CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS FROM SOUTH AFRICA
Hobbs & Neustetter | James Webb
Video Screenings by:
Bridget Baker | Robyn Nesbitt & Nina Barnett | Eduardo Cachucho | Hasan & Husain Essop | Nadine Hutton | Bongani Khoza | Donna Kukama |
Jessica Gregory & Zen Marie | Nandipha Mntambo | Bernie Searle
Produced and curated by BEK Bergen Centre for Electronic Arts – Maur Prosjekter / Maia Urstad – Kunsthall 3,14
In collaboration with Artist in Residence // USF Verftet Bergen, and ISIS Arts Newcastle
04.06. - 08.08.10
This exhibition has two parts, bringing together a variety of practices by South African artists. The first part sees two site‐specific projects produced in Austevoll and Bergen respectively. The second part is a screening of 11 video works.
James Webb has chosen to engage with Bergen’s diverse religious communities. Prayer is a multi‐channel sound installation comprising of prayers from all the religions practiced in Bergen. Webb researched the many groups and met with them to make personal audio recordings of prayer that would be representative of their respective faiths. Broadcast from 12 floor‐based speakers, the artwork allows listeners to wander through the installation listening to the many sounds as a whole or kneel down and listen to each voice intimately.
Hobbs/Neustetter's sustained preoccupation with connectivity and communication in site specific situations, finds them regressing to a time when Norway's islands were connected less by bridges and more by good faith. Hence the artist’s most current mapping project involves traversing a group of islands in Austevoll, located south‐west of Bergen. Their resultant 6 day camping, hiking and boating exercise served as the artist’s means of encountering and collecting particular experiences pertaining to the right of access. Hobbs/Neustetter’s installation Depth Threats is a reflection on the constant state of measuring that the artists encountered as they read sea maps, deciphered land masses and negotiated often shallow rocky waters in Austevoll.
The exhibition received support from Arts Council Norway, Bergen kommune and OCA - Office for Contemporary Art Norway.
Presentations and talk with Stephen Hobbs, Marcus Neustetter and James Webb.
"There Are Far Too Few Friday Nights Left In The World"
As part of the exhibition, "Contemporary Artists from South Africa," James Webb invites you to join him for a walk. Taking the form of an open-ended stroll around Bergen and its environs, and including whatever conversation you may wish to engage in, these sessions are designed as an antidote to conventional workshop scenarios. Sessions can accommodate up to 3 people at a time, and can last from 30 to 90-minutes, 10am - midnight.
For a separate project, over the next 10-days, Webb is making audio recordings of people recounting dreams they have had. If you would like to participate in this, please make contact via the phone num ber listed above so that a suitable time and venue can be arranged for the recording.
James Webb's time in Bergen has been made possible with the kind support of: BEK, Maur Prosjekter, Kunsthall 3,14 and USF Verftet.
- Review in BT -->
- Exhibition catalog -->
- Prayer map by James Webb -->
Bridget Baker - Steglitz House
Steglitz House was ﬁlmed in a miniature construction of a 1930s West Berlin suburban home. Considering the imminent collapse of domestic sanctuary in pre-WWII Germany, Baker creates an ambiguous narrative by overlaying auto-biographical mythologies in the space which reﬂects a threat to the calm in Baker’s family home in South Africa when her father died in 1977.
Sound design by Braam du Toit.
Time: 9min - (2009-10)
Eduardo Cachucho - Water
A man dreams of drowning in ‘himself’. His own bodily ﬂuids have overtaken his body. Like a nightmare he tries to wake up but has no way of doing so. He must succumb to the fate his body has placed him in. As water gushes out of every oriﬁce he thrashes-about trying to dislodge himself from his reality.
Time: 1:53min - (2008)
Hasan & Husain Essop - Visiting the Revolution
Through this work the artists explore with the role of the individual in society, in particular the space that Muslim youth negotiate in a secular environment.
In Islam, the rendering of the human form is considered haraam or forbidden, and the artists are careful about limiting this representation to their own bodies and assuming responsibility for it. They are not interested in making objective statements - the questions they ask are personal and intimate, and they perform these questions, and the search for answers, with their own bodies. The work occupies a space fraught with tensions, between documentation and narrative, between the spontaneous and the staged and between overt expression and what is left unsaid.
Time: 3:10min - (2010)
Nadine Hutton - Ignore Me
How often have your deliberately locked your eyes forward to avoid the person trying to catch your eye at a trafﬁc light? This is their story.
Time: 2:29min - (2009)
Bongani Khoza - In Transit
In Transit compares human interaction and dialogue between one’s personal or private space with the individual decision to transgress these imaginary boundaries. Metro-rail coaches no. 6 and 7 are the common meeting places for a particular type of religious congregation. Mafakude is a single mother who despite the hardship of being a domestic worker turns her situation around, focuses on the positive, and spreads the gospel by preaching to others on her journey to and from work everyday. Khoza was allowed to ﬁlm her sermons as well as interview her at home.
Video Interview 12:14 min. / Video “In The Train” 11:43 min. - (2007)
Donna Kukama - The Swing (after after Fragonard)
The Swing (after after Fragonard) was developed out of an intervention that took place at the Mai-Mai Market in the east end of the inner city of Johannesburg. The market mainly trades in traditional medicine, and includes a cooking and eating area where fresh meat is prepared for a clientele of taxi-drivers and people that work in the ‘second economy’ of the east end of the inner city. The work forms part of a series of interventions staged by the artist that revolve around a particular gesture drawn from archival research conducted by her, which then accumulates new and often troubling reference through strategic reconﬁguration and redeployment. In this case, the painting The Swing (1766) by Jean-Honore Fragonard - an emblem of Ancien Regime frivolity in the shadow of the impending French Revolution - served as a point of departure for the piece. The artwork was also developed in dialogue with Yinka Shonibare’s 2001 sculptural response to the same image. The video combines a slowed-down version of the public intervention layered with fragments of sounds of muttering in French and Setswana proverbs.
Single channel Video Projection 4min54sec colour, sounddimensions variable. - (2009)
Courtesy of the artist and Blank Projects, Cape Town.
Jessica Gregory & Zen Marie - The Perfect Leader
The Perfect Leader is a short ﬁlm that questions political leadership. Speciﬁcally, the ﬁlm addresses the controversial dyna-mics of the leader as a person, a human being with dreams and desires but also a human with faults.
In part, the ﬁlm pays homage to Jorgen Leth’s The Perfect Human (1967), which is a surreal and (subtly) cynical look at the idea of a perfect human. The ﬁlm updates Jorgen Leth’s original and uses it as a vehicle to pose questions about the cult of the individual that is dominant in contemporary leadership practices. Taking both formal and conceptual cues from this iconic ﬁlm, The Perfect Leader addresses leadership as an ambiguous and problematic space. The Perfect Leader dissects the physical body of the leader (played by Darius Rasekhula) as it asks the audience to reconsider what leadership means. Besides being relevant to a contemporary critique of political governance, the ﬁlm is a meditation on leadership as space that is paradoxically both private and public.
Time: 4:31min - (2009)
Nandipha Mntambo - Ukungenisa
Fascinated by the ritualised action, public spectacle and charged emotion of the bullﬁght, Mntambo describes the project as ‘the practice of my future’, a tentative ‘feeling out’ of the territory. The video, Ukungenisa (indicating the mental and physical preparation for a ﬁght, and the opening of a path to allow something to happen), captures the artist liter-ally rehearsing the steps of a bullﬁghter whom she ﬁlmed in Lisbon, juxtaposed with footage of the ﬁght and the crowd of spectators. This attempt to take on the persona of the bull-ﬁghter represents a shift for Mntambo, whose previous work effectively invited the viewer to take her place, to step into the outline of her body as deﬁned by the moulded cowhide.
In the course of the project Mntambo envisages being trained as a bullﬁghter and staging her own ﬁght in the abandoned Praça de Touros in Maputo, the arena where black Mozambicans once fought for the entertainment of the colonial Portuguese. To this end she has made herself a bullﬁghter’s jacket from her signature cowhide, a means to ‘interpret and take ownership of the tradition’. The title of this work, Inftombi mfana,means ‘tomboy’, or a girl taking on a male persona. The cows’ ears that form the rear of the jacket introduce the idea of an imaginary crowd bearing witness to her perform-ance.
Time: 2:30min - (2008)
Robyn Nesbitt & Nina Barnett - Warcry
A school warcry is a South African high school tradition, a chant that expresses the energy and strength held in the organism of the school. The pulsing sound of hundreds of school children shouting in unison is exhilarating, both for the performing students and for those witnessing it. In this dual screen video installation, two schools perform their warcy at each other – the combined roar fearsome and thrilling. The polarities of the school groups are clear in their gender, uniform colour and performance style. The boys perform in a ﬁerce, combative manner, the girls are more playful and joyous in their expression.
This installation evokes the exceptional qualities of large group action. It is vigorous, dynamic and ultimately celebra-tory. It brings to light the peculiar, singular tradition of warcries that permeates the South African school system.
Time: 2 videos 0.40min. Dual Screen Video Projection - (2008)
Berni Searle - Gateway
Gateway is the second of a trilogy of videos which forms part of the ‘Black smoke rising’ series. This series was conceived at a time of a growing and pervasive ‘air of discon-tent’ in South Africa, which has recently been beset by union protests and mass demonstrations against poor service delivery and the lack of the provision of housing. Frustrations and levels of desperation continue to grow, creating simmer-ing tensions that have the potential to erupt.
Time: 4min. - (2010)
- Beware the Curves
Beware the Curves, an hour long animated ﬁlm, is a tale of good and bad in South Africa. Loud, darkly humorous, graphic and confrontational, the stop-animation lurches and ﬂashes, pulling out numerous simple conventions to depict action, movement and narrative. Using a ﬁlm-noir voice and a severely disjointed dialogue, Beware the Curves relates to the trials and tribulations of an odd assortment of protagonists. The video is absurd, tragic and convoluted.
Video animation. Duration 1 hour 35 sec, colour, sound. (2006)
- 3 Stories
3 Stories is made up of three diﬀerent, cyclical, and interlinking, stories, all of varying lengths. Each story was designed for cinema-size projection onto separate walls and high volume. “3 Stories” contains a martini-slugging, sports-car-crashing crocodile, journeys to and from the underworld, a stripper rising from the grave, a cursed lion who can’t decide whether he’s good or bad and loves to pleasure himself, God as a deceased American Rap star with a designer-shoe-fetish, Zebras from Outer Space, cities throbbing with sleazy strip joints, all-night bars and possible redemption, a man who turns into an elephant who makes love to a leopard, golden briefcases, a spaceship that may or may not save the world, a boat that provides an escape route from a sinking planet and Hell as a very nice place.
Video animation. Duration variable, colour, sound. (2008)
- Black Up That White Ass II
Black Up That White Ass II, a Good vs. Evil story of contemporary life in South Africa weaved through erotic pornography, historic battle stories, biblical parables and psychedelic dream sequences. Inﬂuenced by the tradition of storytelling in the medium of woodcuts, Slasher gore, Z- grade gangster ﬁlms, local politics, witchdoctors, kids cartoons, MTV, penis extension machines, arcadia, strip clubs, tabloid horror stories and the lure of casinos, this ﬁlm speaks to us about the universal themes of sex, love, violence, beauty and things falling apart.
With the meticulous appropriation of John Mua-fangejo, Big Wet Asses III, the Battle of Rorkes Drift in KwaZuluNatal, the parable of the Good Shepard, Shepherd and the Coen brothers’ Big Lebowski, Platter creates an ultra primitive, anti-aesthetic take on what it means to be alive today in South Africa.
Platter works with the time-consuming medium of animation, with each sequence labouri-ously laboriously, digitally handmade. The ﬁlm has an especially composed soundtrack by Platter’s frequent collaborator Captain Asthma and includes shades of Death Metal, Rozalla Miller’s Everybody’s Free, Kenny Rogers, South African Maskanda, and New Age Afro Blues Psychedelica.
Video animation. Duration 26 min 55 sec, colour, sound. (2009)
- The Old Fashion
The Old Fashion is a reaction to the franchise, depoliticized nation South Africa is fast becoming. It is a work in darkly humorous nihilism. Using the Third Man, Prince Barrack Hus-sein’s sports water/ penis combo, dance montages, an underwater hide-out of a deranged Charles Taylor cat (obviously bent on world domination), a latexed-up lion and a fast food restaurant on Asstropolis; all vehicles of his satire. The soundtrack, directed by Platter, is the work of his good friend and frequent collaborator, Captain Asthma.
Video animation. Duration 15 min 23 sec, colour, sound. (2010)