Sasol New Signatures’ Rising Star A great artist is a barometer of the time in which he/she lives.
asol New Signatures is recognised as the longest-running art competition of its kind in South Africa. An initiative of the Association of Arts Pretoria, Sasol New Signatures has played a pivotal role in unearthing new talent and providing a platform from which emerging artists can launch their careers. Sasol has been collecting artworks by home-grown talent since the early 1980s, and features a collection of about 2 000 pieces. Over the past 26 years of Sasol’s patronage, Sasol New Signatures has continued to grow in stature, entries and quality. Of the 590 entries received this year, 110 were shortlisted for the Sasol New Signatures exhibition at the Pretoria Art Museum. A great artist is a barometer of the time in which he/she lives. This can be seen in this year’s Sasol New Signatures winning works which in many ways are an artistic reflection of the state of affairs in South Africa. This year’s submissions reflected on an array of social and political issues ranging from tragedy, triumph, nostalgia to identity, transformation and integration. Commenting on the calibre of entries, acclaimed artist, judge and National Competition Chairman Pieter Binsbergen said the 2015 finalists demonstrated the vital role that visual communication has come to play Header: Nelmarie du Preez, to shout, 2013, Singlechannel video with sound (Duration: 71 seconds) Right: Nelmarie du Preez
in grounding a unique South African identity. “What has become most evident in the works of the 2015 finalists is the innovative combination of materials, which are both traditional and unconventional by nature. I am of the opinion that this is done in order to empower the artworks conceptually with modes that ground the notion of personal and individual identity,” Binsbergen highlighted. Judges awarded five merit awards to Colleen Winter, Sethembile Msezane, Bronwyn Katz, Nazeerah Jacub, and Rory Emmett – each artist receiving a R10 000 cash prize. Mareli Janse van Rensburg is this year’s runner-up for her work, The final moments of Immanuel Sithole, winning a R25 000 cash prize. Her art piece makes a statement about the media’s portrayal of the recent xenophobia attacks in South Africa, which claimed the life of Mozambican national Immanuel Sithole. All finalists’ works are available for purchase from www.sasolsignatures.co.za.
WINNING WORK Thirty-year-old Pretoria performance artist, Nelmarie du Preez took top honours at the awards ceremony, winning the 2015 Sasol New Signatures art competition for her work titled to shout. Du Preez received a cash prize of R100 000 and a solo exhibition in 2016.
Du Preez’s piece caught the attention of the judges due to its conceptual and technical excellence. She explains: ‘to shout’ (2013) forms part of a series of videos that I created in collaboration with my performance partner – who takes on different forms; either a robot or a digital male version of myself. The performance based collective that I established between myself and this machine, was inspired by the collaboration between famous performance artist Marina Abramovic and her former partner in life and art, Ulay. Together, we created various performance exercises and in ‘to shout’ we sit across from each other and proceed to shout at each other very much like Marina and Ulay in their work, AAA-AAA (1978). However in this instance the digital version listens to my voice and mimics it. This mimicry is an essential part of my work, which reveals the performative nature of relationships, whether it be between humans or between humans and object or in this case, machines. This work in particular also looks at how our communicative channels have changed via the development of new technologies such as social media. Ultimately my work is very much about trust and in particular how trust fluctuates. Technology offers the perfect medium for an exploration of the politics of trust seeing as we put our trust in technology every day to different degrees. We trust that our cars will get us SA ART TIMES | OCTOBER 2015