• Writing

    Folklore as material and conceptual praxis

    The beautiful queen of the Wakambi, the peerless Marimba, was walking through the forest with her handmaidens on her way to the riverside to bathe her body in the cool waters. Birds sang in the trees overhead and the forest was heavy with the scent of thousands of flowering shrubs. Myriads of butterflies and colourful insects were fluttering in clouds…

  • Writing

    Lorena Gutierrez Camejo

    In her practice Lorena Gutiérrez Camejo incorporates varying media and creative strategies that articulate her experience of life in Cuba and, in particular, reflections on “power.” Power is peculiar concept, revealing itself in overt and obscure ways. Without being explicit or overstated, Gutiérrez Camejo’s work triangulates power relations, the position of the individual, and social relations in situations of the…

  • Writing

    Questions of Abjection in Two Paintings by Mxolisi “Dolla” Sapeta

    Mxolisi “Dolla” Sapeta was born the third child of four children in New Brighton, a township outside Port Elizabeth, on January 26 1967. At the age of six he would, after school as he waited for his older siblings to arrive and grant him access to the family home, draw on the gravel outside the house and this over time…

  • Writing

    Aesthetic and Other Priorities

    I am being sued by my new neighbour. New because I have just moved into an old complex in Goodwood. The neighbour is an elderly white woman who lives in the apartment below mine. She is chain smoker; the whole downstairs is consumed with tobacco fumes emanating from her permanently ajar front door. Occasionally she is standing in the doorframe,…

  • Review,  Writing

    Perched at the edge of Precarity: Simphiwe Ndzube’s ‘Becoming

    It’s taken me longer than usual to tie down my words and to begin to interpret Simphiwe Ndzube’s ‘Becoming’. Knowing Ndzube, and being familiar with the idiosyncrasies of his work, this could easily have been just a sweeping and endearing review. But how does one sweep and endear the residual objects of the societally effaced and the economically repressed as…

  • Review,  Writing

    A Special Exhibit of horror vacui : Moses Tladi at ISANG

    The Iziko South African National Gallery surely meant well when they conceived ‘Unearthing Moses Tladi’, aiming to reintroduce Tladi and his production over a 30 year period into South African art history. Unfortunately, the lifework of the talented Mr Tladi has instead been undermined by being huddled, in an attempt to ‘contextualise’ his practise, with that of his contemporaries. The…

  • Review,  Writing

    Nothing Wrong With Speaking Back

    Nothing Wrong with Speaking Back – Thoughts on an Exhibition While on any other given day the lumping of work by female artists, who happen to be black, into an exhibition thematically arranged around ‘narration’, could be read as an empowering practice. This time, as happenstance would have it, it also runs the risk of asserting overtones of primitivism and…

  • Writing

    The Search For Transcendence

    The creative and intellectual treatment of the experiences, conditions, and aspirations of black people never fit quiet neatly within the paradigms of ‘established’ disciplines and institutions. These paradigmatic negations form part of the fastidious exclusions and denials of the reality and totality of the black perspective and politics of any given moment. In order to fully appreciate the potentialities of…

  • Writing

    The Art of the Possible: Mawande Ka Zenzile

    The expectation, given the supposed establishment and progressive maturation of post-1994 democratic structures and systems in South Africa, is that grotesque violence should not be possible on the scale  that we are currently experiencing. Since 2004, South Africa has witnessed a series of fairly harrowing manifestations of racism, ones which we are regularly confronted with in the media. Rather than…

  • Writing

    Black Women in Art

    On Black women’s Creativity and the Future Imperfect: Thoughts, Propositions, Issues[1] Black female practitioners in the arts are fundamentally embedded in a context that has challenged their very right to exist, and the resulting absence of black women in art has been a self-evidential critique of this tendency in the discipline. Maria Lugones in “Toward a Decolonial Feminism” begins her essay thus:…

  • Writing

    A general distrust of language

    A word from everyday language, self-evident in literary studies, metaphorically used in anthropology, generalized in semiotics, ambivalently circulating in art history and film studies, and shunned in musicology, the concept of [insert own word here] seems to ask for trouble[1]. Foucault (1981) establishes in The Order of Things the difficulty and the precarious nature of the ‘human sciences’ and their…

  • Writing

    The Adequate Compensation for Suffering

    What should be the adequate compensation for suffering? The connections between this question, the late French philosopher Jacques Derrida’s Archive Fever (1995) and the South African transitional justice mechanisms of the mid-nineties are drawn, not least, by Derrida himself. During his lecture tour of South Africa in 1998, Derrida chose to focus on the aspect of forgiveness; fittingly so, as…

  • Writing

    The Negro Self Improvement Project

    Ellen Gallagher, a painter by training, works with “chaos as advertising” (Goodeve 2005:40). Her matter is specifically the magazine advertising directed at the black culture of the “Negro self-improvement” movement of the fifties and sixties (Goodeve 2005). In terms of commercial messages, issues of beauty seem to focus on body type, skin tone, hair texture, and the color of one’s skin is the least…

  • Writing

    Testing the Boundries of Tradition

    The physical and material inclusion of hair in art is a contemporary phenomenon and tests the boundaries of traditional art, the real hair in an art piece is an intrusion of reality into what is more comfortably viewed as a discrete art object. The inclusion of hair recalls human presence, social interactions, and physical mortality (Klayman 1998). Perhaps no contemporary black artist is…

  • Writing

    A Crazy Idea from Denmark

    March 3 2012 Transcript of informal Skype conversation with a group lead by Svend Lawaetz, Director of the Danish School of Media and Journalism. Conversation 2012

  • Writing

    The Audacity of Place and the Limits of Self-Representation

    This short paper is a measurable attempt to mediate the real and perceived gaps that locate Africa based artists to the peripheries. It asks where the opportunity for self-representation are, and looks at the engaged strategies of interpretative recovery that have the potential to demystify and delineate the zones of enunciation that are usually so fraught with gross misreading’s. In…

  • Writing

    Alienation in the work of Mxolisi Dolla Sapeta

    ABSTRACT: ART FROM THE TOWNSHIP When investigating art from the sociological point of view it is clear that we deal with several sets of interdependencies simultaneously, there is the interrelationship between the individual artist and his art, the interrelationship between the artist and his society and culture. Since these two sets of interrelationships are not mutually exclusive, they also exist…

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