SANAVA promotes visual arts, develops visual artists and furthers international cooperation in the field of the visual arts Newsletter Nº
March 2015
09
 
Dirkie's dialogue...

I want to tell you about a new industry body which was created with the assistance of the Department of Arts and Culture. It was formed as a non-profit company to promote and develop the social interests of and create economic opportunities for the creative industries in South Africa.

The Cultural and Creative Industries Federation of South Africa (CCIFSA) encourages all South Africans to support the organisation - see the CCIFSA elective conference article below. Please visit its website www.ccifsa.org.za.

All the branch and affiliated members of SANAVA are cordially invited to send delegates to the 2015 Annual General Meeting to be held on 5 and 6 June at Paternoster on the West Coast.

Important issues on the SANAVA agenda will include fine-tuning the SANAVA constitution, creating benefits for affiliated members and funding resources. As a result of the demand from our members and depending on funding, SANAVA is considering presenting workshops on professional practice for artists, especially in smaller and rural centres. We wish to discuss this face-to-face with members and we are therefore hoping for a big convention. Naturally, a copy of the draft constitution, the agenda and the previous minutes will be forwarded to delegates in advance.

IMPORTANT: If your branch or affiliate is unable to attend the AGM, kindly mandate someone attending to vote on your behalf and inform SANAVA in writing.

We are not hearing from you! Do let SANAVA Matters know what is happening in your neck of the woods.

Kind regards
Dirkie Offringa
National President
 
We are proud to introduce the latest affiliated member to SANAVA!

The Stellenbosch Art Gallery is celebrating its coming of age in 2015. The gallery is situated at 34 Ryneveld Street - a street that is drenched in history, from the start of this town's existence. Located near the Stellenbosch University, within a stone's throw of the University of Stellenbosch Art Museum and among some of the best coffee shops and restaurants in town, this gallery is at the heart of local activity.

The gallery's Meyer Grobbelaar is known for walking the extra mile for his clients and many of them have been visiting the gallery for many years. He is a fount of advice and his website lists a number of handy rules for investing in art.

As with most modern art galleries, they also use their website as a medium to display fine artwork to local and international buyers. With a vast range of South African artists, styles and featuring many mediums such as ceramics, glassware, paintings and sculptures, there is guaranteed to be a piece for every discerning art collector.

When next in Stellenbosch be sure to pay the gallery a visit. Contact them on 021 887 8343, 076 279 2175, mjg@kingsley.co.za, www.stellenboschartgallery.com.
 
Four moods - sequence of stills from the animated installation "So much depends upon a stick in the mud"
Pretoria artist Diek Grobler at the Venice Biennale

The Venice Biennial has for over a century been one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world, and one of the most sought-after credentials on an artist's CV. Pretoria artist and filmmaker, Diek Grobler, managed to get himself to Venice at this event through his involvement with an extraordinary community of artists called Nine Dragon Heads.

The exhibition, Jump into the unknown, is an official collateral event of the 56th Venice Biennale, presented by Nine Dragon Heads, an international community of artists which explores and re-considers the relationship and equilibrium between people and the natural environment.

The group was established in 1995 by South-Korean artist Park Byoung-Uk. The collective presents exhibitions and events in places as varied as the Dae Chong lake in South Korea, Sarajevo, Chamagodo, Biel/Bien in Switzerland and now, the Venice Biennale. Grobler has exhibited twice before with the collective, which consists of artists from all the continents. He will be the only artist from Africa participating.

The focus of the group is on environments under duress, and in the exhibition artists will work with environmental themes specific to Venice.

Grobler's work for the exhibition is titled "So much depends upon a stick in the mud" and will consist of a series of ten endlessly looping animated films, presented on ten small individual screens to form an intimate multi-screen viewing station.

The animated films are created with different animation techniques, but mostly compiled from photographs of the 'channel markers' used to delineate the waterways across the lagoon around Venice, leading to and from the city.

By linking the photos into a video sequence, the wooden structures become animated and seem to be a living organism moving over the water. The films depict different routes in and out of the city, at different times of day, in different weather conditions. Some depict the marker from close-up, some from far off. One film focuses on the rotting of some of the legs, caked with mussels. One film is compiled of photographs from all over the city, of markers with gulls perched on them – by animating the photos, a single gull seems to be playfully hopping and bouncing all over the structure.

The idiomatic expression 'stick in the mud' refers to a person who is slow, old-fashioned, or unprogressive.

Venice, literally being built on 'sticks in the mud', and using 'sticks in the mud' to guide us in and out of the city, literally needs this idiomatic slowness – the stability, the unwillingness to move or change, for its functioning and survival.

The artist photographs hundreds of stable, unmoving 'sticks in the mud' and string these individual images together to create a film. Relying on their slight differences – the proof of their individuality - to create the illusion of movement, the artist creates the idea of the sticks as a single living creature, moving across the lagoon, walking on water. The concept of the stable, unmoving 'stick in the mud' is thus juxtaposed with the method of creating the artwork, which needs movement and change, instability in a sense.

"To me the city has become a deconstructed film, its separate, individual frames scattered across the lagoon. I attempt to put them together again so people can see the city for the living creature it is. I want people who have seen the films never to look at those channel markers again without seeing them move."

Jump into the unknown will open on 7 May 2015 in the Pallazzo Loredan, Venice.

Diek Grobler, diek@fopspeen.co.za, 082 374 7115, diek61.wix.com/diek-grobler
 
A new art gallery and art walk in Paternoster

Dianne Heesom-Green

SANAVA's newest branch is happy to announce the opening of another art gallery in Paternoster – the At Botha Art Gallery.

At the recent opening I was delighted by all the paintings by At Botha, his son Johan Botha and wife Annelize at the opening of their delightful gallery at the Rooyklip Centre in Paternoster.

Paternoster is setting itself up for an art walk, which will include artists such as Marlouw Walters, the Bothas, Raymond Hoggan, Theo Paul Vorster and the Stone Fish Gallery collection to name but a few.

A point of interest for artists and art lovers on the West Coast - Hanli of The Pumpkin House Gallery in Langebaan - hosts a new artist every month. The exhibition openings are always on the last Thursday of every month, which is easy on the memory and on the purse - good art, good wine and good company!
 
Have you booked for the SANAVA AGM in Paternoster on 5 and 6 June?

This unique fisherman's village in the Western Cape is pulling all stops to welcome SANAVA members for the AGM.

The Mayor of the Greater West Coast Municipality will officiate, individual artists and art studios are putting pen to paper to plan special pre- and post-AGM courses, world-renowned artist Herman van Nazareth - the 2015 Woordfees artist in Stellenbosch - has something up his sleeve to leave a SANAVA legacy to the children of Paternoster and the Paternoster Peoples' Partnership community programme will also be involved.

Accommodation booking agents Stay in Paternoster and Paternoster Rentals are partnering with SANAVA and are offering members special rates during this time – contact them now!

Furthermore, renowned Paternoster artists Dianne Heesom-Green, SANAVA Paternoster branch owner who runs the Stone Fish Gallery and At Botha who has just opened a gallery, will be offering pre- and post AGM courses. Contact them on 082 824 8917, dheesomgreen@gmail.com and 082 901 1353, atbothastudio@vodamail.co.za for your art course needs.

Please complete the attached attendance form and e-mail to ben@junxionpr.co.za.

Looking forward to welcoming you in Paternoster!
 
Aesthetica Art Prize 2015 is open

The Aesthetica Art Prize 2015 is now open for entries. The prize is a major event for established and emerging artists, now in its eighth year, and is awarded by the international art and culture publication Aesthetica Magazine.

It is a celebration of excellence in art from across the world and offers artists the opportunity to showcase their work to wider audiences and further their involvement in the international art world – and win £5000, a group show and editorial.

Prizes include -
  • £5 000 main prize courtesy of Hiscox
  • £1 000 student prize courtesy of Hiscox
  • Group exhibition in partnership with York Museums Trust
  • Publication in the Aesthetica Art Prize Anthology
  • Editorial in Aesthetica Magazine (186 000 readership worldwide)
Categories for entry are photographic and digital art, painting and drawing, three dimensional design and sculpture, as well as video, installation and performance.

Submissions close on 31 August 2015. Entry is £20 plus VAT (approximately ZAR 372.40).

To enter, visit www.aestheticamagazine.com/artprize

For more information contact Alexandra Beresford in New York on 0044 (0)1904 629 137, alexandra@aestheticamagazine.com.
 
Martin van Niekerk
Ben Rootman
Meet the SANAVA secretariat team

Junxion communications is the secretariat of SANAVA.

With its offices in Pretoria in Gauteng and Paternoster in the Western Cape, the secretariat is responsible for the communications, marketing and administration of the organisation. This includes daily operations, all communications with branches and affiliates, including SANAVA's electronic newsletter and the immediate communication channel SANAVA Now, communication with members regarding membership matters and bookings for the organisation's three studios at the Cité in Paris, France.

Martin van Niekerk completed the National Diploma in Public Relations at the former Technikon Pretoria in 1990, whereafter he worked for public relations consultants for three years.

He then joined the former South African Tourism Board where he was responsible for organisation's media programme and publications, and acted as spokesperson. He now has 23 years' experience in the tourism industry, specialising in public relations.

He served on the executive committee of the former Northern Transvaal branch of the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA) for three years. He holds a BA (Communications & Psychology) from Unisa.

He is an exco member of the National Press Club.

Ben Rootman was a journalist with the SABC responsible for radio news coverage and was political correspondent at the then Transvaal Provincial Council. Highlights were the Information Scandal, the Silverton bank heist and the 1978 Pretoria floods. He was nominated for an Artes award for the latter.

Then followed more than 20 years with the South African Post Office, responsible for media liaison, image building projects and budget management of the Post Office's communication division.

He is a past chairman of the National Press Club, past chairman of the Friends of the Pretoria Art Museum, member of the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa and a founder member of the Universal Postal Union's Communication Forum. He holds a BSc degree and an Honours degree in Psychology from the University of Pretoria.
 
CCIFSA elective conference: Chaos, 'bullying' and 'political agendas'

Marianne Thamm, Daily Maverick

Allegations of corruption, political interference and a lack of transparency as well as death threats, walk-outs and boycotts formed the dramatic and sometimes chaotic backdrop to what should have been an historic consultative and elective conference for the newly-established Cultural and Creative Industries Federation of South Africa (CCIFSA) in Bloemfontein recently.

Someone (it might have been Britain's famous left-wing playwright David Hare) once said that there are four ways of making sense of the world; politics, religion, sport and the arts – and the first three are unreliable. The observation is true, of course, only in societies where artists are able to function independently, free from political interference, coercion or patronage and where creators are enabled to serve as mirrors and the conscience of the citizenry.

Artists have always navigated precarious, dangerous spaces and there are many who have found themselves in the gutters of history, co-opted - often out of financial necessity, sometimes through blind ideological allegiance, out of fear, and occasionally driven by ego – by wily politicians who understand the power of culture and the arts in shaping the hearts and minds of a nation.

It was Joseph Stalin who in 1932 told a gathering of renowned writers summoned to the home of Maxim Gorky that they were "engineers of the soul" with a role much more important than even tanks and guns. It was their duty, Stalin told the writers, to produce literature in service to the Soviet political project.

If you thought the Soviets made life difficult for artists, pause momentarily to ponder how capitalism too has compromised many at the altar of nebulous "markets" and "popular taste". Writing on the commercial imperative of theatre, Hare opined: "When global capitalism fired up its engines, freed up its markets, kicked up a gear and assumed its historic destiny of infinitely enriching the rich, and further impoverishing the poor, then, for a while, culture stood on the kerb, like a vicar whose cassock had been splashed by a passing Maserati."

So, it is somewhere between speaking to and providing relevance for their audiences – the citizens – while sidestepping the demands and potential coercion by politicians and being splashed by a passing Maserati – that artists must find space to be true to themselves and their creative compulsions. That is, of course, if this is what drives them to create in the first instance.

South Africa's artistic community is notoriously divided, fractured and underfunded, and for years now there have been attempts at creating a coherent policy for this sector. For over 18 years the White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage, adopted by Cabinet in 1996, has gone through various iterations.

It is important to revisit briefly key issues to do with the White Paper as this provides a backdrop and perhaps perspective to the chaotic scenes that bedeviled the first consultative and elective conference for the Cultural and Creative Industries Federation of South Africa (CCIFSA) which took place amid death threats, boycotts and walk-outs at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein this week.

Playwright and cultural activist Mike van Graan has written extensively on how the original paper was drafted in wide consultation with the arts, culture and heritage sector, but that the current version is "substantially flawed" and "confused", has been created with little input "and appears to be the product of consultants who have very little understanding of and experience in the sector".

The most fundamental problem with the White Paper, says Van Graan, is that it is premised not on a vision for the arts, culture and heritage sector but rather on a political imperative to: "[develop] the cultural and creative industries and [increase] their contribution to addressing the country's triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality." The Paper also suggests that the industry foster "social cohesion, enhance nation building and contribute to economic growth and development."

While these were not ignoble goals, Van Graan has questioned whether these were the primary roles and function of the arts, culture and heritage sector and to what extent this sector could realistically contribute to such ideals. More importantly, he asks, should practitioners be obliged to do so "in exchange for state patronage?"

"The revised White Paper is also ideologically confused. On the one hand it emphasises the constitutional right to freedom of expression, on the other hand it states that final approval for funding decisions will be vested in the minister and deputy minister of arts and culture. There can be no better invitation to self censorship and the curbing of freedom of expression than this flagrant disavowal of the principle of arm's length funding advocated in the 1996 White Paper."

The idea for CCIFSA was born after a 2009 meeting between President Jacob Zuma and members of the cultural and creative industries. Afterwards the Department of Arts and Culture formed two task teams which developed a framework for a federation that will represent 12 identified sectors and 45-sub sectors in the industry. The federation will eventually consist of several elected board members, including a president, and that will represent the creative community "at a governmental, economic and societal level".

And of course CCIFSA is going to need a hefty budget which some estimate will be at least R150 million to set up, and a further R50 to R60 million a year to operate. It is a potentially nutritious feeding trough, which perhaps explains much of the "chaos" and the "political bullying" that exploded at what was meant to be a consultative conference involving the country's creative practitioners.

Before the consultative and elective conference was due to kick off, Van Graan, who was scheduled to deliver a keynote address, announced on Facebook that he would be withdrawing.

"There has been so much divisiveness, disorganisation and lack of transparency in the creation of CCIFSA, that it is difficult to see how it can play its role of unifying, organising and representing the sector."

Van Graan alerted the community that the more pressing challenge was the revision of the White Paper. The Department of Arts and Culture had briefed the parliamentary portfolio committee and was in the process of "ticking the 'consultation' boxes in at least four of the country's nine provinces."

"The creative sector itself though is largely uninformed about this document and its far-reaching implications, and has not begun to grapple with its flawed premises, poor logic, adverse implications for freedom of creative expression and its insidious linking of arts and culture with notions of national security! Rather than be bothering about a structure like CCIFSA (where form and structure appear to precede clarity of function), the creative sector needs to be far more concerned about a policy document that, if pushed through in its current form, will have a serious impact on our sector."

It has been the task of an interim committee – appointed in February 2014, chaired by singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka and with a budget of R5 million – to consult with members of the sector in all nine provinces ahead of this week's elective conference. But from the start CCIFSA (its logo coincidentally happens to be in ANC colours) has been beset with problems as industry members complained bitterly of a lack of transparency, poor communication and late invitations to consultative meetings.

But almost immediately, the conference in Bloemfontein was turned into a political spectacle as some delegates arrived, resplendent in ANC regalia and waving banners of preferred candidates for the powerful position of President. One such candidate was Eugene Mthethwa, former musician and Director of Trompies Entertainment (PTY) Ltd who took to the stage at some point as members of the interim committee lost control of the gathering.

Mthethwa's outdated profile, on Who's Who Southern Africa, describes him as "a top civil servant in President Jacob Zuma's government" and "current" position is listed as "Acting Director, Presidential Stakeholder Relations, Government of South Africa".

Ismail Mohammed, Director of the National Arts Festival, attended the first plenary and described what "could have been a major stride for the arts sector" as "a hotbed for agendas and petty politicking".

"On day one of the conference, the interim committee was so ill-equipped to facilitate the conference that the Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, had to intervene several times to rescue the conference from being derailed."

Mthethwa, he said, "showed his mettle when he listened to grievances from the floor, processed information and responded decisively each time affirming that it was up to the artists to take ownership of CCIFSA and to make it work."

In his speech to those gathered, the minister acknowledged that there had been problems and complaints about tight deadlines and the lack of consultation.

"But we all know that whatever the future of artists is going to be, it lies in the hands of artists themselves…It is either you are part of the problem or part of the solution. It is not up to government or any minister but to artists themselves to determine how CCIFSA will be structured, who will lead it or processes to be followed. We will play an oversight role."

It was, he added, up to the various stakeholders in the cultural and creative industries "to define the vision that you desire to give birth to at this inaugural elective conference. We are not looking at you trying to please us as the government, but to work together as equal partners in our aim to uphold and promote a creative and cultural industry that is inclusive and participatory."

And while the minister might have set out his department and government's attitude and vision for CCIFSA, Ismail wrote that it was the delegates themselves – with such high stakes – who had been "devious" and who had "cheated". There were also major flaws in how provincial lists had been constituted with each province allocated 60 delegates "on the stupid assumption that the creative and cultural industries are homogenously spread out through the country."

Ismail added:

"Deviousness and cheating was quite evident in how the provincial lists were compiled. The Free State province was a stark example of how political lobbying and greed was engineered to undermine the conference. Two members of the interim committee who have been gunning for key positions mobilised their own supporters and hence the delegate list for the Free State exceeded the designated sixty participants. The only province that seemed to have got its house in order according to specifications provided was KZN."

On the second day Ismail said the interim committee could not account for how it had spent its allocated R5 million, an issue that is crucial:

"In a sector where artists and arts organisations are constantly holding out the begging bowl, R5 million is not an amount to be sneezed at. The newly elected members of the Federation will be controlling far more than R5 million, so the reason for the conniving and backroom jockeying for positions on the new Board of CCIFSA committee becomes so much clearer, especially when the interim committee seems to have the balls to convene a general conference without putting the tabling of its audited financial statements on the agenda."

Wits Theatre director, Gita Pather, had walked out of the conference after taking to the microphone to lambast the interim committee and saying that the conference was attempting "to legitimise its year long operations by convening a shabbily-structured conference flaunting several regulations of the Companies Act under which CCIFSA was registered."

Pather later wrote on Facebook that she had found herself in many "difficult positions as an artist" but that her experience at the conference "was memorable in that for the first time, I watched naked avarice, greed, ignorance and arrogance come together in an arts event. Before we have argued, debated issues, locked horns, agreed to disagree, but never have [I] seen this kind of unmasked ambition posturing as a love for the arts. It was a political meeting ...complete with opposing groups, fudged enrollment papers, people posing as others, revolutionary songs and political rhetoric that had no place there since it wasn't a 'comradely' use of the word 'comrade' but a warning to toe the line."

For now, those artists who are deeply dissatisfied with the turn of events at the CCIFSA conference are regrouping. Pather has announced that she is willing to spearhead a movement to address all the major issues and that the CCIFSA conference was merely a "symptom of a far more insidious move by government to control the arts."

She added:

"The current draft of the White Paper needs to be opposed for a whole variety of reasons, and we need to find a way to do so quickly. We need to create a loose body that can coordinate communication, ensure documents are circulated and prepare for a larger gathering. We don't need R5 million, just the will to act together and understand that we have reached a tipping point...what I saw yesterday made me understand that the tentacles of government are reaching into civil society and hijacking and appropriating discourse.

"Our problems are not a corrupt interim committee gunning for power...there will always be sell-outs. Our problem is wresting back control of our own futures, our artistic practice and to craft our own vision for ourselves and the arts."

What is your take on CCIFSA? Please let us know and we will give feedback to the Minister of Arts and Culture. E-mail your comments to ben@junxionpr.co.za.
 
Kite aerial photography

Catherine Schenck

The first aerial photo was taken from a hot-air balloon in 1858, and soon even kites were roped in to photograph landscapes from above.

Kite aerial photography – let's call in KAP - was primarily used as part of reconnaissance strategies into World War I, but aeroplanes slowly took over, covering expansive areas on a larger scale over a shorter time period than kites. Thus kites were handed to children as playthings and remained there until the 1980s when a KAP renaissance took place and old toys were dusted off for real work. Realising the potential for data-gathering, archaeologists joined in.

As postgraduate students in archaeology, we often get assigned odd jobs during fieldwork projects. For this year's field season at the mid-Pleistocene site Elandsfontein in the Western Cape, the project leader, Dave Braun, handed me and a colleague a kite and told us to photograph the excavation sites. The last time either of us flew a kite was in primary school.

The aerial photographs obtained through KAP can be used for photogrammetry and to create digital elevation models, where single photos are stitched together stereoscopically. This enables us to understand a site's layout and topology better. This information is greatly significant, seeing as spatially understanding a site aids in finding out what happened there (and is still happening there in terms of preservation and deposit), and how objects are related to each other and the site itself.

KAP isn't an exact science (it's not even a science), but here are the basics. The most stable kites for photography are a delta for low winds, a Rokkaku for medium winds, a parafoil for stronger gusts, and box kites for high winds.

We used a "point-and-shoot" 16 megapixel camera (DSLRs also work), and we used the time-lapse function to take pictures every ten seconds. This means that we could cover the entire site, photographing smaller sections, which we would then stitch together later using software such as Agisoft Photoscan.

The camera is attached to a lightweight frame – we used a "Brooxe's Box" - that is suspended from a system of cords which clips onto the kite string. The frame also allows you to adjust the angle of the camera, which enables either oblique or vertical photos. As soon as the camera is attached, the kite can be let fly as high as the string allows it, and for as long as its battery survives.

KAP may sound like it is time-consuming and a lot of footwork, but it is easier to photograph small-scale sites in detail with kites than it is with aeroplanes. Kites cost a fraction of the price of drones and aeroplanes - a kite, frame, and (albeit cheap) camera cost us almost a tenth of the price of an inexpensive drone. Furthermore, they are easier to transport and (dis)assemble, and they need neither fuel nor electricity to be operated – only a breeze.

KAP might therefore be a useful, cost-effective and fun (given you are patient) option for land artists and sculptors to document their work and for providing interesting perspectives for photographers, especially when taking architectural photographs.
 
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