film Screening, South African National Gallery, Cape Town

1995 Vita Award Nomination
1991 Weekly Mail Film Festival (One of top four films)
1989 Weekly Mail Human Rights Festival (One of top four films)

1993 Lurching Towards Plan Zero - Cameraperson, scriptwriter, director, editor
1991 Condomman - Scriptwriter, director, editor
1990 Webster Spirit - Cameraperson, assistant director
1989 Goodbye Tarzan - Cameraperson, director, scriptwriter. Screened in London, Amsterdam, Berlin and Johannesburg
1989 Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous - Director, scriptwriter. Screened in London, Amsterdam, Berlin and Johannesburg
1987 Aluta Continua - Director, editor
1987 This Is Life - Cameraperson, director, editor

1996 Higher National Diploma Fine Art (With distinction), Witwatersrand Technikon
1989 Pretoria Film School
1988 BA (Political Studies Africa), University of Cape Town

... MWeb

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