De Arte - Volume 2015, Issue 92, 2015
Volumes & issues
Volume 2015, Issue 92, 2015
Author Bernadette Van HauteSource: De Arte 2015, pp 2 –3 (2015)More Less
In de arte 90 I announced that we would embark on an exciting development, namely the publication of themed issues. This issue is the first of that kind. Karen von Veh, who was tasked with managing the edition, identified the guest editors. They are Suzanne Human, Associate Professor in Art History and Image Studies and Director of the Postgraduate Programme of Film and Visual Media at the University of the Free State, and Annie van den Oever, Director of the Master's Programme in Film Studies in the Department of Arts, Culture and Media Studies, and Head of the Film Archive at the Rijksuniversiteit of Groningen. Annie is also Associated Researcher for Film at Paris 1, Panthéon Sorbonne, France, and Extraordinary Professor for Film and Visual Media at the Faculty of the Humanities, University of the Free State (UFS).
Source: De Arte 2015, pp 6 –9 (2015)More Less
This de arte accommodates a broader audience and gathers scholars from a wider variety of heritages and allegiances than usual. An array of voices is assembled here, springing from diverse South African, continental European and British institutions, and articulating a multiplicity of disciplinary approaches: continentally oriented image studies; Anglo-American-inspired visual culture studies; art history; film studies; and philosophical aesthetics. However diverse, the articles all point at the complexities, fragility, fluidity and ambivalences of imaging processes, often related to inter-racial understandings and crossovers between race and gender. In doing so, they resonate with Laura Mulvey's work and confirm its pertinence in an era of plurality and digital imaging.
Author Laura MulveySource: De Arte 2015 (2015)More Less
I was invited to the University of the Free State in July 2014 to receive an Honorary Doctorate and to attend the conference of the South African Visual Arts Historians (SAVAH). This was my first visit to South Africa, a country about which I knew little apart from the broad outline of the struggle against apartheid. I was welcomed with extraordinary generosity, and with stories, insights and anecdotes that vividly evoked the experience of a university in the process of social transition and conscious self-reinvention. The graduation ceremony was moving and inspiring; I felt as though I was witnessing the coming into being of post-democracy South Africa.
Author Anna Backman RogersSource: De Arte 2015, pp 11 –18 (2015)More Less
Laura Mulvey's work has always evinced a fascination with the still image. In her landmark article of 1975 on 'Visual pleasure and narrative cinema', she extrapolates the essence of what the female body denotes on screen as stillness. As a filmmaker, works such as Marilyn distil sensual corporeality and stardom into a series of minute gestures that reveal the heart of identity as performance. With the publication of her book Death 24 x a second in 2006, Mulvey once again made a timely intervention into academic discourse on the future of the film image and the nature of the cinematic medium from the perspective of the still image as signifier of death. This article sets forth that Mulvey's work is best read in light of her interest in stillness as the very basis of the cinematic. As such, Death 24 x a second is not only a study of the meaning of the digital image and an assessment of its analogue history, it is also a film philosophy: a manifesto of what it means to be captured on film, how film functions as archive and its very materiality as a series of static frames.
The image as trans-form and transformation : exploring 'the symptom' of aberrant images in District 9 (Neill Blomkamp, 2009) : researchAuthor Johanet KrielSource: De Arte 2015, pp 19 –33 (2015)More Less
Images of abnormalities and aberrations abound in visual culture, and these have recently enjoyed a growing scholarly interest. My article takes as its collective subject this kind of image. Specifically, I discuss Neill Blomkamp's blockbuster District 9 due to its abundance in aberration. Under the label 'aberrant image' I consider an array of previously described visual (and experiential) categories, namely the grotesque, abject, monstrous-feminine and uncanny, because of the characteristic way they destabilise viewers. My hypothesis is that they share a particular kind of image operation, a concept which I borrow from Hans Belting. In aberrant images, this operation incorporates both visual elements and their affects (here understood as emotional and physical sensations experienced by sentient beings). For this reason, I read how these images work and work on us in terms of Georges Didi-Huberman's phenomenological and psychoanalytical delineation of 'the symptom'; an 'incomprehensible sign' which both displays and dissimulates the process of figuration because it reveals the materiality of images. However, I aim to broaden Didi-Huberman's definition of representation with Belting's conceptualisation of the image as operation, by applying it to the cinematic medium and to aberrant images. Therefore, I adapt the concept of 'the symptom' to describe a broader kind of image operation whereby what the image represents is destabilising to the engendering of this image, so that it becomes a 'symptomatic image'.
Author Irene BronnerSource: De Arte 2015, pp 34 –49 (2015)More Less
Nomsa Dhlamini is variously a Swazi-born nonagenarian, performance artist Steven Cohen's frequent collaborator and 'muse', his childhood 'nanny' and his family's former domestic worker. Cradle of Humankind (2012) is the most recent of Steven Cohen's performances with Dhlamini, where, in four parts, the two characters walk (slowly) and talk (inaudibly) through a series of choreographed tableaux vivants that relate Cohen's story of human evolution, innovation and exploitation through and with a person with whom he demonstrably has a deeply emotional and surrogate maternal relationship. I focus in this article on the presence and participation of Dhlamini in a number of Cohen's other performances, and suggest how Cohen extends what may be called his self-othered representational strategies, which I demonstrate as being consistent in his performance work, to accentuate the fetishism of the figure of a black domestic worker and 'nanny'. Drawing on Mulvey's discussion of cultural, scopic fetishes, I suggest how Cohen acts out, with Dhlamini, the traumatic history of this fetish in ways that speak specifically to a South African context. I interpret this as playing out in two representational languages within the work. I frame the first 'language' by examining the critical response that repeatedly evokes Sarah Baartman as an apt analogy for Dhlamini, considering ways in which art practitioners and cultural commentators have drawn attention to Cohen's allegorising from repertoires of ethnographic, colonial and apartheid representations of black African women. I also examine briefly work by other practitioners, dancer-choreographer Nelisiwe Xaba and artist Penny Siopis. I then suggest that an emergent alternative to this fetishised analogy is expressed in the somatic rhythms, and in the choreographic and proprioceptive time that are created between the two performers.
Author Jessica Lindiwe DraperSource: De Arte 2015, pp 50 –67 (2015)More Less
The institutional violence of apartheid legislature homogenised what was in fact a remarkably diverse population into fixed categories, and resulted in what Richards (1991) refers to as the 'apartheid gaze'. This mythological quantification of race and culture is an heirloom of ideological whiteness. Given the complex dynamics of power and representation that haunt the socio-political climate of postapartheid South Africa, how might a white South African artist problematise whiteness in a way that allows for a cultural fluidity that runs counter to this gaze? This article identifies the strategies used by the white South African artist, Minnette Vári, to subvert her apparent whiteness and build a case for accessing a multiple identity that is African in its ability to be diverse. I argue that, rather than addressing established ideas of a sexual or maternal femininity, Vári's use of her own (usually naked) body attempts to expose her whiteness. In this way, she is less concerned with reclaiming the female body from the male gaze, than from the racialised gaze. I conclude that it is ultimately this use of her body that allows Vári to discuss issues of representation and belonging without falling into the ideological position of the coloniser.
Author Lieza LouwSource: De Arte 2015, pp 68 –81 (2015)More Less
Students and staff at the University of the Witwatersrand participated in anti-apartheid protests over a period of more than thirty years. In this article the researcher examines the construction of a documentary film, Shooting Sardines in a Barrel, using archival material and interviews with a selection of the activists. She examines the film in relation to the use of archival material in documentary films, the contextualisation and the integrity of these materials, and the impact of juxtaposing recordings from different eras and of variable technical quality. The researcher considers these aspects in the light of debates regarding historical and contemporary approaches to documentary filmmaking as a tool for expanding the archive.
Feminisms. Diversity, difference and multiplicity in contemporary film cultures, Laura Mulvey and Anna Backman Rogers, (Eds.) : book reviewSource: De Arte 2015, pp 82 –84 (2015)More Less
As part of the Key Debates series launched in 2010 (by editors Ian Christie, Dominique Chateau and Annie van den Oever), the latest addition to the series is Feminisms. Diversity, difference and multiplicity in contemporary film cultures - a volume edited by Laura Mulvey and Anna Backman Rogers. The volume takes stock of how concepts of feminism and film theory have shaped each other, paying particular attention to Mulvey's seminal essay 'Visual pleasure and narrative cinema', published in 1975. Since then, Mulvey's essay has become a manifesto for how feminism could engage with film. It is an entry point for feminist scholars who wish to start engaging with the premises of not only gender and psychoanalysis in film, but also dealing with how the gaze is constructed and embedded in gendered power relations.
African fashion, global style: Histories, innovation, and ideas you can wear, Victoria Rovine : book reviewAuthor Lisa AronsonSource: De Arte 2015, pp 85 –87 (2015)More Less
Victoria Rovine's new book, African fashion, global style, is the first comprehensive, book-length study of contemporary African fashion and its designers - and a welcome addition it is. The book builds on Rovine's previous published work on Bamana bogolan (mud cloth), and the role that Malian fashion designer Seydou Keita has played in bringing it into the global fashion market. In this, her new book, Rovine features Keita as one of at least sixteen fashion creators who bring African content to their fashions. Most are of African descent, and while not all regard themselves as fashion designers in the global sense, their clothing lines fit the commonly accepted definition of fashion, with its emphasis on 'change and innovation'.
Author Elizabeth RankinSource: De Arte 2015, pp 88 –91 (2015)More Less
Making art in Africa 1960-2010 does not present an argument about African art; rather it offers evidence. For the form it takes, after three short introductory essays by Polly Savage, Robert Loder and John Picton, is a series of first-person accounts based on interviews with more than sixty artists across the continent. The interviews provide the substance of the text, and they are as varied as the artists themselves. The only consistent elements are a few lines of biographical information at the beginning of each interview, together with the place and date, and the name of the interviewer. And each is accompanied by images of one or more of the artist's works, often with photographs of the artist and the workshop or studio context, and sometimes works by related artists, all in full colour.
Source: De Arte 2015, pp 92 –94 (2015)More Less
Mournfully entitled, Penny Siopis. Time and Again, this volume edited by Gerrit Olivier is dedicated to Siopis' late husband, Colin Richards. This is rightly so, for the whole book stands in memoriam: in memory of a beloved partner, in memory of the materiality of paint, and in reminiscence of the fleeting nature of things in themselves. The cover is filled with a close-up of Quake (2010), a representation of a woman quivering while burying her face in a handkerchief. As one opens the hefty volume one is confronted (rather immersed) with several large full-page colour detail prints of Siopis' work, the Melancholia close-up immediately recognisable amongst them, for who could forget those decadent fruits from the eighties? No one painted a watermelon with such 'luscious decay' (p. 29) as Siopis did. However, this volume is not only about decay but importantly about loss, mourning and the working through of grief. It also asks whether one can give form to (work through) the formless (grief, pain).