De Arte - Volume 2013, Issue 88, 2013
Volumes & issues
Volume 2013, Issue 88, 2013
Author Bernadette Van HauteSource: De Arte 2013, pp 2 –3 (2013)More Less
Accreditation is the only way for a scholarly journal to survive in today's competitive environment. In order to ensure the academic standard of de arte, the editorial committee decided a couple of years ago to invite internationally renowned scholars to serve on the Advisory Board. We are happy to announce that Steven Nelson, Associate Professor of African and African American Art History at UCLA, Los Angeles, has become a member of the panel of advisors.
Author Karin M. SkawranSource: De Arte 2013, pp 4 –6 (2013)More Less
Although Neels Coetzee (Johannes Cornelius Coetzee) is known as one of South Africa's finest sculptors, far too little is known about his person, his education and training, and, above all, his achievements. The fact that he produced magnificent drawings, independent from his sculptures, is just one of his achievements which has not been sufficiently acknowledged. Coetzee was a modest man who lived a reserved life. The last six years of his life he was bed-ridden and unable to produce art.
Actions speak louder than words in 'The Alice Sequence' : a series of exhibitions by Wilma Cruise : researchAuthor Ann-Marie TullySource: De Arte 2013, pp 7 –20 (2013)More Less
The artist Wilma Cruise's exploration of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland (1865) as an iconic and thematic motif for her recent series of exhibitions, collectively titled 'The Alice Sequence' (2011-2012), presents a theoretically rich exploration of the human/animal dialectic. This article explores key notions of inter-species communication and distinction that arise from Cruise's artistic exploration, also the practice-led component of her doctoral study. I argue that Cruise's interest in this fanciful text stems from the proliferation of distinctive animal characters in Carroll's oeuvre; in particular the credible 'force' of the creatures of Wonderland who, in their fictional veracity, resist (to some extent) a descent into becoming solely allegorical conduits. Carroll's fantastical realm, where humans and animals converse with each other, is fertile ground for an artistic and theoretical contemplation of human and animal cognisant difference (a concept at the core of anthropological distinction). In pursuing this direction I explicate Cruise's extension of Carroll's fictional trope into the Freudian and Lacanian terrain of the preconscious and pre-linguistic modality (Cruise 2012:17-20), which Cruise links to the phenomenon of horse-training methodologies that foreground bodily modes of communication between horses and their human trainers (Cruise 2012:18). The 'bodily register' of écriture féminine is also connected to this theoretical grouping as a repurposed framework for revising notions of human logo-centric supremacy over animal beings. Further theoretical formulations that disregard preconceived conceptions of human and animal capacity, such as Actor Network Theory, are discussed in relation to this premise. Selected artworks from Cruise's 'The Alice Sequence' are analysed in relation to these theoretical paradigms, with the conclusion that Cruise's disarticulated use of text and image enacts the estrangement of logo-centric reason from physical interspecies ontology. This artistic dislodgement of certainty in the prerogative of language to enforce human superiority over non-human beings, places emphasis on the bodily presence of Cruise's sculptural animal figures, in an artistic echo of pre-linguistic modes of communication.
A material paradise : Reworking the Ghent Altarpiece in the Keiskamma Art Project's Creation Altarpiece : researchSource: De Arte 2013, pp 21 –45 (2013)More Less
The Keiskamma Art Project, an embroidery project in the village of Hamburg, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, has produced a number of large-scale works in needlework which are modelled on well-known art objects from the West. These include the Creation Altarpiece, now in the collection of the Unisa Art Gallery, which refers to the Ghent Altarpiece (1432) by Jan and (possibly) Hubert van Eyck. Unveiled at the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. George in Grahamstown in 2007, the Creation Altarpiece has subsequently been exhibited in not only art galleries but also, for example, the Cathedral of St. George the Martyr in Cape Town. While the Creation Altarpiece alludes to the Ghent Altarpiece in terms of its shape and aspects of its iconographical content, these areas of similarity actually emphasise differences between the two works. Such distinctions, it is suggested, stress that the frames of reference of the makers of the Creation Altarpiece are South African rather than European. Meaning is also, however, dependent on the context in which a work is read - a point made by exploring the kinds of associations and connotations the Creation Altarpiece acquired when viewed in the context of places of worship.
Author Alison KearneySource: De Arte 2013, pp 46 –62 (2013)More Less
The use of found objects is part of contemporary art-making practices, and can no longer be understood in terms of the anti-art gestures of the first decades of the 20th century. An approach to understanding this practice, which goes beyond an interpretation of the artworks as 'anti-art', is needed. One such approach is to focus on the changed ontology of the objects when they are embedded in the field of art. With critical reference to the use of found objects in Siopis' (2002) exhibition, 'Sympathetic Magic', this article explores the possibilities of meaning that arise from a shift in focus of found objects as 'anti-art', to a focus on the changed ontological status of the objects when included in the field of art. Recent anthropological discourse on the materiality of things provides a vantage point for unpacking the ontological status of the objects qua object. Danto's treatise on the transfiguration of the commonplace and Baxandall's discussion on 'exhibiting intention' are used to interrogate the objects' changed significance as art. I argue that the different treatment of objects in this series of installations demonstrates how the meaning objects have for us, changes when we encounter those objects differently.
Author James SeySource: De Arte 2013, pp 63 –65 (2013)More Less
In something of a coup for the Visual Culture Studies discipline within the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Pretoria (UP), Professor Nicholas Mirzoeff of New York University was the guest and leader of a colloquium hosted by Visual Culture Studies at UP, inspired by his work.
Author Claire RousellSource: De Arte 2013, pp 66 –71 (2013)More Less
'Collecting the Landscape' was Landi Raubenheimer's first solo exhibition. She used paper pulp, found objects, tapestry and photography to build a series of works that reflect on Johannesburg's streets and skylines. Originally from Bloemfontein, Raubenheimer explored her fascination with Johannesburg, her adopted home, through a modernist lens.
Author Chava CaplanSource: De Arte 2013, pp 72 –76 (2013)More Less
In her solo exhibition 'Just above the mantelpiece', Karin Preller has created a fantastic world of still-life images taken from photographs of an extensive collection of trinkets, dolls and curiosities collected, somewhat obsessively, by a friend. All the works are painted in oil on canvas, a traditional and humdrum medium in our world of new technology and postmodern open-endedness. However, it is through the play of painting against photography, colour against black and white, staged against unstaged scenes and busy versus quiet compositions that Preller creates depth of meaning and stimulates thoughts on composition, narrative, solitude and obsession.
'A cultural icon and a beacon of light in the inner city' : the role of the Friends of the Tatham Art Gallery (FOTAG), Pietermaritzburg, in ensuring the gallery's success : collecting and curatingAuthor Federico FreschiSource: De Arte 2013, pp 77 –88 (2013)More Less
Founded in 1903, the Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg is one of South Africa's earliest public art museums, predated by the establishment of similar institutions in Cape Town, Grahamstown and Durban. The early history of the museum is bound up with the character and personality of its founding patron, Mrs Ada Susan Tatham, wife of Frederic Spence Tatham, a Natal Supreme Court judge and parliamentarian. Mrs Tatham exercised her influence and social prominence in order to form a public collection of artworks for Pietermaritzburg, on the principle that, like Cape Town, Grahamstown and Durban before it, a worthy colonial city should follow the model of the metropole in providing morally and spiritually uplifting environments for its citizens. Indeed, as Brendan Bell (1994) notes, it is primarily 'the spiritual enlightenment of the citizens of Pietermaritzburg which underscored Mrs Tatham's pursuit of establishing a collection of artworks for the city', supported by her unwavering patriotism and 'belief in the notion of colonialism and Empire'.
Afropolis: City, media, art, Kerstin Pinther, Larissa Förster and Christian Hanussek, (Eds.) : book reviewAuthor Melinda SilvermanSource: De Arte 2013, pp 89 –92 (2013)More Less
Afropolis: City, media, art is a gigantic portmanteau of a book; halfway between those finely tooled leather trunks that colonial administrators packed before leaving for their postings, and those giant nylon woven bags - red, blue and white plaid, made in China - in which African street traders transport their wares. Part exhibition catalogue, part theoretical text, part artistic exploration, the book addresses the questions of the African city, ranging across the continent from north to south, east to west.
Author Gavin YoungeSource: De Arte 2013, pp 93 –95 (2013)More Less
This is a difficult book to review, because in many ways its subject is too participatory to set in type, no matter how 'moveable'. Kurgan's premise is that Yeoville is not a suburb of Johannesburg, but rather a temple of Africa - one that admits all itinerants, refugees and migratory people. Like her other public participatory projects (notably Park Pictures), Hotel Yeoville was expansive in scope, complex and more like a development project, as mounted by the European Union or African Union, than an art project. In her prefatory essay, 'A public variation on the theme of love', Alex Dodd explains this as a 'utopian attempt to bind a community through a kind of inventory of personal and collective relations' (p. 10). The project is remarkable on many levels (the project itself spread over three years, 2008-2010) and was evidenced by multiple and contingent elements: A research process, a website, and a public-participatory 'exhibition' comprising different booths offering different activities and, of course, this book. However, there was no 'hotel'.
Picturing change: Curating visual culture at post-apartheid universities, Brenda Schmahmann : book reviewAuthor Jeanne Van EedenSource: De Arte 2013, pp 96 –98 (2013)More Less
With this book, the experienced academic, Brenda Schmahmann, makes a considered addition to the growing discourse on South African art. Although at first sight one might think that the book deals with university art collections as such, it soon becomes clear that her intention is otherwise. Instead, Schmahmann turns her gaze on 'visual images in spaces within academia, such as libraries or council chambers, that are not structured specifically and primarily for the viewing of art' (p. 13). She thus mainly investigates artworks sited in semi-public and ceremonial spaces that play(ed) a significant role in buttressing the traditionally white male institutional culture of universities. A number of the examples in the book are taken from artworks commissioned by universities after the demise of apartheid, that speak to the fraught issue of transformation.
Author Annemi ConradieSource: De Arte 2013, pp 99 –101 (2013)More Less
The figure of a slender, silvery feline, more cheetah than alley-cat, has taken pause to glance backward in search of its pursuers, their tall arrows piercing the ground at its feet. 'Run run run for if they catch you they will kill you', the artist urges the majestic beast, its grace at odds with the grime, grit, noise and smells of its bustling, or sometimes deserted, urban surroundings. Painted in Woodstock, Cape Town, in 2009, the silver beast has now paused for approximately four years. Over the course of these four years the work has not remained unchanged: The paint that coats the wall, providing the background and primer to Faith 47's work, is flaking and peeling in large scrolls; marks, stains and scratches left in the wall by passers-by and others who pause for a smoke, for lunch, for a chat or a night's rest have added to the palimpsest that is street art. This is its power and its wealth - the reality that there is no telling for how much longer Faith 47's cautious cat will remain in recognisable form on its concrete canvas.
Siyazama: Art, AIDS and education in South Africa, Kate Wells, Marsha Macdowell, C. Kurt Dewhurst and Marit Dewhurst (Eds.) : book reviewSource: De Arte 2013, pp 102 –104 (2013)More Less
Siyazama: Art, AIDS and education in South Africa focuses on an art project in KwaZulu-Natal, run under the auspices of the Durban University of Technology (DUT), but which has also involved input from key partner institutions - amongst them the Michigan State Art Museum. Siyazama (isiZulu for 'we are trying') was initiated by Kate Wells in the late 1990s, in the department of Graphic Design at the ML Sultan Technikon (MLST) in Durban (later absorbed into DUT). Wells had been working with craftspeople in the Msinga region, and Siyazama was an endeavour to couple the development of works with enabling discourse and education about HIV/AIDS. In a context where women are not only in need of craft initiatives to enable them to earn a living, but where cultural norms result in their being unable to speak about sexuality with their partners, and where HIV-positive people are often stigmatised, the project has played an enormously valuable role in bringing together economic and health concerns.