Who are we?

2010-05-21 14:07

The convergence of

“being and place” is how each of us creates our identity and is what connects

­everybody’s politics in the world, ­says the Goodman Gallery’s ­Bronwyn


To explore this convergence in the South African context,

­Law-Viljoen has facilitated a ­series of ­exhibitions, ­installations and

­interventions in and around ­Johannesburg in ­response to the 2010 Fifa World


In Context features work by local and international ­artists who

are concerned with how “place and movement” inform ­identity.

I met up with Law-Viljoen at the Johannesburg Art Gallery where

William ­Kentridge’s I’m not Me the Horse is not Mine – the first in the series

– is on show. Although he is a South African citizen, ­Kentridge has an

international identity too.

Law-Viljoen insists that “In ­Context is not a showcase of South

African art” because such an ­approach would not achieve their aim. The idea is

to “look at ­movement and migration”.

The work included is by artists whose identities exist in the

context of multiple nationalities.

The project is about the artists’ diasporic

­identities which, in turn, inform the ­ever- changing meanings of their works.

For example, Philippe Parreno and Douglas Gordon are from France,

the US and Scotland ­repectively.

Their video installation, ­Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, is a

grand study of the French-Algerian ­soccer star, Zinedine Zidane, and makes use

of 17 cameras to ­focus exclusively on him for 90 minutes.

But it’s not a record of a football game. Instead it’s an intense

study of a modern, multinational soccer superhero in action.

Law-Viljoen says: “He is the ­epitome of focus and


This work will be exhibited outdoors at Melrose Arch in

­Johannesburg on a date to be announced sooon, which Law-Viljoen regrets: “The

­artists wanted it shown in a stadium or in Soweto, but because we have the

World Cup ­going on it’s ­impossible to get a ­stadium.

“Plus the technical ­facilities ­required for it were easily

accessible at Melrose Arch.”

“In ­Context also explores how South Africans respond to a whole

lot of foreigners moving into the ­country.

“The answer sometimes is: not very well. Place is a much-

­contested feature in our collective psyche and so is movement.”

She says there are two types of people who move around the world:

the wealthy who get to travel and, of course, “those who move, otherwise they


Law-Viljoen ­cautions that there are also millions of people who

“never go anywhere” and space is ­important to them too.

“There are always people moving in and out of our country. Perhaps

the ceremonial nature of these World Cup visits makes this time of temporary

migration special.”

Hence the exhibition also looks at how the country will respond to

these movements while it is under such ­immense global media ­attention.

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