SIGNIFIANT – Dr Stella Viljoen 18 – 28 Feb 2012

Signifiant
deur / by Dr Stella Viljoen

The ‘SIGNIFIANT’ exhibition offers a brief glimpse into some of the predictable and surprising ways in which female teenagers from diverse socio-economic contexts in South Africa image themselves and their environments through photography. The work exhibited is the result of a project conducted by Dr Stella Viljoen from the Department of Visual Art at Stellenbosch University in which a small sample group of teenage girls from two Stellenbosch high schools were given disposable cameras and asked to document themselves, their homes, friends, families and ‘nature’. The resultant images indicate the many ways in which contemporary youths wrestle with the visual construction of ‘self’.

For some, it is a struggle to disentangle themselves from the media-driven stereotypes of femininity as to-be-looked-at, as styled and performed for a demanding, ever-present camera. Theirs is a battle against the prescribed perfection of the picturesque, whether in terms of their homes, friends or themselves. For others the very idea of articulating themselves through a technologized media such as photography is frightening and may lead to an increased sense of dissonance with the technocratic society they have to function in. In the rare places where glossy magazines and Quixotic soaps are (almost) absent, the camera can be used to interpret and document the present rather than spin a compulsory, globalising aspiration.

Thus the body of photographic material that visualizes the South African imagined community is ultimately skewed, shaped, undermined, built and eroded by visual experience and this exhibition offers a small sample of the visual dialects employed in imaging self and imagining otherwise.

The show opens 11:00 on Saturday the 18 February 2012 at the Stellenbosch University Gallery (US Art Gallery) corner of Dorp and Bird Street, Stellenbosch.
The exhibition closes on 28 February 2012.
Gallery hours: Mondays to Fridays 09:00 – 17:00, Saturdays 09:00 to 13:00.
021 8083524 │ 3489

Die ‘SIGNIFIANT’ uitstalling bied ‘n vlugtige blik tot sommige voorspelbare en verrassende maniere waarop vroulike tieners van uiteenlopende sosio-ekonomiese kontekste in Suid-Afrika van hulself en hul omgewings beelde vorm deur middel van fotografie. Die werk wat uitgestal word, is die resultaat van ‘n projek deur dr. Stella Viljoen van die Departement van Visuele Kunste aan die Universiteit van Stellenbosch gelei, waar ‘n groep tienermeisies aan twee Stellenbosch-hoërskole weggooibare kameras ontvang het en gevra was om hulself te dokumenteer asook hul huise, vriende, familie en ‘natuur’. Die gevolglike beelde dui op die baie maniere waarop die hedendaagse jeug worstel met die visuele konstruksie van ‘self’.

Vir sommiges is dit ‘n stryd om hulself te onderskei van die media-gedrewe stereotipes van vroulikheid as om-na-te-kyk, as gestileerd en as ʼn vertoning voor en vir ʼn veeleisende, alomteenwoordige kamera. Hul bevind hulself dus in ‘n stryd teen die voorgeskrewe volmaaktheid van die skilderagtige, hetsy in terme van hulle huise, vriende of hulself. Vir ander is die idee van die artikulering van hulself deur middel van ‘n getegnologiseerde media soos fotografie skrikwekkend en kan lei tot ‘n verhoogde gevoel van onenigheid met die tegnokratiese samelewing waarin hul moet funksioneer. In die paar plekke waar glanstydskrifte en veridealiserende sepies (byna) afwesig is, kan die kamera gebruik word om eerder die huidige te interpreteer en te dokumenteer as om verpligte, globaliserende aspirasies te verbeeld.

So is die liggaam van fotografiese materiaal wat die Suid-Afrikaanse verbeelde gemeenskap visualiseer verwring, gevorm, ondermyn, gebou en verweer deur visuele ervaring. Hierdie uitstalling bied ʼn klein voorbeeld van die visuele dialekte wat werksaam is in die beeldvorming van ‘self’ en die verbeelde andersins.

Die vertoning begin 11:00 op Saterdag 18 Februarie 2012 by die Universiteit Stellenbosch Galery (US Kunsgalery) hoek van Dorp-en Birdstraat, Stellenbosch.
Die uitstalling sluit op 28 Februarie 2012.
Galery ure: Maandae tot Vrydae 09:00 – 17:00, Saterdae 09:00 tot 13:00.
021 8083524 │ 3489

Dr Stella Viljoen

Juria le Roux ELEGIE 1 Dec 2011 – 10 Jan 2012

ELEGIE

‘n uitstalling deur Juria le Roux

1 Desember 2011 – 10 Januarie 2012

‘n Tentoonstelling van vyftig of meer portretskilderye

Uit die duisende mense wat die afgelope jare in Suid-Afrika vermoor is, het ek ongeveer vyftig gekies en portrette van hulle gemaak.   Vyftig is volgens meeste bronne die minimum aantal mense wat in Suid-Afrika op ‘n daaglikse basis vermoor word, hoewel sekere bronne tot 150 mense per dag meld.
Die portrette poog om aan die afgestorwenes wat anonieme statistiek geword het, iets van hulle menslikheid en lewensenergie terug te gee.  Dit is ‘n huldeblyk, ook aan die duisende ander vermoordes wat nie uitgebeeld is nie.
Ek het telkens portrette gemaak wat die toeskouer aankyk, om die kyker te konfronteer met die lewenskragtigheid en individualiteit van die gestorwene. Maar ek is beperk deur verwysing na gepubliseerde foto’s, wat ‘n spesifieke venster bied op die geheel van ‘n mens en ‘n lewe. Die kyker wou gesien word, het geweet dat hy of sy afgeneem word, was bewus van sy of haar ver-beelding.    Die portrette is dus telkens ‘n inkyk op ‘n lewe uit ‘n baie spesifieke hoek.  Is dié oomblik en dié blik verteenwoordigend van die individu, of selfs akkuraat?  Kan ek weet? Maar hierdie enkele oomblik van inkyk poog om ten minste ‘n manier van onthou te wees.

Opening toespraak deur Chris Chameleon

Death is one of the conditions of life, an inseparable part of the package. There is nothing that one can do to escape it. Our fear of death is inherent and we dedicate much of our lives to avoiding it, deviating its threat and also to the delay of its unavoidable visit.

Death comes mostly in such a manner that one can see it approaching. You become ill, you suffer, you die. In a certain sense you never see it coming, because even though it is clearly on its way, mostly you do not want to see it; part of the mechanism of self preservation is to deny, to pretend not to see. Because disbelief is the belief that nothing will happen and belief gives strength and often swings the balance in your favour.

But then there is death that you do not see coming, death that comes too quickly. By this I mean instances like accidents. Or, in the case of this exhibition: murder.

What is murder? When do you kill an enemy in war and when do you commit murder? When do you commit a mercy killing and when do you murder? Is this a question of opinion? What is the defining factor? Murder is committed in many ways for many reasons. I do not believe that I can quickly, at an exhibition, provide a definition for something that law has struggled with since the earliest of times, but I think that it is safe to say that murder is the taking of another person’s life.

It is interesting that an animal cannot commit murder. When an animal kills another it is because they are competing for resources, for reproduction, or for food, or even revenge. Murder is a human thing, you have to be a human to commit murder. The difference between murder and killing is whether the one losing his life is a human or not.

Everything about murder cries out against our nature as human beings. I believe that society’s strong reaction against murder begins with the belief that to kill your own kind constitutes a communal suicide. By taking a life you kill a part of humankind, the binding factor of our shared humanity. An attack on our species.

In this exhibition the artist has chosen to paint fifty South African murder victims. It is also, according to certain sources the average murder rate per day in our beautiful, but extremely violent, country.

I would also like to mention that the statistics are unreliable, because they are strictly controlled and possibly edited by the authorities. A researcher or journalist does not have direct access to reported numbers/statistics at for example, police stations.

I did not question Juria about her motives, she can speak for herself and you can ask for yourself. I stand here present on my own interpretation.

I noticed that the images are vague when viewed from close up. They form a hardly discernable impression, but the more one stands back  from the paintings, the clearer they become. For me this is a particularly apt technique because these people are also very far removed from us in reality. We can only perceive them at a distance, through photographs, articles and our memories.

I have spoken to people here at the exhibition and some of them had personal ties with the victims. Through the witness they bear the paintings become more of a reality to me. We live in a world where murder and killing is often portrayed as entertainment. When a movie hero lets loose with his machine gun and 10 guys are killed with one spray of bullets, we often forget that each one of these persons represent a whole lifetime up to that instant; a family, a history. But their death is fast, unceremonious. Because of the murder rate in South Africa we are desensitised in the same manner, we lose the importance of death; the tears of the woman I saw earlier in the gallery in front of one of the paintings reminds me painfully of the reality and the fate of the victims and their next of kin.

Juria has chosen to depict the victims as living people, something which I am secretly relieved, because the viewing of 50 paintings of corpses is something I would rather not see. Maybe it would have been more effective. But as artist I know that we are mainly guided by our intentions, rather than sensation.

That being said, I do feel that a painting of a living person also shouts loud and the message is clearly conveyed. When you look at the faces in these portraits, you see yourself. You see someone with a family, a life, dreams, desires, fears, and vitality, just  like yourself.

You also see the huge waste of potential. Of people whose life was unexpectedly, prematurely, ended. People who had not yet fulfilled their whole potential. People who had not yet served their society and their families to the full. What unrealised treasures were still to be discovered in the potential of these people as living being

I myself was a victim of a murder attempt in 2004 and I only just escaped, with many injuries. Since then I have established myself as a Afrikaans speaking artist and when I think of the joy of life and love of my own family I have experienced in the past 6 years, I shudder within the context of this exhibition, as to how different things could have been.

I hope that this exhibition, apart from the artistic integrity thereof (I have long been a great supporter of Juria’s work and she did not have to invite me more than once to be here), will also become another voice in the growing choir which is daily calling on our authorities to do more to banish the evil of violence and the taking of life without regard. May they look into the eyes of these people and become more aware of the enormous loss of what is depicted here.

Finally, I would like to leave you with a little piece of  my own philosophy. I believe that we are all here on borrowed time. I believe that we, after all our years in this life, have not yet reached the end. I believe that there is no such thing as the end at all. For the families of these victims I would like to offer this belief as consolation; with the further thought that we are lent to each other, just to be temporarily separated and then, eventually, forever, reunited again.

The Bible is a clever book and as with many other scriptures you don’t have to necessarily believe in it to glean value out of its content. For the purpose of this event I would like to quote part of a verse of Corinthians, not only as consolation, but also as hope:

I Corinthians 15:55:

O death, where then your victory? Where then your sting?

Chris Chameleon

Opening speech for the exhibition ‘Elegie’ by Juria le Roux

(with vocal art by Helena Conradie)

US Art Gallery, Stellenbosch

12 December 2011

Opening address by Chris Chameleon

 

Christo Doherty BOS 12 May – 23 July 2011

BOS by Christo Doherty

12 May – 23 July 2011

More then twenty years have elapsed since the end of South Africa’s “Border War” but the memory of the conflict remains a festering wound in the national psyche. Although it was South Africa’s longest war, the savagery of the conflict was kept hidden from the public by stringent control of information, particularly images, which were censored to prevent public understanding of the extent of the war that South African forces waged across the Namibia/Angola border between 1966 and 1989. This exhibition investigates the memory of the South African “Border War” through the creation of “constructed photographs” based upon specific examples of photographic images from the media coverage of the time. These photographs are exhibited as a transactive intervention intended to challenge the growing public discourse around the memory and implications of the war. The exhibition explores the emotional consequences of the war for the young white conscripts who were sent to fight in a war that was never properly explained or justified to them and which many were never able to talk about subsequently. At the same time, the project also aims to develop a meditation on the possibilities of “constructed” photography as a complex and mediated art form in South Africa.

Documentary realism has dominated South African photography for decades; but these photographs investigate the power of constructed images for exploring the traumatic memory of the distant events that continue to resonate in South African experience.

The construction of these images was a collaborative effort that brought together a diverse group of creative individuals. The key contributors to the project were:
Tony Collins / Model and Landscape Construction
Stevin Henn / Military Vehicle Construction
Kate Blackman / Make Up
Michael Lewis / Studio Photography and Lighting
Vincent Truter / Graphic Design

Christo Doherty Flickr Page

Resolution Gallery

Exhibition images

Virtual walkabout

Christo Doherty - Bridge Crossing - from the exhibition BOS

 

 

Invitation / Uitnodiging: Origination

invite frontinvite back

Origination: Katy and Rebecca Beinhart

“Origination”

a project by Katy and Rebecca Beinart

In December 2009, sisters and artists Katy and Rebecca Beinart are embarking on a journey by ship, which retraces the route of their ancestors from Eastern Europe to South Africa. They will then be at Greatmore Studios in Cape Town and the University of Stellenbosch for a 3 month residency, investigating their personal cultural heritage and interweaving it with other’s stories.

“Origination emerged from our interest in genealogy, and family stories of migration.”

 On their arrival in Cape Town, they will use the residency to create a series of works, both site-based and gallery based, which build on the experiences of the journey.  They will explore physical sites of memory, recreating the thresholds of the homes their ancestors lived in, and the cultural traditions which they would have brought from Eastern Europe.

For the exhibition, a combination of gallery based work including drawing, photography and film will be on show, and there will also be live events and site-based work shown in conjunction.

Katy Beinart is an interdisciplinary artist whose work examines themes of history, identity and place. Her practice is research based and site-specific, often evolving through a participatory process. She trained as an architect, and is interested in readings of both built and natural environments.

Rebecca Beinart makes transportable artworks, live works, and interventions into public space. Her research often takes the form of journey-making, and her artwork draws from the unpredictability of encounters with people and places. Her live works create conversational spaces, in which audience-participants are as much the makers as the viewers of a piece.

Email:

katy@katybeinart.co.uk

rbeinart@hotmail.com

Project Blog:

http://www.a-n.co.uk/artists_talking/projects/single/520058

Artists websites:

http://www.katybeinart.co.uk/
www.axisweb.org/artist/katybeinart

http://www.axisweb.org/seWork.aspx?WORKID=70815

 Background info:

Over the past year and a half the artists have created works as part of this project including an exhibition and live events. For example,  ‘Dinner Party’ at the Ovada Gallery in Oxford was an intimate event for 12 people, where a meal of borscht and black bread was served.

The residency is funded by Arts Council England and supported by Greatmore Studios, Cape Town and the University of Stellenbosch.

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