THE SOUTH AFRICAN
August 2010 For the full online edition go to: www.arttimes.co.za SUBSCRIBE: 1 year’s subscription to your door: R 360 - Incl. Business Art. and ArtLife E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Ceramicist, John Bauer, at home at his studio, Claremont, Cape Town. John took part in an international artist – on - couch photography project led by New York based photographer Rainer Hosch. Other famous artists taking part in the project are Wilem Dafoe, Whoopi Goldberg, David Duchovny and Warren Buffet to name but a few. (the latter unsurprisingly said he hoped Hosch was making a lot of money from the pictures). At the moment his client is furniture company Dedon who have sponsored him to take their couch around the world and shoot pictures in beautiful and unusual places. For more see page 13
New SA Art Life Magazine launched We are thrilled to bring you our new magazine format of SA Art Life. After some time of planning we have reformatted the tabloid size Art Life to magazine. The reasons are that the magazine format assisted with the clearer branding of the 3 titles that we publish, as well as to be ultimately be available on more countertops, as well as be able to be collectable in the form of stacking the volumes into bookshelves. This months Art Life includes a photo- essay on Kalk Bay by Jenny Altschuler, a well known photographer and recent graduate of Michaelis.
Exclusive interview with Dylan Lewis on his Untamed show in Business Art Steve Kretzmann interviews Dylan Lewis in Kalk Bay and chats to him about his latest show entitled: “Untamed”: Restoring the lost balance between man and nature at Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town “Untamed” consists of exciting new work and collaboration project between Dylan Lewis, Enrico Daffanchio (architect) and Ian McCallum (poet/writer). Lewis’s primary inspiration for his sculpture is wilderness. community. The exhibition will allow visitors to the garden to view a selection of Dylan Lewis’s sculptures, which will be held within a temporary structure designed by Enrico Daffonchio.
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South African Art Times August 2010
Landmark Johannes Meintjes exhibition “ the spectacular suddenness with which Johannes Meintjes catapulted to the headlines during the last years of WW2 is a phenomenon seldom equalled in SA cultural history. Before he was 22 years old the intense young artist enjoyed the kind of public adulation which was later reserved for youthful idols of the pop-music world”. Esmé Berman
Young man in sleep, 1959, Johannes Meintes 1940, Man with cigarette below An exhibition of the South African artist, author and historian, Johannes Meintjes (1923 -1980) is presented at the Sasol Art Museum,Stellenbosch University, 52 Ryneveld Street Stellenbosch, and open to the public from 18 July to 28 August 2010. Meintjes was a painter that enjoyed public support for his art since an early age and also received international acclaim as an author and historian. All of these aspects of his oeuvre will be hightlited at the exhibition. The fame he enjoyed as a 21 year old artist is unequalled in the South Afrian history of art. Esmé Berman wrote in her authoritative Art & Artists of South Africa that “ the spectacular suddenness with which Johannes Meintjes catapulted to the headlines during the last years of WW2 is a phenomenon seldom equalled in SA cultural history. Before he was 22 years old the intense young artist enjoyed the kind of public adulation which was later reserved for youthful idols of the pop-music world”. Johannes Meintjes died in 1980 and had established himself as a major South African painter and writer. Apart from numerous articles and smaller literary works, he had published 35 books, amongst them authoritative works on South African history. He had painted more than a thousand canvases, produced dozens of sculptures and exhibited in all South Africa’s major galleries - sometimes alone and sometimes in the company of artists such as Alexis Preller, JH Pierneef, Gerard Sekoto, Irma Stern, Maggie Laubser and Walter Battiss. For more information about Johannes Meintjes see: www.johannes-meintjes.co.za
South African Art Times August 2010
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Dan Halter in good spirits as being fourth invited SA Artist to Glenfiddich art residency, Scotland Zimbabwe-born, Cape Town-based artist Dan Halter is the latest South African artist to be invited to the Glenfiddich Artists-in-Residence programme. Halter, who took part in the tenth Havana Biennale in Cuba last year. He has previously completed two international residencies, one in Zürich, Switserland and one in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Halter is the fourth South African to be invited since the Glenfiddich programme was established in 2002. Last year, another Capetonian, Dathini Mzayiya, joined seven other artists from around the world for the seventh annual creative get-together in Scotland. The 33-year-old artist is well suited for this kind of artistic residency, working, as he often does, with inter-person issues set in highly-politicised social contexts. Born in Harare, Zimbabwe, from Swiss parents (the African/European
matrix is important in his progressive, acclaimed art endeavours), Dan Halter graduated from the Michaelis in 2001. At present Halter is working towards two exhibitions opening in May and June this year; one at the Goethe Institute in Johannesburg, the other at the What if the World Gallery in Woodstock. Utilising video, installation and mixed media, these shows will be the outcome of his recent engagement and interrogation of the physical, as well as metaphorical, border between Zimbabwe in crisis and palliative South Africa. He is also completing a sculptural commission for Idasa’s offices in Cape Town. Dan Halter’s solo exhibition titled “Double Entry” opened at the What if the World Gallery in Woodstock, Cape Town on 7 July. See more details on Dan’s show at www.whatiftheworld.com
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South African Art Times August 2010
The new and Untamed work by Dylan Lewis - the exhibition will allow visitors to the garden to view a selection of Dylan Lewis’s sculptures, which will be held within a temporary structure designed by Enrico Daffonchio. They will also be able to follow a marked garden trail along which they will discover strategically placed monumental bronzes interspersed with McCallum’s prose and poetry. The temporary structure will showcase contemporary, sustainable South African architecture, using solar power and natural light. The building will also feature a specially designed “living wall” of indigenous plants. The exhibition will run for one year, and over that time almost a million visitors to Kirstenbosch will have the opportunity to see Dylan Lewis’s latest sculptures.
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Intersections Intersected 2008: From Echo Canyon, Richtersveld, 25 December 2003
David Goldblatt Researched and written by Patricia Hayes
And for me the first principle in photography is economy of means. To tell the most with the least. Not to use fancy gadgets, not to use strong devices but rather to let the subject speak … And Bosman somehow does that in those stories, a remarkable economy of means, simplicity of language, and yet enormous eloquence. And then his use of irony I found very inspiring. I actively seek irony, I think, in photography. David Goldblatt David Goldblatt describes himself as a photographer, not an artist. He is ambivalent about his photographs fetching large sums of money in art galleries, even as he acknowledges the importance of this relatively new platform for photographers. It is important to explore the photographic world from which he comes, and which he has shaped, in order to understand the ethics, aesthetics and politics that Goldblatt articulates in such statements. For perhaps photography, more than art, has been a site of more overt political debate and challenge in a place like South Africa. Photography has after all been universally endowed with the cachet of ‘democratizing the image’ from the elitist grip of
the art world in the 19th century. In late 20th century South Africa however, photography found itself endowed with another cachet, that of imaging the democratization process. It is now a truism of critical art writing in South Africa that, after apartheid, documentary photography moved from a more political arena in the 1980s into the art gallery. We get some clue as to Goldblatt’s provocative position in all these debates, and his success in negotiating the divide between anti-apartheid and post-apartheid eras, when we recall that Goldblatt rejects the label of ‘documentary’ altogether. All photography is documentary.
Thus in his view, his photography is neither documentary nor art. It is, quite simply, photography. It is ironic that as a young man, in choosing between the study of economics or taking up photography (his two passions), what initially attracted Goldblatt to photography was the desire to show the deeply disturbing things happening in South Africa. This was after Sharpeville in 1960. But he soon found that covering events - especially violent confrontation - did not appeal to him. This has been a consistent thread throughout his career. He argues that what drove him to probe things with his camera was something else altogether.
Background & early work Goldblatt was born in Randfontein in 1930. Some argue that working in his father’s haberdashery and outfitters store as a young man gave Goldblatt an acute sense of people’s bodies. It also gave him an ambivalent but appreciative relationship with the local Afrikaner customers. From boyhood however, the local landscape of mine dumps and the small human figures working it also affected him profoundly. This produced something visceral that he needed to explore.
For a thinking young photographer in the early 1960s, however, South Africa did not have much in the way of an audience or a market. Even those earlier photographers such as Constance Stuart Larrabee, Leon Levson and Eli Weinberg who are now labeled ‘documentary’ made their living largely as commercial photographers. Jürgen Schadeburg and Drum photographers such as Ernest Cole, Alf Khumalo, Bob Gosani and Peter Magubane were feeling severe constraints by the 1960s. There was in fact very little
magazine culture at the time. Goldblatt was able to work out an eccentric arrangement with the magazine run by Anglo American Corporation, where his work was published ‘if the editor liked it’. From there, as photo editor of Leadership magazine, Goldblatt was able to establish himself in a world where editing and page design also came to shape his eye. From his early work on the mines, Goldblatt then combined commercial work with his own personal projects.
(Left) : (Detail) David Goldblatt seen during two-day photography workshop at the University of Botswana organized by Medu, 9 May 1981. Photo: Albio Gonzalez.
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The Transported of KwaNdebele 1989: Going home, Marabastad-Waterval bus, February 1984 Some Afrikaners Photographed 1975: Policeman in a squad car on Church Square, Pretoria, 1967
The Structure of Things Then 1998: Hassimia Sahib’s butchery and housing for whites. Pageview, 8 March 1986
Apartheid years (1960s-80s) Goldblatt has exhibited internationally since the early 1970s, but the spotlight increased dramatically in the last ten years culminating in top awards by the Hasselblad Foundation in 2006 and the Henri Cartier Bresson Foundation in 2009. His international fame and the ‘normalisation’ of his oeuvre makes it difficult to appreciate how unusual some of his choices of subject matter have been at the time of photographing. While it might be thought that he is to some extent addressing social documentary expectations concerning conditions for black workers in South Africa in ‘On the Mines 1973’, this work is difficult to contain within the genre, for Goldblatt portrayed white managers, officials and storekeepers in ways that herald his complex later work on Afrikaner whiteness and history. This was in addition to Goldblatt as landscape photographer in On the Mines, where he conveys a sense of how the environmental penetration and destruction of mining dwarfs and diminishes human beings altogether. Men and machines, both above and
below ground, are mapped into a literally and symbolically dehumanized landscape. His next exhibition and publication work cohered around the down-to-earth, vulnerable and sometimes raw whiteness of particularly small-town Afrikaners (and others) in Some Afrikaners Photographed 1975, and again with In Boksburg 1982. These conveyed the class vulnerability and the gendered and generational positionings within those groups which at the time were less obvious behind the façade of uncompromising apartheid and National Party government. In Boksburg also features Goldblatt’s commitment to representing the homogenization of South African towns and villages as the spread of chain-stores and capitalist institutions sets these characters against a series of ugly, generic architectural backdrops. This was a period of unprecedented growth in South Africa’s economy and in Goldblatt’s work this historical context is sited in construction itself. The latter later blossomed into the
mature, full-blown project on ‘structures’, where the photographer’s framing draws out the not so much pompous as distinctly self-elevating architecture of apartheid (especially Dutch Reformed churches), the towering monuments to bullish capitalism engulfing Johannesburg, and the dereliction caused by forced removals of black people who had constantly to build anew. Goldblatt was amongst the photographers chosen by the Carnegie Commission to focus on aspects of poverty in South Africa in the 1970s, later published as The Cordoned Heart. Goldblatt’s assignment was transport, which he later developed as The Transported of kwaNdebele (1989). The ambiguous title speaks eloquently to the new form of hardship faced by working people allocated citizenship in the new bantustan. Goldblatt traveled with commuters moving by night bus, shunted through the liminal space between ‘homeland’ and white city, home and work, family and alienation, darkness and dawn, dreaming and waking.
On The Mines 1973: Boss Boy, (detail), Battery Reef, Randfontein Estate Gold Mine. 1966.
The Structure of Things Then 1998: Suburban garden and Table Mountain. Bloubergstrand, 1986
Some Afrikaners Photographed 1975: On an ostrich farm near Oudtshoorn, 1967
In Boksburg 1982: During a session of the Junior Town Council at the Town Hall
In Boksburg 1982: Mother and child in Sunward Park
Some Afrikaners Photographed 1975: Picnic at Hartebeespoort on New Year’s Day, 1965
In Boksburg 1982: A girl and her mother at home
In Boksburg, published 1982: On the stoep: a girl in her new tutu
Elements of Goldblatt Familiar with the work of great European and American photographers, Goldblatt from early on sought a way of photographing that would represent the singularity and originality of South Africa. This did not simply refer to content or subject matter. In The Structure of Things Then (1998) he states that in retrospect, nothing so much as the strong, sometimes hard African light that defines objects in such a different and saturated way, has made a uniquely South African mode of photographing possible for him. In subject matter he has always seemed to stand back from the obvious, and his work on the ‘structures’ visible during apartheid uses this natural light with its sculpturing effect to virtually inscribe deeper histories into the objects and architectures photographed. This work most strikingly demonstrates the Goldblatt axiom of ‘less is more’. It gives plainness and ordinariness an unsurpassed dimensionality and presence, very striking in Suburban garden and Table Mountain. Bloubergstrand, 1986 for example. This capacity to bring out an awareness of more latent things has been sustained across Goldblatt’s oeuvre. One of the virtues of foregrounding banality is the way it exposes the dead time of apartheid, where things happen that are at the same time atrocious but naturalized and everyday. The truncated structure of Hassimia Sahib’s butchery. Pageview 1986 is a case in point. Given that he is a photographer, the strong influence exercised by South African prose writers rather than visual artists is a fascinating feature of
Goldblatt’s work. The influences are not literal or direct, but they apparently resonate. The way his reading of Herman Charles Bosman affected his photography of rural Afrikaners is well-known, but he articulates more than this: And for me the first principle in photography is economy of means. To tell the most with the least. Not to use fancy gadgets, not to use strong devices but rather to let the subject speak … And Bosman somehow does that in those stories, a remarkable economy of means, simplicity of language, and yet enormous eloquence. And then his use of irony I found very inspiring. I actively seek irony, I think, in photography. In conversation with writer Marlene van Niekerk, Goldblatt expanded on another aspect of his photographic philosophy. But let me say that I’ve always regarded photography as being extremely and totally concerned with the particular. You can never photograph universally. From the point of view that the photographer and photography, they don’t exist. You can photograph a dog peeing against a pole, it’s that particular dog and that particular pole. It’s not a platonic dog, and it’s not a platonic pee or pole… But if you manage somehow to infuse the picture with a sense of dogdom… then yes, it might conceivably become or have a quality that some readers might find has attained the universal. But it’s not something that I seek or that I would claim for my photographs.
If the two elements of economy and the particular are very important to Goldblatt, then there is also a third, and that is space. Goldblatt explains that magazine work taught him about the effects of cropping, that is, reducing the space of the image. ‘Magazines need, generally speaking, strong pages. The editor wants strong pages that will convey essentials very quickly, so that when a reader goes flipping through, they’re stopped’. But this ultimately educated Goldblatt’s sensibility in another way. Perhaps with great maturity and more awareness of the subtleties of photography I gradually lead to the point where I’m very interested in the things that happen almost subliminally and often at the edge of the frame. I don’t even see them, I can’t honestly say that I see them all, but they’re there. And when I come to working with the photograph, I now very often include bits and pieces that are untidy. They, if you like, at one level they detract from the essentials of the picture. But I’ve come to believe that in fact they don’t, because this is how reality is. The tension between space and detail is a difficult thing to negotiate. Goldblatt accepts that his photographs may not be easy for viewers. It is fortuitous that a series of technological shifts in colour film, digital photographic printing and cameras have given the photographer greater ‘latitude’ after apartheid, enabling him to move from the ‘slightly abrasive and reduced quality of black and white photography’ to a more expansive realm of colour.
From Intersections Intersected 2008: Are You Master? Km 4 on R74 between Harrismith and Bergville, In a time of AIDS, 25 August 2005
Intersections Intersected 2008: A stadium for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Green Point, Cape Town, 17 August 2008
Intersections 2005: Municipal people. Garies, 28 June 2004
Intersections Intersected 2008: Remains of longdrop lavatories, Frankfort, Eastern Cape, 22 February 2006
References Quotations and much of the material is derived from interviews with the photographer by the author together with Farzanah Badsha (2002), as well as by Mdu Xakaza (2006 & 2008), and Marlene van Niekerk (Cape Town Book Fair in 2007). Many thanks go to David Goldblatt for interviews, informal conversations, and the photographs generously provided for this issue. The portrait of David Goldblatt comes from Clive Kellner and Sergio-Albio González (eds), Thami Mnyele + MEDU Art Ensemble Retrospective (Johannesburg Art Gallery). Sunnyside: Jacana, 2009.
Bibliography Intersections Intersected 2008: Gateway to Ville de Fleur townhouse complex, Sunward Park, 17.12.2008
Intersections 2005: A cairn, perhaps marking a grave, Moordenaar’s Karoo, Leeuwenvalley, 24 April 2002
After apartheid The move to colour notwithstanding, Goldblatt claims that he is doing much the same thing after apartheid as he did before 1994. If a photographer is indeed tracking the same questions, then to a large extent he or she will end up literally documenting disgrace. While certain things after apartheid have changed – such as the way that South African cities have become Africanized after long histories of ‘influx control’ – many things have not. It is still possible to see enormous socioeconomic asymmetries that have their basis in class and race, which Goldblatt’s photographs of new football stadiums appear to highlight (see A stadium for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Green Point, Cape Town, 17 August 2008). This means that after the transition to democracy, instead of entering a state of grace, many of the cleavages, structures and landscapes have intensified in new and complex ways. This is a familiar postcolonial condition in Africa, but is both subtle and garish in a
nuanced and differentiated society like South Africa. What is especially visible in his post-apartheid urban work is how Goldblatt has returned to his old preoccupation with values: And I suppose if you look at my work, a great deal is concerned precisely with that. With trying to unravel how people express their values, what those values are, and what might be the consequences of those values. But it is especially through land and landscapes (‘for want of a better word’) that he has pursued his obsession with putting space and particulars into the same frame. From Echo Canyon, Richtersveld, 25 December 2003 has no visual echo because now the foreground has the same detail as the immense middle and background. Moreover, the experiment of the series Intersections to photograph seemingly random geographic co-ordinates produced A cairn, perhaps marking a grave, Moordenaar’s Karoo, Leeuwenvalley, 24 April 2002.
Goldblatt, David. On The Mines (with Nadine Gordimer). Cape Town: Struik, 1973. Goldblatt, David. Some Afrikaners Photographed. Johannesburg: Murray Crawford, 1975. Goldblatt, David. In Boksburg. Cape Town: Gallery Press, 1982. Goldblatt, David. Lifetimes: Under Apartheid (with Nadine Gordimer). New York: Knopf, 1986. Goldblatt, David. The Transported of KwaNdebele (with Brenda Goldblatt and Phillip van Niekerk). New York: Aperture, 1989. Goldblatt, David. South Africa: The Structure of Things Then. Cape Town and New York: Oxford University Press and Monacelli Press, 1998. Goldblatt, David. David Goldblatt. Fifty-One Years. Barcelona: MACBA and Actar, 2001. Goldblatt, David. Particulars. Johannesburg: Goodman Gallery Editions, 2003 (Awarded the Arles Book Prize for 2004). Goldblatt, David. David Goldblatt. Intersections. Munich: Prestel, 2005. Goldblatt, David. Some Afrikaners Revisited. Cape Town: Umuzi, 2007. Goldblatt, David. Intersections Intersected. Porto: Civilização Editora, 2008. Wilson, Francis and Omar Badsha, South Africa. The Cordoned Heart. Cape Town: The Gallery Press, 1986.
South African Art Times August 2010
John Bauer, artist at his studio, Claremont, Cape Town
Jedaja (Jakes) Ikoli at the Good Hope Studio’s, The Castle Cape Town
Nomlildo, Sophie Peters Jakes Ikoli- and Zxolani Sithungela, Good Hope Studio’s
Zarvic Botha, The Castle, Cape Town
Hanlie Coetzee-Liza Grobler-Elise O’Connor at the Bijou Studio’s, Observatory
John Bauer sucessfully trims his hedge with new couch, (top) international couch “fixers” moving couch, (right) Selvyn November, artist. (below): Rebecca Townsend, Observatory, Cape Town
International couch photographer makes local artists proud Serendipity and the magic of helpfulness or right time, right space. If you met a world renowned photographer and a rapper in Cape Town recently you’d assume a connection to the World Cup. But although they went to a match, that’s not what Rainer Hosch and Janic de Kaser, alias Estikay, were here for. It was all about artists, and a couch
photographed Bauer, resplendent in a 70’s style purple afghan and looking like a glam rock singer, hanging off a topiaried tree in his front garden accompanied by pottery and couch. The first the potter realised of the unassuming Austrian’s high profile was the number of ‘fixers’ who piled out of two vans to haul the couch over his wall.
New York based Hosch has photographed Wilem Dafoe, Whoopi Goldberg, David Duchovny and Warren Buffet to name but a few. (the latter unsurprisingly said he hoped Hosch was making a lot of money from the pictures). At the moment his client is furniture company Dedon who have sponsored him to take their couch around the world and shoot pictures in beautiful and unusual places. Estikay heard about the project and signed up to help, and they’re shooting a rap video on the way.
Accompanied by Estikay they then set off to the Good Hope Art Studios in Cape Town Castle where the rapper commissioned a self portrait in the distinctive style of Jedaja Ikoli and a woodcut by Zxolani, a panel depicting a South African life study. Hausch also photographed Sophie Peters, and at the Bijou Theatre, Selvin November, Lisa Grobler, Hanlie Kotzee and Elise Connor and Norman O’Flynn..
The team came into Africa through Kenya, where they strategically placed the furniture in a Masai celebration and had their fortunes told by a warrior witchdoctor. Hosch describes the experience as ‘ an incredible privelege’. They then had time for only one stop in South Africa - Cape Town -where he had the opportunity to indulge his personal passion, photographing artists at work. Having trained in Austria, Rainer Hosch was lured to New York, where he now lives, by the fashion photography industry. Early on he was also asked to take pictures of artists at work and that has spawned a book that he’s waiting to publish,Portraits of Artists, which can be seen along with his blogon his website www.rainerhosch.com. He loves the work so much that he does it on his own time. In Cape Town, a chance encounter with ceramicist John Bauer in a gallery led to a flurry of visits to artists studios and some purchases that will now be hanging on the walls of apartments in the big Apple. First he
At Ore Gallery in Observatory Rowan Smith’s ‘Pocket Calculator’caught the photographer’s eye, The piece displays the words to a Kraftwerk song crawling across the screen, perhaps a reminder of his teutonic roots. In conversation Hausch mused about the role of photography in art. He says like all art, ‘it’s what you choose to frame in a picture’. On the rise of digital he is philosophical “It changes everything. I tried to fight it at first and then I realised it’s about what I choose to photograph, not the medium” On purchasing art, he admits to missing out on many great opportunities to buy pieces from artists he’s photographed, only for them to make it really big later. He hasn’t made that mistake this time. Hausch and Estikay had to fly out of Cape Town before the end of the World Cup, saying it seemed far too soon. The photographer leaves Africa not only with work from emerging African artists but the words of the Massai witchdoctor. “You’re a happy man, a good man and everything will be alright.” For more about the project see: www.rainerhosch.com
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