'If a Tree'Various Artists at Stevenson in Johannesburg
Curated by Clare Butcher, this is the second of three exhibitions in the gallery's Trade Routes Project, marking the 15th anniversary of the second Johannesburg Biennale. The exhibition seeks to revisit elements of the controversial second Johannesburg Biennale (entitled 'Trade Routes: History and Geography'), which took place in Johannesburg and Cape Town in 1997.
'If A Tree...' takes its cue from the age-old philosophical dilemma about cause, effect and the contingency of witnessing history in the making. Presenting a mixed group of artistic generations and geographies, the exhibition traces speculative routes outwards from the second Johannesburg Biennale in order to gauge its bearing on local and transnational contemporary art practice.
The artists' projects included in the exhibition alternate between intimate reflections on direct encounters with the biennale 15 years ago, and broader comments on art's political economy in the surrounding city context. Each approach attempts to see the wood for the trees. What is the efficacy of reviving such a moment in the country's all too recent past - a time of interregnum and uncertainty, with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in full swing? Are the biennale's original themes still relevant in today's immigration and economic crises? And how do we realise the generative possibilities embedded within this contested archive of art history in the present?
The artists included are James Beckett (South Africa/Netherlands), Dineo Seshee Bopape (South Africa), Heman Chong (Singapore) with Eduardo Cachucho (South Africa), Yvonne Dröge Wendel (Netherlands), Paul Edmunds (South Africa), Simon Gush (South Africa), Nicholas Hlobo (South Africa), Phillip Raiford Johnson (South Africa/UK), Antonis Pittas (Greece/Netherlands), Colin Richards (South Africa), Robin Rhode (South Africa/Germany), Lerato Shadi (South Africa/Germany) and Kemang Wa Lehulere (South Africa).
'If A Tree...' follows 'Trade Routes Over Time', at Stevenson Cape Town in April/May 2012; the project will conclude with a third exhibition at the end of the year in Cape Town, accompanied by a Trade Routes Project publication containing archival documentation and research essays.
05 July - 04 August