ART AFRICA met with the French-Tunisian graffiti artist EL SEED about his latest project 'Perception', the value of space in the workshop and the role of graffiti in the transition in Tunisia.
Il est important d'engendrer cette nouvelle génération qui construira l’avenir auquel nous aspirons tous. L’heure est venue pour une nouvelle révolution en Afrique. Et la seule arme que nous possédonspour mener cette révolution est notre cerveau, notre capacité à réfléchir. – Simon Njami
Simon Njami, célèbre intellectuel, critique et commissaire d’exposition, en collaboration avec lettera27, une fondation artistique à but non lucratif, souhaite inspirer une nouvelle génération de penseurs en Afrique à travers AtWork, un projet éducatif qui se sert du processus créatif pour stimuler la pensée critique chez les étudiants. Sous la direction d’artistes-mentors de renom, les étudiants participant à des ateliers collectifs d’une durée de trois à cinq semaines explorent un thème choisi qui leur permet de créer des rapports personnels et interculturels.
ART AFRICA s’est entretenu avec Sara Raza, Commissaire de Guggenheim UBS MAP pour le Moyen-Orient et l’Afrique du Nord – qui nous a apporté un éclairage sur son travail en tant que commissaire d’exposition et les pratiques artistiques contemporaines du Moyen-Orient, de l’Afrique du Nord et de la diaspora de la région.
I first met Betti-Sue Hertz in 2015 at the San Francisco Art Institute. As we awaited a talk by cultural practitioner William Cordova – someone I had worked closely with as an educator at MoCA Miami – I learned of the long collaborative history between the two practitioners. It was heartwarming to hear them catch up, talk about the first exhibition they’d done together and the excitement around Cordova’s recent visit to the Headlands Center for the Arts residency programme in the Bay Area, where Hertz was Interim Director of Programmes. It was this moment that reaffirmed for me the beauty inherent in art, for bringing different people together to share conversations, ideas, and form lifelong friendships.
‘Mastry,’ Kerry James Marshall’s survey exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, feels like a full-circle moment for the city, putting into sharp focus the stakes of the representation of bodies of colour.
Chicago is experiencing a steady rise in gun violence that may be related to the institutional chaos in the wake of the October 2015 release of a video showing the police shooting Laquan Macdonald, an unarmed black teen. The video of Macdonald’s murder was looped countless times on news stations and web platforms, an endless falling of a young, black male’s body: the image drew protestors out onto the streets.
“What if tech itself is the next big thing in the art world?,” Douglas Coupland wondered in a recent issue of e-Flux Journal. “What if tech itself is the Duchamp urinal in the twenty-first century Armory Show?”
“This is not about selling people crap they don’t need—it’s about communicating about artwork,” said artist and activist Dread Scott towards the end of a talk last Thursday on how artists should market themselves. Some 15 people had gathered at The Black Art Incubator in New York to hear the self-described revolutionary communist discuss the nitty-gritty of getting your work seen, understood, and, to some extent, sold. In the leadup to the talk, Scott had been in the headlines for his "A Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday" flag, which attracted both support and death threats. I’d interviewed him about the piece the day before, and as I listened to him give advice to the group, I realized I had unknowingly been on the receiving end of the tips and techniques he was now championing to other artists—availability, clarity of communication, and a navigable artist website among them.
I recently found myself at The Work Hub in Woodstock’s industrial area (Cape Town) with my fourteen-year-old daughter and her two sixteen-year-old friends. It was their idea that we see the second incarnation of ‘Strangers on Film,’ an ongoing project run by organisers and curators Aidan Tobias and Sarah Schumann.
With his deftly rendered paintings fusing digital textures with portraits of disappearing ethnic groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Congolese artist Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga emphasizes globalization’s modernizing effects on his home. His eponymous solo show, his first in the United Kingdom, which opened at London’s October Gallery in late June, highlights capitalism’s role in accelerating the disappearance of traditional cultures, including that of the DRC’s threatened northeastern Mangbetu people. But Kamuanga Ilunga’s debut here tells another story.
Following the resounding success of the PPC Imaginarium Awards 2015/16 - where a total of forty-seven regional finalists were selected to exhibit (compared to the previous year’s tally of twenty-one finalists), the official Call to Entry for the third edition of the awards is now live. Un-established artists and designers stand a chance to change their careers through financial support, recognition, mentorship and guidance by entering the PPC Imaginarium Awards 2016/17.
‘Senses of Time: Video and Film-Based Arts of Africa’ opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) on the 20th of December 2015. In an opportunity made possible only by the new realities of time-based media, the exhibition will appear simultaneously at two additional venues. It opened at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art on the 18th of May 2016, and at the Wellin Museum of Art in Clinton, NYC on the 10th September 2016. Each venue differs with the inclusion of an additional artist’s work. LACMA features six works of art by Berni Searle (South Africa), Moataz Nasr (Egypt), Theo Eshetu (Ethiopia), Sammy Baloji (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Yinka Shonibare MBE (Nigeria). To these, the Smithsonian will add South Africa’s Sue Williamson and the Wellin will add Jim Chuchu from Kenya.
Claude Chandler’s latest show, ‘Ways of Seeing’ (set to open in August 2016) bears a strong resemblance to the work he began with his solo exhibition ‘Binary Transcendence’ that took place at Worldart gallery in Cape Town in August 2015. Dabbling in the intangible realm of binary code and attempting to manifest through paint the digital lives we weave for ourselves daily, Chandler’s work explores the nature of creating identities, as well as the visual consumption of – the ‘ways of seeing’ – these identities that are simultaneously true and untrue.
On the 18th of January, Nigerian artist Jelili Atiku gave a performance dealing with domestic terrorism and abuses by the rich and powerful. Four days later he was arrested by armed officers; denied information and a phone-call and held until the following morning when he’d be charged in court. Five months later, the artist, as well as poet Adeola Goloba and five others regained their freedom as the Ejigbo Magistrate Court struck out all criminal charges instituted against them by the Nigerian Police.
Last month, Mary-Jane Darroll (former Curator of the Standard Bank Gallery and Corporate Collection) and Ruarc Peffers (recent Senior Art Specialist and auctioneer at Strauss & Co.) introduced their new auctioneering firm, Aspire Art Auctions, to the South African market. They are now pleased to introduce their partners; Emma Bedford and Jacqui Carney. This powerhouse of art specialists collectively offers in excess of eighty years’ experience in the art industry, and through Aspire Art Auctions intend to focus on the promotion of fine arts, both locally and abroad.
Dressed in black with glasses set before her eyes, Lerato Shadi is sitting on a four legged chair – body tranquil, legs crossed – her fingers moving and weaving from what looks like a red woolen ball – transforming it into what appears to be a red carpet. Lerato means ‘Love’ and no doubt she is using the colour red as a metaphor that drives her exhibition theme. ‘Noka Ya Bokamoso’ is a Tswana saying for ‘River Of The Future.’ This exhibition, curated by Joan Legalamitlwa, is effervescence of the live performance – and includes other mediums such as video installations and drawings.
In the coffee-table-canon of revered South African photographers, a few names regularly float to the surface: Goldblatt, Mthethwa, Oberholzer and so on. With the international recognition for his series ‘Drowning World,’ Gideon Mendel finally edges into their ranks. This year he’s been Shortlisted for the Prix Pictet, won the Jackson Pollock Award and Axis Gallery will host a solo show of his work at 1:54 London. Gordon Glyn-Jones discusses Mendel’s ‘Drowning World’ and his new series ‘Watermarks’ which breathes new life into flood damaged photographs.
At a glance, Seán Slemon’s new works at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery might seem a bit disconnected from each other: a trio of aquatints, a slanted ray of polished steel panels and two tree remnants covered in gold foil. One of the trees is suspended near the gallery entrance, more or less parallel to the floor, and makes such a grand impression that the rest might seem like afterthoughts. There is, however, a unifying logic to it, one that is enriched by the ambiguity of the content and optical tricks that Slemon plays in each individual work.
At the turn of the twentieth century, the Greek poet Constantine P. Cavafy was living in Alexandria, Egypt – then under British rule – when he penned a poem titled Waiting for the Barbarians (written in 1898, published in 1904). The poem’s subject is seemingly antiquarian – it invokes the edgling democracies of ancient Greece and Rome – but its political import was as relevant to Cavafy’s time as it is today. It tells of a despondent government that refuses to make progress, paralysed by anticipation of a fabled Barbarian invasion, which never happens. Cavafy muses on the causes and consequences of political inaction as well as the tendency for communities to self-define only in relation to a perceived ‘Other.’ “Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?” the narrator pleads, “Those people were a kind of solution.”
Over a year has passed since the Rhodes Must Fall (#RhodesMustFall) movement was incepted into the national psyche. Such has been the power of this student-led movement that it has come to define the very nature of contemporary political, socio-economic and cultural struggle.
With a fresh pool of young African artists significantly raising previous benchmarks, the adjudicators of this year's Barclay's L'Atelier competition have announced the winners in one of the most strongly contested editions of the annual contemporary art competition to-date.
Cape Town-based artist Paul Senyol has been working tirelessly on his latest body of work, which will be on show at the Turbine Art Fair (Johannesburg) between the 14th - 17th July. Inspired by colour, form, the built and natural environment, and Peter Doig, this series of paintings reflect his love for the medium, the creative process, and his plans for the future.
Held at the AVA Gallery in Cape Town, Janet Ranson's current exhibition, '_REALITY CHECK_' provides a sensory and intimate portrait of the artist's relation to the world-at-large. "Rescued natural debris, from South Africa's Karoo shrubs to Korean seaweed, are returned to the Long Gallery at the AVA as objects of interest, beauty and complexity," writes Cape Town-based artist Rose Gelderblom-Waddilove.
Inspired by urban architecture, Hugh Byrne’s latest body of work (which will be on show at the Turbine Art Fair (Johannesburg) from 14th - 17th July) uses painting and sculpture to elicit a sensory response to the subliminal effects of our built environment. “Through my art, I try to interpret and present observations of my surroundings, of things many people would consider to be mundane,” says Byrne, “but the point is not for viewers to be able to visualise the same cityscape or architectural elements that inspired me… If my art elicits some kind of emotional response, then I feel I have been successful.”
Myth, memory, folklore, history – all potent territories of intersection between truth and untruth. Can they be teased apart? Should they be? Is mythological-realism the ultimate love letter to the hybrid nature of our modern lives, constantly twisting and shape-shifting nebulously, on and on? The work of artist ruby onyinyechi amanze climbs directly into these spaces of ambiguity and revels in the freedom to play indefinitely, with form, character and place. ART AFRICA spoke to amanze about her practice, her personal myth making and what it means to her to be an ‘African’ artist today.
There has been a lot of talk recently about the representation of African artists abroad. In this interview we spoke to Californian artist Tahiti Pehrson about his recent two person exhibition 'Paths' at Salon91 in Cape Town (where his work was exhibited alongside the work of Andrzej Urbanski), as well as the body of work that he produced for the Turbine Art Fair, Johannesburg.
Strauss & Co have announced important appointments to its Board and team of art specialists, bolstering the legacy of founding managing director, Stephan Welz, who passed away at the end of last year.