SANAVA promotes visual arts, develops visual artists and furthers international cooperation in the field of the visual arts Newsletter Nº
November 2014
06
 
Dirkie's dialogue...

We live in a diverse world and almost every day of the year is a sacred day for someone, somewhere. Christmas and the December holiday season is an annually recurring period in many Western countries. It is a time we should reflect upon our blessings. Artists can make it a special time - Picasso believed that art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.

It is also the peak shopping season for the retail sector and Christmas decorations in South Africa sometimes still include reindeer and snow-covered fir-trees. When you see this and hear those awful Christmas pop classics, please do something! There are many indigenous South African carols we would rather hear.

At this time South Africa should be commemorating reconciliation and goodwill. Whether you will be celebrating Christmas, Bodhi Day, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year or Thanksgiving, SANAVA wishes all our members a joyful and blessed festive season.

Merry Kisimusi
Geseënde Kersfees
Sinifisela Ukhisimusi Omuhle
Matswalo a Morena a Mabotse
 
Department accepting proposals to fund arts sector

The Department of Arts and Culture is accepting proposals to fund work-streams in the arts sector for the Mzansi Golden Economy 2015-2016.

The project was launched in 2011 to ensure economic growth and prosperity in the arts, culture and heritage sector.

"The core mandate of the Department of Arts and Culture is to use the arts to contribute to job creation, skills development and encouraging economic self-reliance towards nation building and social cohesion," says Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

"The department's role is to create an enabling environment for the creative industries to flourish."

The department is accepting proposals for programmes in cultural events, touring ventures and public art. It takes into account the need for rapid review, processing and approval of small projects to ensure that Mzansi Golden Economy financing is responsive to sector needs. It is also developing a portal which will promote the work of artists and practitioners in the arts, culture and heritage sector.

The e-commerce platform will include information from both the supply and demand side of the supply chain to better connect artists with music promoters, craft retail shops, concert organisers, art galleries, exporters, as well as festival, fashion show and event organisers. Furthermore, it is planning helpdesks where role-players from the supply and demand side could be assisted in acquiring each other's goods and services.

For more information and guidelines visit www.dac.gov.za.
 
A democratisation of art

ISM SKISM – Mahala Nov 14

George Kirkinis / Images by CRNKYFRNK

A group of young artists from Durban and Cape Town recently took up residency in Clarens, a quaint little town in the Free State with a strong art heritage. They spent a week splashing paint liberally upon shebeens, Jojo tanks and walls alike, ending the renaissance with a gallery show. The crew's called Ism Skism, and it's coming to a town near you!

In the words of Michael Chabon, the world is "irretrievably broken".

Our childhood is a period of research, after the completion of which we emerge disillusioned, directionless and uncertain, wielding the different shards and pieces of the world we have inherited in each hand. Where we go and what we do from here varies from person to person - some settle amongst the shards and make them their home, some take the remnants and break them into further irreconcilable, jagged pieces, to be inherited later by the generations to come, and some try their hardest, with the tools that they have, to put the pieces back together. We call the latter classification 'artists'.
 
Go well Katinka

I was a colleague of Katinka Kempff during my first stint at the Pretoria Art Museum, from 1974. Katinka had not been widowed long and I also got to know her mother, sister and her many-talented daughter – all strong women from Dutch stock. In fact, Katinka had been born in Holland, but as a child moved to South Africa with her family.

Dr Abert Werth was the Director at the Pretoria Art Museum and Katinka the assistant director. I admired her self-confidence and fortitude. Whistling under her breath, she would march into the store room (she never dawdled), indicate the paintings and sculptures she wanted on display and we would get on with mounting an exhibition.

At that time Katinka was the editor of the museum's bulletin and she would compile the snippets for the publication from the wealth of glossy foreign art journals the museum still received in those days.

I was still a bachelor then and Katinka and I would often catch an art movie or music recital after work. She was fun, decisive, intelligent and much respected in art circles. Catharina Jacoba Kempff passed away on Saturday, 15 November 2014. She is mourned and sorely missed by her family and friends.

Dirkie Offringa
 
Eyesore

Mahala 14 November 14 Images via Art Times on Facebook.

"Did you see this Madiba shit they're putting up on Sea Point promenade?" read my girlfriend's instant message. I had to wipe my eyes looking at the event invite. It was eye-wateringly crass. The City of Cape Town was unveiling an "artistic tribute" to Nelson Mandela entitled Perceiving Freedom, in the form of a pair of wayfarer Ray-Ban sunglasses on a green space in one of the wealthiest parts of the city. The invite featured a Mandela quote and a picture of him wearing a pair of similar styled sunnies. A coterie of 'righteous' officials and representatives, including FW de Klerk – there is also a proposal to rename an arterial after him – and from the World Design Capital and Ray-Ban were in audience.

Not merely a puerile gesture at public art, Perceiving Freedom is a pathetic appropriation of commemoration as cover for a commercial promotion. Really, it's a stunning emetic trigger that suggests that Nelson Mandela is beckoning us from the afterlife to buy Ray-Ban sunglasses, to do our duty for reconciliation and nation-building by consuming this luxury product.

What an incredible opportunistic whitewashing of an iconic legacy. No wonder the unveiling is on the cusp of summer, and not a year before Mandela's passing. And is it not ironic that the marketing spin does not mention that Madiba's eyes were damaged while he was incarcerated on Robben Island, the result of dust and blinding light of years of working the lime-quarry.

Luckily Perceiving Freedom has clear and not rose-tinted lenses. It's oriented to face Robben Island. Michael Ellion, the artist, intended it to allude to Mandela's ruminations about freedom, and the viewers' lack of perception of 'the invisible barriers and prejudices' that still cloud their perspective. In other words, 'misperceptions' about race, class and gender can be overcome with a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses, rather than the hard work of interrogating one's privilege.

But this is not surprising. In South Africa, there's a growing idea that deep psycho-social problems that relate to the difficult past can be resolved through acts of consumption. And, often, sentiment overrides taste when it comes to the commodification of liberation history. The Robben Island Jewellery project shows that 'reconciliation' narrative can transmute the debris of even the most traumatic black histories into gold.

But maybe Perceiving Freedom is too 'higher concept' for me, 'too cerebral'. It's certainly far removed from Soft Walls, another work that engaged with belonging in the city. Michael Ellion had intended his piece to be "a testament to the power of the mind". Go look at his website. Even so, you cannot but notice his sunglasses concept is not original, since it bears strong resemblance to another in Denmark (thanks @Telemigo).

You may need sunglasses to approach this work. The promotional photos indicate that the majority of the dignitaries, beneficiaries and sponsors involved were white. Why such a significant lack of black participation? How did Michael Ellion land such a prime piece of exhibition real-estate, and how did he acquire sponsorship and or the endorsement of the city? Why do art publications like Art Times blindly endorse the project? This raises questions about the dominant tastemakers in the South African art world, and their interests in shaping what is considered appropriate public commemoration, especially in relation to the World Design Capital project.

You only have to look at Tokolos Stencils, a radical art collective, who have been mobilising the memory of Marikana through stencil art and by 'disrupting' colonial and apartheid statues. They have been branded vandals. But neither has the city made any effort to erect a Marikana memorial of its own, let alone one on the holy ground that is Sea-Point Promenade. Who really are the vandals here? What is appropriate tribute? Because all I see when I look at those sunglasses is the vandalism of Nelson Mandela's legacy and the spoiling of public space in Cape Town.

The article appeared in Mahala of 14 November 2014 and does not reflect the official viewpoint of SANAVA Matters. The artwork has generated much publicity. In promoting open communication, SANAVA Matters invites you to put forward your point of view. Tell us on ben@junxionpr.co.za.
 
Renowned artist Herman van Nazareth 2015 Woordfees artist

Since the day het set foot on South African soil, Herman van Nazareth's art was influenced by this country. Fifty years later he will be the 2015 Woordfees artist in Stellenbosch.

Van Nazareth is a South African artist - he studied here and contributed greatly to the development of a new and modern idiom in South African art. Despite his satirical commentary, he is not politically involved, but concerned with universal issues.

His work is represented in public art museums in the country, in many corporate and private collections, and he is included in the catalogues of national exhibitions. He has represented South Africa at international exhibitions and when not in Belgium, he feels at home at Jakkalsfontein on the sun bleached West Coast. His paintings and sculptures are formed in Africa - from our earth.

Activities at the Woordfees will include:
  • Sasol Art Museum - opening Friday, 6 March 2015, 18:30 for 19:00. Exhibition: 6 to 15 March.
  • Tour by Dirkie Offringa : 9 March 2015, 13:00 to 14:00 at the Sasol Art Museum. R50 at the door.
 
A spectacular SANAVA annual general meeting is being planned for 2015! Paternoster

To entice more members to attend the SANAVA Annual General Meeting next year, we have decided to select one of the most beautiful beaches, one of the most sought-after tourist destinations but at the same time one of the most tranquil and picturesque areas, as well as the very best cuisine in one of the oldest fishing villages on the West Coast of South Africa.

We are giving you plenty of warning so that your branch, together with family and friends, can plan a memorable holiday in Paternoster on the West Coast!

Talented artists live and work here, their painting, sculpture, pottery and photography on display at various galleries in the village. Foodies will be spoilt for choice with renowned chefs presiding over excellent restaurants, some right on the beach.

Imagine sunsets over the sea, long walks on the 8km long white sandy beach of Langstrand, seal and penguin watching, climbing the lighthouse for a panoramic view or when the weather turns cool, imagine evenings with braais and a glass of good red in front of fireplaces in all the cottages.

Surely you can fill a microbus with your members and friends and join us? Sharing the cost makes sense. A number of activities and special events are being planned, so do try to come.

The mayor of the West Coat District Municipality has already pledged support – we will keep you posted!
 
Cape Town members – apply now!

The AVA is a non-profit membership-based contemporary art gallery in Cape Town, exhibiting South African art in all media through changing four-weekly exhibitions.

AVA's Artreach Fund is aimed at broadening opportunities for visual artists by creating art making possibilities, by assisting visual artists with funding for their art-related needs. Material costs, exhibition expenses, studio rental, visual literacy and education programmes are among the bouquet of brilliance in the making that the AVA Artreach fund supports. The beauty of the Artreach fund is that it offers every art lover the opportunity to make a direct contribution to the development of the visual arts in South Africa. Visit the website and apply
 
Remaining relevant in Cape Town's art scene

"Nothing is permanent except change" – Heraclitus

Written by Mirac Rasch

Being raised by one of Cape Town's premier gallerists has granted me much (sometimes unnecessary) insight into the ever-evolving art world.

Being relevant and the even more arduous task of remaining relevant is not an easy feat - especially in such a dynamic South African art scene. Oscillating between the varying poles of popularity prohibits any form of permanent relevancy. The general consensus on relevant art is essentially what one makes of it and is purely subjective.

Relevant art should be able to relate to current affairs and simultaneously evoke emotion or thought. Banksy's graffiti, with sharp social and political wit, resonates deeply with students and has remained a dominant trend in the art world. Banksy's work can be seen as a reconstruction of pop culture with a social commentary.

Many students concede that graffiti remains their most relevant form of art - stemming partially from the illegality and rebellious nature of the art form. Graffiti has been criticised as being too juvenile and when attempting to emulate street graffiti in a gallery space, it loses its rebellious appeal. Or it can have a diametric effect as in the case of the Brundyn+ Gallery which tried to curate an exhibition featuring the Tokolos Stencil Collective. The Tokolos-stencils ultimately sabotaged the exhibition by tagging the exterior walls with "Bourgeois Gallery" and brought a portable toilet, filled with faeces, into the gallery space. Thus, forewarning to any prospective curators planning a graffiti series.

Students have revealed that they generally prefer pop art to conceptual art - which can be substantiated by the favourable local pop art market including successful art collective Avant Car Guard. Avant Car Guard has exhibited work both locally and internationally. Peet Pienaar's oeuvre is also wildly fascinating with provocative, vibrant and thought-evoking art. Both with his earlier art, exploring the fanatical and sometimes homo-erotic treatment of local rugby players and his recent Bruce Lee project which incorporates local musicians (such as Jack Parow and Francois van Coke) with a vibrant pop art flare - garnering a strong following.

There are two paths one can follow when trying to be relevant - either create new trends or emulate current trends. If the latter is more to your liking, then hopping on the #selfie bandwagon is almost inevitable. If you aren't up to date on pop culture, selfies are essentially photos you take of yourself, typically with envy-inducing backdrops and the odd Instagram filter. Selfie appreciation is bipolar - you either hate or love it, whichever the case, selfies have proven to be a resilient fad.

Taking photos on your smart phone has become so entrenched in our daily lives, so why not capitalise on that. You don't have to duplicate the selfie but for instance revive the bygone photo booth effect integrating smart phones and selfies.

In keeping with the selfie trend, the Table Mountain Yellow Frame project has also caught the eyes of iphonographers, snapping photos from prime locations in Cape Town with Table Mountain in the background. This is a fun and interactive art project incorporating aspects of Cape Town and makes it accessible to anyone with a camera.

Lorraine Loots has opted to create her own trend and has been making waves on Instagram with her 365 Postcards for Ants project, proving to be a successful venture. Taking somewhat mundane objects that one might normally take for granted and creating tiny artworks with such acute detail that one can be nothing but taken aback. Lorraine creates a new original artwork every single day for an entire year. I recently saw a friend in a remote farm in Montagu with Lorraine's mini-artworks as fridge magnets, purchased through Yuppiechef.com - illustrating the far-reaching appeal Lorraine's project has achieved.

Galleries and museums that merely exhibit conceptual art and are struggling to attract a student audience should consider revising their modus operandi. Consider broadening the spectrum to include pop art or anything more youthful and be vigilant of current trends. Most importantly is to be able to change and adapt, there is no place for rigidity in relevant art.
 
We would like to hear from you

Please forward information of your branch [and low-res pictures] to the SANAVA secretariat for inclusion in the newsletter.
 
SANAVA secretariat
Junxion Communications, e-mail ben@junxionpr.co.za, tel +27 82 551 4853, fax +27 86 615 4876