Buhlebezwe Siwani, Cape Town-based artist and member of the iQhiya collective spoke to ART AFRICA about her practice, the relationship between the individual and the collective, and the deeply liminal subtext that surrounds her work.
Kemang Wa Lehulere has just been named the first South African to win the Deutsche Bank’s ‘Artist of the Year’ award for 2017, placing him alongside the likes of Wangechi Mutu, Yto Barrada and Basim Magdy.
On the anniversary of its independence day – the 6th of March – Ghana marked its growing cultural autonomy with the launch of Gallery 1957, its first commercial contemporary art space.
Last Saturday (9th April) Ana Teresa Fernandez, members of Border Arte and various community members took to painting out the Mexico/US border along Agua Prieta, Juarez, and Mexicali. This intervention forms the third 'Borrado La Frontera' intervention since 2011, a reaction to the physical and emotional divisions created by the border.
The art scene in the United Arab Emirates has seen unprecedented levels of growth, enstablishing this region as an important place in the global contemporary art market. This is particularly clear in the capital Abu Dhabi, as well as in Dubai and Sharjah. In just a couple of years, the UAE has become one of the must-see global art hubs. Impressive museums, galleries, art institutions and foundations are mushrooming. The scale of art commerce – gallery sales, auctions and direct studio sales – is noteworthy, however, the scene is certainly more sophisticated – and its history and development is more layered than what can be read in short Tweet-like statements.
‘CODE’ at The Mojo Gallery (Dubai) juxtaposes the work of Cheikhou Ba (Senegal) and Serwan Baran (Iraq), two artists hailing from different continents and living across cultures. The exhibition brings forth two antagonistic views of the world. Contiguous in their underlying meaning, this results in a creative dialogue about the mystique of life.
At the beginning of her speech, Zethu Matebeni thanked performer Khanyisile Mbongwa for making the podium a comfortable space, for the first time. The performance by Mbongwa, preceding this speech, was titled Umnikelo Oshisiwe (a burnt offering). It was comprised of chants, repetitions of parts of prayer, whistling, a song in Xhosa and the donning of traditional headdress coupled with a symbolic disrobing. Afterwards, Jay Pather described it as a troubled purification.
This sense of unearthing and purification with the aim of transforming criticality and opening up academia and the cultural sector is what characterized the launch of The Institute for Creative Arts (ICA) on Tuesday evening, 5th April 2016.
The relationship between politics and art is not new. A uniquely human endeavour, the scope of artistic practice extends into all fields, an impulse that jumps from one synapse to the next. If anything, art highlights the connections between things — their similarities, their contradictions, their feeling. If we can think it, we can communicate it, and, naturally, it is the things that affect us most that we feel the need to communicate. Provided we have a receptive, open platform, and a will to do so.
Amirah Tajdin is a film writer, director and co-founder of THIRTY SEVEN films. Currently based in Dubai, Tajdin’s work has received the Jury Special Mention awards at the Zanzibar International Film Festival and Film Africa London. Her co-directed short, Marea de Tierra (2015) premiered at the Cannes Director’s Fortnight as part of the Chile Factory Residency. She is currently writing her first feature film, Hawa Hawaii, set in the Swahili community of Mombasa, Kenya. Daniel Hewson spoke to Tajdin about her practice and the difficulty of independent filmmaking.
"Those who pursue art as a profession and aspire to a successful career are subject to coercion by the power and benevolence of the West into producing something that does not pose any threat to the structures of Western institutions and their philosophical underpinning," writes Valerie Kabov.
When it comes to communication, film is arguably one of the most universal mediums. Its universality is in the language – be it the visuals, soundtrack, dialogue, or a combination of these elements – which can speak to anyone, anywhere. These familiar, sensory moments reach beyond one’s conscious understanding of the world. They create a brief window of opportunity in which empathy thrives. An event like the Carthage Film Festival − which took place in Tunis between the 21st to the 28th November 2015 − brings together a wide variety of films from across the globe, providing a platform for local and visiting audiences, not only to engage alternative world views, but to recognise them and, perhaps, make them their own.
Saturday 2 April will see the opening of 'Bittersweet' [Agridoce, in Portuguese], an exhibition by South African artist Haroon Gunn-Salie at Galpão VB in Brasil. The idea for the solo exhibit came about through the artist’s interactions with people who were directly affected by last year’s disaster in Mariana, Brazil. Gunn-Salie’s project, composed of film, photography and installation, aims to tell the stories often covered up by mainstream state-owned media, offering the grassroots perspective of those affected.
Gender and race politics have an unprecedented pop-cultural presence and, as a result, there is a certain cynicism that accompanies hearing about an all-girl group-show called ‘Lush,’ which took place at SMAC Gallery in Stellenbosch. There is the suspicion of a feverish attempt at intersectionality, a bracing for the impact of thinly veiled tropes. Fortunately, these expectations have gone unsatisfied. Instead, ‘Lush’ embodied an evolution in how we consider female artists.
Are we too regional in our ideas about establishing self-sufficient art markets within the continent? Should we be embracing the sale of international artists locally? Leila Heller raises some important questions following the establishment of New York's Leila Heller Gallery in Dubai.
The fourth ACT | UJ Arts & Culture Conference took place between the 16th and 17th March 2016. Fay Jackson takes a look at some of the key points made over the course of the conference, their relevance within the broader South African context, and the ways in which such oppurtunities enable its participants to reach out beyond the confines of the event, eloquently summarised by keynote speaker Didintle Ntsie, “The first step is awareness, and the second is challenging ourselves to use our privilege in order to make a change.”
"I do think there are things in life that you must decide, but to be who you are is not a decision," says Nastio Mosquito to Nadine Botha, following the group exhibition 'Positions' at the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven.
On Friday the 18th of March the South African arts community bid a reluctant farewell to prominent protest artist, David Brown (1951 - 2016).
Pop Art (or pop culture – it’s hard to tell the difference these days) is everywhere. Its emblematic ubiquity is summed up by the golden arches: a crass, shiny, up-ended arse. And it’s a buzz-word Norman O’Flynn can’t stomach, writes cultural analyst and educator Ashraf Jamal.
It is hapless (and yet not possible) to write about South Africa without persistent references to racial grouping, legalised through the Group Areas Act of 1950, Immorality Amendment Act of 1957, Bantu Authorities Act of 1953 and Native Labour Act of 1953, among other laws and acts. These laws characterised apartheid and to avoid such references would be confusing and require a total distortion of historical realities. The title of veteran artist and arts writer Sue Williamson’s exhibition, ‘The Past Lies Ahead,’ at Goodman Gallery (Cape Town), suggests different types of chronicles.
It is with great sadness that we received the news about the death of Goethe-Institut stalwart Henrike Grohs, alongside seventeen others, in the recent act of violence at the Ivory Coast hotel, L'Etoile du Sud in Grand Bassam, just outside of the country’s economic capital of Abidjan.
Issues around motherhood and the female body are brought to the fore in curator Amanda Hunt's exhibition ‘A Constellation,’ which took place at the Studio Museum Harlem in NYC. These issues are as relevant today as they were for Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012), who depicted the experiences of African American women throughout her artistic lifetime, or in the material (and political) concerns as represented by Harlem-born artist and activist Faith Ringgold. In this interview participating artist Billie Zangewa spoke to Hunt, uncovering some of the challenges, processes and influences around her artistic practice and how this helps form her work within a contemporary context.
Journalist Layli Foroudi's article titled 'Art as Resistance' (you can read it in French here) focuses on the dark effects of dictatorships and Islamic extremism in countries like Mali, Tunisia, Iran and France through the prism of artistic practices used specifically as acts of defiance. This broad reaching article shows the irrepressible spirits of everyday survivors of horrendous acts of terrorism and institutional cruelty.
In the March issue of ART AFRICA, titled 'Looking Further North,' Laura Parry-Davies takes a look at the current exhibition by Newsha Tavakolian, 'i know why the rebel sings,' at the Prince Claus Fund Gallery in Amsterdam.
Siobhan Keam speaks to CIRCA gallery director Georgie Shields about the inaugural launch of the well-known Johannesburg-based gallery at their new premises in London. "I'm not interested in hushed tones," says Shields, "In an age of virtual reality and art Fairtigue, CIRCA reasserts the role of the gallery as a space to have dialogue with our community - in person... Art is about life, not about art."