Venice art line-up finally announced

2015-04-16 10:52

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A mixed bag of young guns and established contemporary artists will represent South Africa at the Venice Biennale – including controversial creator of The Spear, Brett Murray.

With just over three weeks to the opening of the 56th Venice Biennale, one of the world’s most important art events, the curators of the South African Pavilion, which is funded at considerable cost by the department of arts and culture, have finally announced their artist line-up for this prestigious international occasion to City Press.

The artists selected to represent South Africa are a mixed bag of composers, sculptors, performance artists, photographers, painters and drawers.

Mohau Modisakeng

Names announced so far include:

» Willem Boshoff;

» Angus Gibson;

» Gerald Machona;

» Haroon Gunn-Salie;

» Mark Lewis;

» Mohau Modisakeng;

» Nandipha Mntambo;

» Brett Murray;

» Jo Ratcliffe;

» Robin Rhode;

» Warrick Sony;

» Diane Victor; and

» Jeremy Wafer.

The curators of the show – architect Jeremy Rose and the director of the Apartheid Museum, Christopher Till – have a monumental task ahead of them to get ready for the all-important preview day on May 8. Just clearing customs with the work could take weeks.

Over the past week Till and Rose have been working round the clock to meet the dangerously tight deadline.

Taking their cue from Okwui Enwezor’s title for the main exhibition at the biennale, All the World’s Futures, Till and Rose announced this morning that the pavilion “will present an array of works by artists who are deeply invested in local iterations of power, freedom, and civil liberty.

“We wish not only to represent recent, important work from South Africa, but also to set in motion a complex and dynamic debate about the relationship between the contemporary moment and the narratives of the past.”

Rose told City Press: “The significance of this particular exhibit is the way we have selected specific artists who are speaking about issues right now, for instance, Gerald Machona, who is a Zimbabwean artist who deals with xenophobia, and a work by Haroon Gunn-Salie, who will be speaking about the current defacing of sculptures. We are really hoping to speak to the current moment and that this is how the show will be read.”

Gerald Machona

Whether this eclectic group will come together in something cohesive is now up to the curators.

Over the past weeks local artists have been in an uproar over the time it has taken for the department to announce its plan for this year’s pavilion. The first SA Pavilion in Venice in 2011 was controversial due to unaccounted spending.

“Our combined experience – from work in the public sector, the management of museums and biennales, curatorship, architecture, gallery and museum design – of locating and communicating a strong but multilayered curatorial idea encourages critical debate and brings fresh insights to our own particular contemporary moment,” said the curators.

Whether the show will be up in time remains to be seen, so keep up to date with the developments of this momentous occasion at, which goes live on Friday.

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