Exhibition statement: “As South Africa celebrates its 20th year of democracy, having made a peaceful transition from apartheid state to a new and more equitable dispensation, this show seeks to show a slice of South African existence through contemporary art. While it is in celebration of this milestone, the exhibition itself does not necessarily unpack the notion of democracy but rather looks across the scope of what it means to have been a South African over the last 20 years. The show thus explores issues of social conditions, like land issues, HIV/Aids and resistance art and juxtaposes these with more positive aspects like the Mandela years and the influence of traditional craft on contemporary South African art” – Appalachian State University.
These are experiments that that go along with practice based research articles as a means to explore visual responses to theoretical arguments.
The gifs are in a response to an article that looks at the use of the picturesque by colonial artists as a means of framing the foreign landscape and how such practices inform the relationship between notions of landscape vs.land
The gifs depict the action of seed-bombing, which is a form of guerrilla gardening, here enacted on the site of what was once Makwateng – an area of pre-apartheid forced removals, that is near where I currently live.
Seeing that my usual artistic practice engages with self-identity, I wanted to explore how I could put myself back into the landscape without enacting the role of the possessing agent.
The floral attacks are a way of re-introducing indigenous flora onto derelict land.I aim to revisit the sites in spring to see if any of the seeds sprouted.
I decided to use gif animations because it is a sequence of frames. The format is willfully square as opposed to ‘landscape’ or ‘portrait’.
SALON 1 is the pilot exhibition of a pop-up 19th century-style salon curated by Ann-Marie Tully and Andrea Rolfes, bringing together select groupings of emerging and established South African artists.
From 1725 the official art exhibitions organised by the organised by the French academy were held in the room called the Salon Carré in the Louvre, which became known simply as ‘The Salon’.
This exhibition which represents an artist-led and artist-centred premise revives the pre-white-cube experience of viewing art in tight knit groupings that prize the value of every inch of an exhibition venue, and present each work in dialogue and tension with other work (thematically and/or aesthetically)
SALON 1 previews between 2:00 and 16:00 on Friday 11 July 2014;
Join us to celebrate the opening on Saturday 12 July at 12:00.
The SALON is open between 10:00 and 16:00 Sunday 13 July & Monday 14 July.
Closes at 15:00 on Tuesday 15 July.
Photos: courtesy of Salon
Artwork: Dwang #6 – part of ‘BLEEK: photographic and audiovisual works 2010 – 2014′ at The Gallery, NWU Potchefstroom (artwork details: 40 cm diameter, digital print on 100% cotton artist paper, edition 10).
BLEEK encompasses a number of photographic series that sets out to interrogate the performance of white masculinity from different points of entry. Masochistic violence and self-interrogation are recurring themes in the body of work. I am is especially interested in the manner different traditions and contexts are embodied in particular power rituals.
The Dwang portraits in particular are informed by a personal childhood memory. Although ostensibly erotic these images conjure up the unpleasant experience of public medical examinations administered by state doctors that all pre-adolescent boys in state schools had to undergo during the 1980s. By replacing the model with an adult male I want to question issues of agency and complicity.
BLEEK: photographic & audiovisual works 2010 – 2014
Opening: 19:00, 27 March 2014, NWU Gallery, Potchefstroom.
Opening speaker: Dr Christi van der Westhuizen – author of White Power & the Rise and Fall of the National Party and a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Institute for Humanities in Africa (Huma), University of Cape Town
(Top: poster Bottom: invite)
“They picked out promising adolescents; they branded them, as with a red-hot iron, with the principles of Western culture; they stuffed their mouths full with high-sounding phrases, grand glutinous words that stuck to the teeth” – Sartre (1963:7).
As a child, growing up in Oudtshoorn, I can’t recall having an awareness of Culture. The town is endowed with many beautiful historical buildings and obviously has a rich history – but such things are taken for granted through the eyes of a child who doesn’t know any other place. In school we were taught local history like the origin of the town and its naming after Baron Pieter van Rheede van Oudtshoorn, who was appointed Governor of the Cape in 1772, but who died en route to Africa; and of the ostrich feather boom (but with no mention of the Jewish contributions in this regard). I also remember going on a school field trip to Arbeidsgenot, the home of the Afrikaans writer and poet C.J. Langenhoven. The house was musty and stuffy, but in the garden was the most wondrous thing – a glistening sundial that told the time by its relative position to the sun.
In 1983, the year before I was to leave the sleepy Little Karoo for the industrial heartland of South Africa (the Vaal Triangle), I was selected, along with three other boys from my school to attend Die Eerste Dinkskrum vir Afrikaner Jeug (The First Think Tank for Afrikaner Youth). Middle-aged men in brown suits with moustaches and thick-rimmed glasses told us about the rooi- and swartgevaar . In our small groups we were tasked to devise plans to fight communism and to protect the Republic. Soon afterwards the daily school routine would start with orchestrated searches for terrorists’ limpet mines hidden around every corner and/or in every dustbin. This was followed up with regular evacuation and security drills. At school, we were taught how to cower under desks in case of terrorist attacks and to always lie with your feet towards – and your head away – from an exploding hand grenade. I was 12 and suddenly the world had become a very dangerous place.
So, then, in 1984 I joined my mother and elder sister in Vanderbijlpark. They had just moved out of a semi-detached duplex into a three-bedroom house in the suitably named working class suburb of C.E.3. From our gate one could see Sharpeville. On 3 September of that same year this township would erupt in violence and terror after on-going demonstrations and stay-aways led to violent and bloody clashes with the police force. At night we would go to bed with music loud on cassette players , or with the radio turned on, to drown out the sounds of gunshots and screams. In the mornings all the children of the neighbourhood had to wait at their front gates to be collected by an armed gunman who would then escort us to school. In these army guarded schools we were fed the myths of Afrikaner Nationalism, constructed two generations earlier by Afrikaner male intelligentsia. We learned about jeugweerbaarheid (youth preparedness) and geestesweerbaarheid (spiritual preparedness). Satan incarnated, strangely, as communist ideology, joined the fray of dangers and through pop music he threatened to corrupt our minds and turn us against our country and our parents, and our race – it was a total onslaught.
I had been a promising adolescent, raised according to the principles of Western culture – or at least as much of a semblance there had remained of that after three centuries in Africa. Mine was an identity carefully constructed and policed by my elders. I could speak the language, but the words held no meaning, they left a bitter taste. They stuck like vomit to my teeth, to recall Sartre’s phrase. I fear that there are still many corners of my mind buried under the residual indoctrination. However, through my processes of art making I began to dismantle this strange heart of whiteness that I was made to bear.
This is an excerpt from a personal response to Sartre’s preface to Frantz Fanon’s Wretched Of The Earth upon re-reading the book earlier this year. The title of this piece refers to the line in which Sartre states that “…the European has only been able to become a man through creating slaves and monsters”.
“South African artist Richardt Strydom’s photography is beautiful to me – albeit it in a perverse, guilty kind of way. Through self-observation and re-positioning, his art challenges ideas of power, agency and complicity through analysing and dismantling notions of Afrikaner male identity…”
– Ang Lloyd from: