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MICHAEL STEVENSON 3 June – 24 July 2010 BRODIE/STEVENSON 10 June – 16 July 2010




N   E Joost Bosland D A P: W D T M? Thomas Hirschhorn




MYL 18 Marc Bijl 20 Serge Alain Nitegeka 24 Simon Gush 28 Zanele Muholi 30 PROJECT Lynette Yiadom-Boakye 38 Lucia Nimcova 40 PROJECT Walid Raad 46 Akram Zaatari 48 Sabelo Mlangeni 52 Thomas Hirschhorn 56 PROJECT Thomas Hirschhorn 62 Shepard Fairey 66 Berni Searle 68 Jane Alexander 72 PROJECT Zineb Sedira 76 Penny Siopis 80 Natasja Kensmil 84 Frohawk Two Feathers 86 Anton Kannemeyer 90 Meschac Gaba 94 Glenn Ligon 98 PROJECT Glenn Ligon 104 Jo Ractliffe 108 Mohau Modisakeng 112 Michael MacGarry 114 PROJECT Zina Saro-Wiwa 118 Pieter Hugo 120


T 1990-2010 Compiled by Sithembile Mbete


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Joost Bosland

Sixteen years ago, the South African political landscape looked markedly different from today. Nelson Mandela had been elected president - a symbol, both at home and to the world, of humanity’s ability to overcome history. As a result, the country was able to stand prominently on the world stage. Its opinions and ideals mattered. By the time of our last elections in 2009, political bickering and a series of flawed policy decisions had eroded South Africa’s moral high ground. From its tacit acceptance of brutal regimes, both in the region and elsewhere in the world (most poignantly illustrated by the government’s refusal to meet the Dalai Lama), to its limited and unscientific response to HIV/AIDS, idealism slipped into the background and the country became just another emerging economy. Around the same time, in another country, hope replaced cynicism as the guiding principle of its political discourse. The title of this show comes from a speech given by Barack Obama while visiting Europe before he was elected president of the United States: Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule


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of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don’t look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?

exhibition invokes a group whose time has come. At the most simplistic level, 2010 is South Africa’s time in the spotlight. The official anthem of the Soccer World Cup by global superstar Shakira implies as much: ‘People are raising their expectations … This is your moment, no hesitations.’

People of Berlin - people of the world this is our moment. This is our time.

It is also the era of emerging economies in a broader sense. India, Brazil and South Africa have joined forces to lobby for Security Council reform. With Europe seeking to recover from Greece’s sovereign debt crisis, only shortly after the ‘international’ banking crisis, much of global economic growth (and, in fact, innovation) is driven by the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and their allies.

In the realm of art, these words recall the disarming declaration of love by Felix Gonzalez-Torres in a letter to his partner, Ross Laycock, scribbled beneath a sketch of his seminal work Perfect Lovers: Don’t be afraid of the clocks, they are our time, time has been so generous to us. We imprinted time with the sweet taste of victory. We conquered fate by meeting at a certain TIME in a certain space. We are a product of the time, therefore we give back credit where it is due: time.1 These two quotations – the politician echoing the artist, the artist auguring the politician – frame This is Our Time. This is our time Read with an emphasis on ‘our’, the title of this

There could be another ‘our’ too. The artists of This is Our Time hail from many different parts of the world, and share an approach to art-making that is deeply political.2 During the recent economic boom, much of the art that flourished appeared apolitical, glib and self-referential. Yet, as Gonzalez-Torres reminds us, ‘Art has always been activist. It just depends whose activities it was in service of. Either those who want to go back to the good old times of the monolithic straight, white, male classical voice; or, those of us who are interested in a little more – should I say – color and texture.’3 Perhaps this is the group to which the title refers.


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On entering the gallery, one sees the graffitied words ‘WE WILL MAINTAIN’ by Marc Bijl. Based on the translation of the French text in the Dutch coat of arms, ‘Je Mantaindrai’, he has changed the phrase from first person singular to first person plural: an attempt at standing together at a precarious time. In the next room, 51 portraits of black lesbians by Zanele Muholi claim visibility through the assertion of group identity. One room further, Akram Zaatari’s reproductions of photographs from Palestinian political prisoners in an Israeli prison, Shepard Fairey’s tribute to Black Panthers co-founder Bobby Seale, and Sabelo Mlangeni’s photographs of gay life in rural South Africa demand attention for the disenfranchised. ‘Be marginal, be a hero,’ as the Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica once proclaimed. Alliances and allegiances, however, are by nature unstable. When Obama ran for president, many of his loudest supporters could be found in the global south. Yet, on 1 October 2009 (less than 10 months after his inauguration), he found himself competing with Lula da Silva, president of Brazil, in their respective support for Chicago and Rio de Janeiro as host cities for the 2016 Olympic Games. The same progressive voices that cheered for Obama in Berlin now threw their weight behind Brazil. In his victory speech, Lula used the familiar turn of phrase: ‘I say with all sincerity:

our time has come. It has come!’ This is our time It is useful to think, like the American critic Bob Nickas, of artworks as ‘indices of time’, where time in turn ‘comprises a constellation of social and political stakes ranging from wars and political struggles to fashion and graphic design’.4 The French philosopher Jacques Rancière also stresses the importance of context when he argues that the contemporary conception of art ‘is first of all a new regime for relating to the past. It actually sets up as the very principle of artisticity the expressive relationship inherent in a time and a state of civilization, a relationship that was previously considered to be the “non-artistic” part of works of art.’5 In the exhibition, Simon Gush’s Untitled probes the essence of time through a tribute to GonzalezTorres’ Perfect Lovers. A small metronome and a Soviet-era watch, sitting side by side on a little shelf, suggest linear and cyclical conceptions of time respectively. The genealogy of the watch, meanwhile, reminds us that neither time nor objects are ever free of political context. Echoes of the Cold War are found elsewhere too. Jo Ractliffe shows a triptych of what she calls the holy trinity of South Africa’s ‘border war’: faded mural portraits of Fidel


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Castro, Agostinho Neto and Leonid Brezhnev that she encountered in 2009 in southern Angola. As Ractliffe’s photographs assert, our world today is built on the ruins of previous political formations. In This is Our Time, several artists excavate the present from the past. The drawings of Anton Kannemeyer contain visual and textual quotes from historical reference works, emphasising their lingering influence on conceptions of race today. Lucia Nimcova mines photographic archives in her native Slovakia for material that captures existence in the so-called period of normalisation. Obscure White Messenger by Penny Siopis similarly uses found footage. The short film tells the story of Dimitri Tsafendas, who assassinated Hendrik Verwoerd in 1966, and takes its title from the only reference to Tsafendas in Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. Combining fantasy with historical processes is also the foundation of Natasja Kensmil’s painting and the drawings of Frohawk Two Feathers. The 2027 Lagos cityscape by Michael MacGarry is a logical extension of their method into the future. This is our time South Africa’s last presidential elections at first appeared to entrench permanently the culture of opportunism and cold, calculated politics to which the country had rapidly become accustomed.

Jacob Zuma was tainted by allegations of moral and financial misconduct, and was the leader of a party fractured by a leadership battle. Then suddenly, after a demoralised election, the sky cleared. The new president declared in his inaugural speech: ‘There is no place for complacency, no place for cynicism, no place for excuses,’ and political commentators started to speak tentatively of a South African glasnost. In December 2009, a familiar face graced the cover of Time magazine – the headline read: ‘The Surprising Promise of Jacob Zuma’. Zuma’s issue of Time shared newsstands with an Economist cover that featured a sad-looking Obama under the headline ‘The quiet American’, and the contrast marked the fickle nature of public perception. Over the course of the past year much of the enthusiasm for Zuma has again waned, but, like Obama’s election in the US, it was an opening for those who reject cynicism to stake their claim in national politics. When the artists in this exhibition look at the world today, what do they see? Or perhaps the question should be, what do they show? Rancière argues for art that ‘would ensure, at one and the same time, the production of a double effect: the readability of a political signification and a sensible or perceptual shock caused, conversely, by the uncanny, by that which resists signification’.6


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Historically, political art in South Africa has primarily been concerned with voicing protest, as is documented in Sue Williamson’s seminal book, Resistance Art. In the first decade of democracy, public politics made way for personal politics as identity became a prime site of investigation for local artists. Now, however, a new crop of artists including Simon Gush, Mohau Modisakeng and the collective MYL has turned its gaze to the public sphere again, but they are influenced more by the complex practices of people like Gonzalez-Torres or Santiago Sierra than by political work made in South Africa in an earlier time. In many ways, illustrating and contextualising this apparent generational shift was the impetus for This is Our Time. The tunnel leading in to the gallery, an installation by Serge Alain Nitegeka, is exemplary of this move away from binaries. While rooted in a personal history of forced migration, it requires one to navigate an abstract, difficult space to enter the exhibition. At once imaginary and very real, it recalls Theodor Adorno’s position that ‘it is not the office of art to spotlight alternatives, but to resist by its form alone the course of the world’.7 It is illuminating to view the work of Thomas Hirschhorn, Berni Searle, Meschac Gaba, Glenn Ligon, Jane Alexander, Pieter Hugo and many others in This is Our Time as resistance through form.

To achieve what Gonzalez-Torres poetically calls colour and texture, it is tempting to retreat into an oppositional stance, one that pits concerns of the periphery against those of the centre, the outsider against the system. Using negation as a starting point, however, surrenders power to those one seeks to negate. In his essay in the following pages of this catalogue, Hirschhorn succinctly expresses this paradox: ‘I can only create something if I act positively towards reality, including to the hard core of reality … The point is not to be uncritical or not to criticise – the point is to remain positive in spite of the sharpest criticism, in spite of uncompromising rejection and categorical resistance.’ The level of complexity in this position is found throughout the exhibition, in the work of artists who share a desire for nuance and a considered resistance to the lure of cynicism. This is their time.


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Felix Gonzalez-Torres, ‘Letter to Ross Laycock, 1988’ in Felix Gonzalez-Torres (New York: steidldangin publishers, 2006), p155. There is a history of exhibitions rooted in politics to which This is Our Time owes a significant debt: Documenta X and XI come to mind immediately, but also Heart of Darkness in 2006 at the Walker Art Center. Recently, the intervals between shows like these seem to have shrunk. At the time of writing, Witte de With in Rotterdam is in the final stages of its year-long Morality Series, the Sydney Biennale has just opened with the title The Beauty of Distance, HAU in Berlin is showing Yael Bartana and the Raqs Media Collective, and both Artforum and Frieze magazines appear to dedicate more pages to art and politics in each successive issue. The trend is equally visible in commercial galleries: shows at the time of writing include A Vernacular of Violence at InvisibleExports in New York, Rirkrit Tiravanija at Chantal Crousel in Paris, and Josephine Meckseper at Elizabeth Dee in New York, among others. Gonzalez-Torres, ‘Practices: The Problem of Divisions of Cultural Labor’ in Felix Gonzalez-Torres, p129 (author’s emphasis). John Miller, ‘Other Plans’ in Bob Nickas Theft is Vision (Zurich: JRP/ Ringier, 2008), p6 Jacques Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics (London: Continuum, 2004), p25 Rancière, p63 Theodor Adorno, ‘Commitment’ in Theodor Adorno et al Aesthetics and Politics (London: Verso, 1980), p180



Thomas Hirschhorn

Today, the terms ‘political art’, ‘committed art’, ‘political artist’ and ‘committed artist’ are used very often. These simplifications and abbreviations have long been obsolete. They are cheap and lazy classifications. Not for a second do I think of myself as more ‘committed’ than another artist. As an artist, one must be totally committed to one’s artwork. There is no other possibility than total commitment if one wants to achieve something with one’s art. This is true for any art. Today there is great confusion concerning the question of what should be ‘Political’ or ‘political’. I am only interested in what is really political, the political that implicates: Where do I stand? Where does the other stand? What do I want? What does the other want? The politics of opinions, of comments and of views of the majority does not and has never interested me. I am concerned with doing my art politically – I am not and was never concerned with making political art. The statement ‘doing art politically – not making political art’ is a statement I took from Jean-Luc Godard. He said, ‘It is a matter of making films politically; it is not a matter of making political films.’ But what does it mean to do art politically? Doing art politically means giving form Not making a form – but giving form. A form which comes from me, from myself only, which can only come from me because I see the form that way, I


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understand it that way and because I am the only one to know that form. To give form – as opposed to making a form – means to be one with it. I must stand alone with this form. It means raising the form, asserting this form and defending it – against everything and against everyone. It means to ask the question of form for myself and try to answer – through giving form. I want to try to confront the great artistic challenge: How can I give a form which takes a position? How can I give a form that resists facts? I want to understand the question of form as the most important question for an artist. Doing art politically means creating something I can only create or fulfill something if I address reality positively, even the hard core of reality. It is a matter of never allowing the pleasure, the happiness, the enjoyment of work, the positive in creation, the beauty of working, to be asphyxiated by criticism. This doesn’t mean reacting, but it means always being active. Art is always action, art is never reaction. Art is never merely a reaction or a critique. It doesn’t mean being uncritical or not making a critique – it means being positive despite the sharpest critique, despite uncompromising rejection and despite unconditional resistance. It means not to deny oneself passion, hope and dream. Creating something means to risk oneself and I can only do that if I work without – at the same time –

analysing what I am making. To take the risk, to have joy in working, to be positive, are the preconditions for making art. Only in being positive can I create something that comes from myself. I want to be positive, even within the negative. Because I want to be positive, I must gather the courage to touch also the negative – that is where I see the Political. It means taking action, risking an assertion, assuming a position, a position which goes beyond mere criticism. I want to be critical, but I do not want to let myself be neutralised by being critical. I want to try to go beyond my own criticism, but I do not want to make it easier for myself with a – narcissistic – self-critique. I never want to complain as an artist, for there is no reason to – I can do my work, I can create something. Doing art politically means deciding in favour of something I decided to position my work in the form- and force-fields of Love, Politics, Philosophy and Aesthetics. I always want my work to touch each of these fields. All four fields are equally important to me. My work does not have to cover all these fields evenly; however, I always want all four fields to be touched. One of these four form- and force-fields, but only one, is the field of Politics. To choose the force- and form-field of Politics means that, in my work, I always want to ask the question: What


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do you want? Where do you stand? It also means that I always want to ask myself: What do I want? Where do I stand? The force- and form-field of Politics – like the field of Aesthetics – can also be interpreted negatively, of this I am aware. But it is never about excluding or rejecting the negative, it is about confronting the negative, working within the negative and involving oneself in it; it is always a matter of not being negative oneself. Through my work, I want to create a new truth beyond negativity, beyond current issues, beyond commentaries, beyond opinions and beyond evaluations. Doing art politically means using art as a tool I understand art as a tool to encounter the world. I understand art as a tool to confront reality. And I understand art as a tool to live within the time in which I am living. I always ask myself: Does my work have the ability to generate an event? Can I encounter someone with my work? Am I – through my work – trying to touch something? Can something – through my work – be touched? Doing art politically means considering the work that I am doing today – in my milieu, in my history – as work which aims to reach out of my milieu – beyond my history. I want – in and through my life – to address and confront universal concerns. Therefore I must work with what surrounds me, with what I know and with what affects me. I must not give in to the

temptation of the particular – but, on the contrary, must try to touch universality. The particular – which always excludes – must be resisted. For me this means that I want to do my work, the work that I am doing here and now, as a universal work. That is the Political. Doing art politically means building a platform with the work Creating a platform enables others to come in contact with the work. I want all of my works to be understood as a surface or a field. This field or surface is the upper surface that enables access or contact with art. The impact or friction takes place on this upper surface, and through a contact, the other can be implicated. This surface – my work – must be a locus for dialogue or for confrontation. I think that art has the power and capacity – because it is art – to create the conditions for a dialogue or a confrontation, directly, one-to-one, without communication, without mediation, without moderation. As an artist I want to consider my work as a platform, a platform which is a clear opening toward the other. I always want to ask myself: Does my work possess the dynamic for a breakthrough? And I ask myself: Is there an opening, is there a path into my work? Does my work resist the tendency toward the hermetic? My work must create an opening; it must be a door, a window or even just a hole, a hole


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carved into today’s reality. I want to make my artwork with the will to create a breakthrough. Doing art politically means loving the material with which one works To love does not mean to be in love with one’s material or to lose oneself in it. Rather, to love one’s material means to place it above everything else, to work with it in awareness, and it means to be insistent with it. I love the material because I decided in favour of it – therefore I do not want to replace it. Since I decided in favour of it – and love it – I cannot and do not want to change it. The decision about the material is an extremely important one. That is the Political. And because I made that decision, I cannot yield to wishes and demands for ‘something else’ or ‘something new’. Doing art politically means inventing one’s guidelines It means inventing one’s own guidelines or appropriating them. My guidelines are: acting in headlessness; ‘Energy = Yes! Quality = No!’; being weak – but wanting to make a strong work; not economising oneself; self-expenditure; ‘Panic is the solution!’; being both precise and exaggerating; undermining oneself; being cruel vis-à-vis one’s own work, being tenacious, ‘Less is less! More is

more!’; ‘Never won, but never completely lost!’; having the ambition to coin a new concept with my work; assuming responsibility for everything concerning my work; accepting to look dumb in front of my own work; ‘Better is always less good!’; refusing all hierarchies; believing in the friendship between Art and Philosophy; being ready – because the first – to pay the price for one’s work. Doing art politically means working for the other Working for the other means first of all to work for the other within myself. It also means working for a non-exclusive public. The other can be my neighbour or can be a stranger, someone who frightens me, whom I don’t know and don’t understand. The other is someone I did not think of and did not expect. The non-exclusive public is not just ‘all’ or ‘the mass’ or ‘the majority’, the non-exclusive public consists of the others, the sometimes more and sometimes less numerous ‘others’. Through and in my work I want to work for a non-exclusive public. I want to do everything in order never to exclude the other from my work, and I want to include the other always and without conditions. I want to include the other through the form of my work. The other is also the reason why I make no distinction between works in public space, in a commercial gallery, in an art fair, in a museum, in an art centre or in an alternative art space. That


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is the Political. To work for the other enables me to position myself as an artist on the outside of the spectrum of evaluation. Doing art politically means being a warrior Doing art politically does not mean working for or against the market The question is much more about understanding the market as part of the artist’s reality and about working in this reality. Not wanting to work for or against the market is not merely a declaration. It is the awareness that only through autonomy and independence can art maintain itself beyond the laws of the market. Only a direct and affirmed confrontation with the reality of the market – despite the errors, the defects, the faults and the injuries – makes it possible to resist and go beyond the market pressure, and as an artist I cannot become dependent. The artist – especially during the first years – always needs support and assistance. Although I know the importance of this support and assistance, I must never let myself or my work be dependent on it. Aubervilliers, Summer 2008 Published in INAESTHETIK #1, ‘Politics of Art’, June 2009





Sermon on the Train

MYL presented a lecture by artist Marc Bijl titled ‘On the Road: Thoughts on power, paradoxes, contradictions and the balance between art and life’ on Saturday 5 June 2010 on the 10:12 Metrorail train from Cape Town Station to Nolungile Station on the Khayelitsha line.


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MARC BIJL Statement 2010 Spray paint on wall Orange Mural 2010 Latex and spray paint on wall

A-Q D W C T P A  I By Caroline Alexander May 25 (Bloomberg) – Al-Qaeda in Iraq denied it was planning to attack the soccer World Cup in South Africa, a week after officials in Baghdad said they had captured a member of the group who confessed to plotting a terrorist act there. ‘We deny this news entirely,’ the group said late yesterday in a statement posted on websites used by al-Qaeda. It described the charges as empty allegations and said its ‘dreams and aspirations’ didn’t stretch as far as Johannesburg. Iraq’s Baghdad Military Command announced in a televised news conference on May 17 the capture of an al-Qaeda member, who it said had worked with Ayman al-Zawahiri, deputy to Osama bin Laden, ‘to plot terrorist attacks during the World Cup.’ The suspect was identified as Abdullah Azzam Saleh al-Qahtani, a Saudi Arabian national described as chief of the group’s security in

Baghdad. The Iraqi military said he was a lieutenant in the Saudi army and had entered Iraq in 2004. The arrest was announced by the Baghdad Military Command spokesman, Major General Qassim Atta, who didn’t provide details of the alleged plot on the world’s most-watched sporting event, which starts June 11 and ends on July 11. Police in South Africa have been making inquiries into the Iraqi investigation, according to the South African Press Association. Saudi Arabian authorities are trying to verify the identity of the man in Iraqi custody, the London-based Asharq alAwsat newspaper said last week. Qahtani said in an interview with the Associated Press on May 18 that he had merely discussed with friends the idea of attacking the Danish and Dutch team and their fans in revenge for ‘insults’ toward the prophet Mohammad in Denmark and the Netherlands. Senior al-Qaeda leaders, including al-Zawahiri, hadn’t yet approved the plans for an attack, he said. Cartoons in a Danish newspaper that depicted the prophet Mohammad sparked worldwide protests by Muslims in 2006. In the Netherlands, Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders released a film in 2008 that interspersed verses from the Koran with scenes of Islamist terrorism. Source: Bloomberg Businessweek


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The Tunnel 2010 Wooden pallets, cable ties 288 x 448 x 127cm

It is just a structure; at least I can admit that much. The Tunnel, as it has come to be known, conjures up a whole range of metaphors. I suppose this comes from individual experience of its physicality. Initially I liked the form and how it commanded the space around it. Its geometric form and large size make the space apparent, charged and somewhat of a different dimension. The structure seemed as if it needed no titling, no frame to be read in. I wanted it to be just a structure consuming space even though I was aware that it can be anything. Yet it was conceived as a metaphor for a kind of refugee-landscape that one has to tread and negotiate carefully; a threedimensional path. One has to walk carefully on the pallet planks to avoid tripping or slipping into gaps or even falling and getting hurt. As simple as it is, it can be a brutal structure that one might think is impossible to get used to.

As a space, The Tunnel invites and prepares for uncertainty ahead. For me it is about how a state receives foreigners. For example, The Tunnel could stand for a kind of border post, a region or space making a boundary like Beitbridge at the South African-Zimbabwean border. As I walked through, I felt I was being looked at, and looked at again, as if undergoing a screening process, a kind of testing to see how one fares, much like a cattle-dip. The Tunnel adapts to spaces, metaphors and most importantly to the experience of life as uncertain. Perhaps The Tunnel can become a space where an individual performs this experience of life. Serge Alain Nitegeka


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From: Serge Alain Nitegeka Sent: 29 April 2010 To: Ndéye Fatou Gueye-Ngom Subject: Dak’Art

Dear Mme Gueye, It gives me great sadness to inform you that I will not be able to make it for the Dak’Art 2010 Biennale. I have been unsuccessful in acquiring a travel document. I tried very hard ever since I knew of my being selected, I didn’t want to miss it. Even now, it seems weird and unreal that I am writing this e-mail. At the moment I have an Asylum Seeker Temporary Permit which I have been using for the past seven years. This permit only allows me to work and study but doesn’t allow me to travel outside the country. I would have to get refugee status in order to acquire a travel document. This was a brilliant opportunity, a great stepping stone to launch and pursue a successful career as an artist. I thank you and all others involved for the opportunity and interest in my work. I am sorry for all to be cancelling arrangements. God willing, I will do an installation in the next Biennale. Regards Serge



Untitled 2010 Metronome and wristwatch Installation dimensions variable

‘Whether or not it was ticking, whether or not the chime sounded, no one looked at the clock to know the time, but they did spend a lot of time talking about whether it had been wound or not, and how a frozen pendulum might be set in motion again just by touching it once. “Let it be, let it tick, it’s not hurting anyone,” Tarik Bey would sometimes say to his wife. “It reminds us that this house is a house.” I think I would agree, as would Füsun, Feridun, and even the odd visitor. So the wall clock was not there to remind us of the time, or to warn us that things were changing; it was there to persuade us that nothing whatsoever had changed.’ Orhan Pamuk, The Museum of Innocence, New York: Alfred A Knopf, 2009, p284


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Faces and Phases 2006-2010 Silver gelatin prints 86.5 x 60.5cm each Installation views

In 2010 South Africa hosts the much spoken about Soccer World Cup which coincides with many other celebrations, among them 20 years of Gay Pride and 16 years of democracy. It is 54 years since the Women’s March to Pretoria to protest pass laws in 1956; 34 years since the Soweto student uprising of 1976; 16 years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established and 14 years since the adoption of the Constitution. To be counted as equal citizens in our country, we black lesbians need to make ourselves visible in whatever way we can. We need to resist prejudice in all its forms especially when it displaces us because of our sexual orientation and gender expression.

The objectives of the Faces and Phases series are: t To produce visual materials that are accessible to black lesbian women and other service providers in and outside the LGBTI community. t To create memory. t To provide visual and political representation of the interests of black women and transmen in South Africa as members of three groups of previously disadvantaged persons, namely women, lesbians and transgendered people. t To provide a vehicle for the articulation of the needs and concerns of black women and lesbians throughout South Africa, at a national level not limited to any province, and the advancement of their interests. t To empower the said marginalised target group through provisions of alternative methods of expression at all levels. This could be at business level, personal, cultural, social and political, thus improving the quality of their lives. t To share black lesbian culture and history through visuals. Zanele Muholi


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Dear Minister Xingwana

Gabeba Baderoon This article was written in response to Arts and Culture Minister Lulu Xingwana’s comments about works by Zanele Muholi and Nandipha Mntambo on the Innovative Women exhibition at Constitution Hill, Johannesburg, in August 2009

To place yourself before a work of art is a complex and potentially transformative experience. Sometimes that means looking at something you’d rather not see. But as the Minister of Arts and Culture, you preside over a realm in which that line between what you’d rather not see and what you need to look at is an ever-present factor, and a theme of much art. Minister, I invite you to look at art that challenges you, like that of Nandipha Mntambo and Zanele Muholi. That looking is an active and complicated experience that includes all the discomfort, shock, unsettling of established notions, new ideas and feelings that you appear to have had at the Innovative Women exhibition, and that together can amount to illumination. That is what art does. The problem with walking out of an exhibition is that you miss the many meanings that the works evoke, both separately and together. You miss what they create and unsettle, and therefore the possibility of transformation. Immoral, offensive and going against nation-building … there were children as young as three years old in the room … where do we draw the line between art and pornography. Minister, where does this language come from?


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When you turn to such justifications for your actions, it is our duty as artists, writers, feminists and citizens to point out how revealingly close your words are to those of the apartheid censors. Artists and governments have always had a contentious relationship. Artists can reach into the minds of people and change them. That is a power that states are wary of and want to regulate. But to constrict art is to erase the capacity for imagining what does not yet exist. We need that capacity because our world is imperfect and we need visionary, epiphanic initiatives if we are to succeed in changing it. Art generates epiphanies. So let us name what happened in that brief glance, that instantaneous assessment, that abrupt walking out, and the explanations from your office that followed. Let us name it and its dangers. The name is censorship, and the dangers are reactionary ideas about art and the fueling of homophobia. Fortunately, there is another language for thinking about art and artists. Minister, what would you have seen if you had stayed and viewed the works of Nandipha Mntambo and Zanele Muholi alongside all the other artists in the

Innovative Women exhibition and talked about them with other visitors? You would have seen works that use the language of allusion, intimacy, beauty and pleasure. During your brief glance, you may have mistaken the intimacy in Muholi’s images for pornography and the erudite allusions in Mntambo’s work for carelessness about sexual violence, but that mistake can only be sustained if you don’t truly look at their art. If you stood in front of Muholi’s photographs, you would see lesbian lives outside of the narratives of violation and pornography through which they are more commonly presented to us. You would see how her work opens up a discussion about visibility itself. For lesbians, visibility carries an immense cost – the feminist writer Pumla Gqola calls this a ‘hypervisibility’ that has been used to violate lesbian lives through a sensationalistic focus on suffering that has simultaneously made it possible to ignore that suffering. Muholi’s images confront such hypervisibility and reclaim a space for the women in her photographs away from denigration and hostility and toward presence, pleasure and wholeness. Her work shows us there is no category of human being whom it is safe to despise and whose hurt it is expedient to ignore.


And once the photos existed and came into public view, other good followed. Some of the best new South African writing on art, citizenship and belonging has been sparked by Muholi’s work, including essays by Desiree Lewis, Pumla Gqola and Gabi Ngcobo. You might be pleased to know, Minister, that this new direction has also been traced by a vanguard of the African continent’s finest feminist scholars, among them Sylvia Tamale, Patricia McFadden and Charmaine Pereira. No artist is afraid of being a dissident to conventional thinking. That is their role. Mntambo, Muholi and other artists continuously spark our creative, ethical and political responses, but also our personal and affective ones. We envisage ourselves anew after their art enters our imaginations. If we see someone’s wholeness, can we continue to ignore their violation? The most radical possibility of art is to generate change – and in the process create a more inclusive notion of community. Minister, perhaps unintentionally, your words have generated a great deal of alarm in the world of the arts and among those of us who strongly support the rights of gays and lesbians. We wonder if we are entering ‘our George Bush years’, as Gender Commissioner Yvette Abrahams contemplated on hearing your comments, ironically at a conference on the contemporary meanings of Sara Baartman,

where Abrahams and Muholi argued for the revolutionary possibilities of love and art for directly addressing racism and its violent legacies. Minister, I would like to imagine a different outcome to this controversy. I want to imagine you will come back to the images you walked away from, and look deeply at what you thought you didn’t want to see. I imagine you rethinking received ideas about art and pornography (the great poet and activist Audre Lorde gives us some beautifully nuanced insights on this) and arriving at a hardearned transformation. I think of you reflecting on your responsibilities as the guardian of the nation’s best impulses in art and culture – which is not to limit but to enable such work. Then perhaps this experience of looking again at the thing you didn’t want to see will have brought you closer to the most radical and expansive possibilities of art. Source: Mail & Guardian Online, 9 March 2010




Pleased to Meet You 2009 Installation of 20 paintings Oil on canvas 42 x 37cm each Installation view

A Manifesto (Sobriety, Marriage, Concentration) In recognition of Just How Far We’ve Come,

Pay Close Attention to all that we do,

And Impressed by The Nature Which Allowed It to

Focusing on Minutiae (where Helpful)


And the full Gamut (where Attractive)

Yet, Concerned by the Party Ending

To do Several Things Well,

The Lights Going On

Or One Thing Adequately

And Everyone Suddenly Looking Ugly

To reach Our Goal

We Will:


Continue to sanction Attacks On Bad People.

Until Headaches Develop

Validate the Presence of Good People through

Muscle Cramps Disable


And Back-Break buckles us

Which We Will Champion over Fornication.

Yes we will Work Hard

We will usher in a New Age of Sobriety

For Pay Or No

A Sobriety that is Characterized by

Rewards in Heaven or Reproaches in Hell

Its Proponents Refraining From Preaching It,

Function Effectively, and Perform the Good Work

(Walking without Talking, so to speak)

Leaving Little Time, yet Much Desire

Since, this will not be a moral choice,

For Other Things.

But a Practical Necessity If we are Hoping to:

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye





Leftovers 2008-2010 Photographs by Marián Kusik, publication (Leftovers 1980-1983), found tables and chairs Installation dimensions variable

It went on for three more days. The fruit trees and all the flowers in the garden were covered in dust, as if from a cement plant. Later on they said that the soldiers in the tanks were so exhausted they didn’t know where they were going, what they were doing or very much at all. We kids noticed posters everywhere saying RUSSIANS GO HOME; DEATH TO THE ˇ 1 WILL WIN AND BIL’AK OCCUPIERS; DUBCEK WILL SWING! It was morning, and father was meant to go and collect his medicine or see the doctor for a checkup. As he was putting his shoes on his eyes welled with tears, so my mum decided to go with him.

From time to time, convoys of heavy military machines would pass through our village. The neighbour’s son and I would pick big summer flowers and throw them at the soldiers. They would pass through the village two to three times a year. We would always wait for them excitedly to come back so that we could welcome them again, but they hardly ever did. On 20th August 1968, when I was ten, tanks and heavy machinery rolled through our village. The asphalt road was in flames. The air was heavy with rumbling and bright yellow sparks. I sat with my father on the steps outside the house till the early morning, not more than seven metres from the tanks. Father was calm so I knew there wasn’t a war.

Half through there he collapsed. Some policemen, wandering self-importantly around the village as usual, were on hand. I am not sure whether people were afraid of them or just didn’t like them. Anyway, they were passing by just as my father collapsed. They didn’t help, they just stood there and commented: ‘That Kusik, such a decent fellow but it’s morning and he’s already plastered. Drinking at this hour!’ That’s all they said and then they walked off. By the time I got to him I could only squeeze his hands and feet, he couldn’t recognize me any more. A few days back I took some pictures of him in his vineyard. I used a whole film, some Yugoslavian make: KB-21. Father was good with vines, he could


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grow half a metre long bunches of grapes! He really wanted me to take a picture of him with the crop. I played for Sobrance football team, so I didn’t have much spare time on my hands to take photos of him. But when he told me that a friend of his had one of those American cameras that makes instant images, I agreed. He really wanted me to photograph him. He was pleased that he has a son, born 14 years after his daughters, who can take photographs. He never got to see them. – I was at training, when I was told to report to the barracks. No one told me what had happened. That was the first time I was released after one year there. The first time I could visit home. When I got back, all the higher ranks – warrant officers or basically whoever had been there for a while – started bullying me. No sympathy for the fact that I had just lost my father and that my 37 years old sister had died. I had to sweep the attic of their barracks, in a 5cm carpet of dust. That’s when I felt the worst. When one of your family dies, you can get a transfer closer to home. I was transferred to Michalovce, a town 30 km from our house. There was another phone call for me. I ran to the gate, with only one army boot on… My mother had died. A whole farm was left behind, with chickens and rabbits. I still dream about it to this day. The officers found out about

our vineyard. Three times a week, sometimes even twice a day, I took the bus there. 20 to 30 litres of wine, as much as I could carry, I would bring it to the barracks. Sometimes the bus driver would stop and let me get off right by the main gate. I would give it away to the top brass. Text and photographs by Marián Kusik, published in Leftovers 1980-1983 1

Alexander Dubˇcek was a Slovak politician and briefly the leader of Czechoslovakia, famous for his ill-fated attempt to reform the Communist regime which culminated in the events of the Prague Spring in 1968. Vasil Bil’ak was one of the politicians who signed the letter inviting the Warsaw Pact armies to invade Czechoslovakia in 1968.



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‘Some people would cover the fitted carpets with plastic sheets to keep them looking new and clean. We only did that by the front door. I would always walk over it, avoiding it like a swamp.’


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‘The feeling of stuff looking good and you owning it – that didn’t happen a lot.’



We Decided to Let Them Say ‘We Are Convinced’ Twice. It Was More Convincing This Way Untitled (1982-2007) 19 archival inkjet prints on paper 43 x 56cm each Installation view

In the summer of 1982, I stood along with others in a parking lot across from my mother’s apartment in East Beirut, and watched the Israeli land, air, and sea assault on West Beirut. The PLO along with their Lebanese and Syrian allies retaliated, as best they could. East Beirut welcomed the invasion, or so it seemed, and that much is certain. West Beirut resisted it, or so it seemed, and that much is certain. One day, my mother even accompanied me to the hills around Beirut to photograph the invading Israeli army stationed there. Soldiers rested their bodies and their weapons as they waited for their next orders to attack, retreat or stay put. I was 15 in 1982, and wanted to get as close as possible to the events, or as close as my newly acquired camera and lens permitted me that summer. This past year, I came upon my carefully preserved negatives from that time. I decided to look again. Walid Raad, Beirut/New York, 2008





Untold 2008 Installation with photographs and a video 48 photographs of political prisoners from Nabih Awada’s collection of prison documents (a selection), taken between 1988 and 1998 C-prints 32 x 43cm each Letter to Samir 2008 Digital video, colour, sound 32 min

In 1993 after a series of hunger strikes, political prisoners in Israel were granted a few of their requests, including the right to be photographed, which allowed more than a thousand prisoners in Israel to exchange pictures with their families and with other prisoners. These 48 photographs belong to a former Lebanese prisoner in Israel, Nabih Awada. They were sent to him by his comrades in different Israeli prisons or given to him in Askalan prison, where he was kept from 1988 till 1998.

L  S Communication between political prisoners in different prisons in Israel happened through letters made with msamsameh writing, ie written with tiny letters, as tiny as sesame seeds. These letters discussed security issues especially with the prisons’ central leadership in Nafha and Askalan. The letters were wrapped twice or more with plastic and sealed like a capsule, because capsules used to be swallowed by prisoners in order to be transported secretly out of prison. They were later extracted, cleaned and delivered to a second prisoner, identified to be heading to the designated destination. The capsules were swallowed again before they reached their final destination. In rare instances, capsules were delivered while kissing through the fence of the visiting area. In this video, Nabih Awada writes a letter to Samir alQintar right after his release by the Israelis in July 2008. In his letter, Awada tells al-Qintar all that he cannot tell him in person, and carefully wraps the letter and seals it inside a plastic capsule.


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Country Girls Piet Retief 2009 Silver gelatin print 30 x 40cm Lwazi Mtshali, ‘Bigboy’ 2009 Silver gelatin print 40 x 30cm Madlisa 2009 Silver gelatin print 40 x 30cm

Glamour and grittiness combine in Sabelo Mlangeni’s Country Girls series, an intimate portrait of gay life in the countryside. Mlangeni took the photographs in small towns and rural areas in the Mpumalanga province. Driefontein, Ermelo, Bethal, Piet Retief, Standerton and Sekunda – nodes of mining, agriculture, forestry, and coal-fed power stations. These can be bleak environments where, by and large, township life is rough and poor. But there is also glamour here. Mlanageni brings us images of drag queens, hairstylists at work and beauty pageant contestants parading in an unadorned municipal

hall. These are scenes of aspiration, of making do, fashioning a dream from what is available. Fashion and gay life go hand in hand in Mpumalanga. In fact it is not uncommon to hear of gay lifestyles referred to, with some disapproval, as ‘a fashion’, a modern phenomenon. To some, gays are seen as un-African, un-Christian or the unfortunate by-product of a liberal constitution. But, as the photographs vividly demonstrate, this is only a small part of the story. Gays have also carved spaces for themselves in these unlikely places where they work, love, worship and find community. Gays are both visible and vulnerable, an assertive presence in places that can be accepting or hostile. The photographs in the Country Girls series were taken over a period of six years, from 2003 to 2009. Mlangeni grew up in Driefontein, and he is an insider in this community. His photographs are glimpses of the everyday – whether a passionate conversation, camping it up, posing in a pageant, praying and worshipping, or a figure in a doorway, on the threshold of a new day. Mlangeni provides the viewer with a sharp, incisive insight into gay life in the South African countryside. Graeme Reid Reid is a lecturer in LGBT Studies at Yale University


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Ur-Collage Ur-Collage A1 2008 Collage 40.5 x 43cm Ur-Collage 112 2008 Collage 44.5 x 44cm Ur-Collage 136 2008 Collage 45 x 45cm Ur-Collage 125 C 2008 Collage 44 x 45.5cm

An Ur-Collage is a simple, primitive, prehistoric collage. I want to make collages that are evidence in themselves. I want to give form to the origin (ur-spring) of a collage. They are called Ur-Collage because they are original collages; I would not like to be able to make any simpler collage. The obvious feature of an Ur-Collage consists in its creating a new world from only two elements of the existing world. These two elements or images are printed matter, and it is that which associates the two images, namely, that they are printed matter. One of the elements of printed matter is a double-page advertisement, and the other element is an image printed out on a home printer. I don’t say that this latter image, the picture of a dead, destroyed person, comes from the internet as if it came from another world, because this image is also of this world. The one image is not accused, and the other is not accusing; rather, I want to connect the two images with one another, to bring them together; I want to glue them together into a new worldview. What connects the two elements before I have glued them together is that they are both images of the existing world surrounding me. They are elements, images of our undivided world, of our only world. I live in this complex, chaotic, cruel, beautiful and wonderful world. I want to be happy in it and I want my work to reflect that. The Ur-Collage is a basis for this. I affirm the world in which I live and I want to


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affirm also the negative side of this world. I affirm the world in which negativity is also shown and in which the hard core of reality, of negativity is not bracketed off. I want to show also this hard core. I want to turn toward the negative; I do not want to be a cynic or a cunning devil. I do not want to look away; I do not want to turn away and I do not want to be overly sensitive. I want to be attentive and I want to create a new world alongside and in the existing world. I want to do this with Ur-Collage. It shows that; it asserts that; and it defends that. The Ur-Collage is the form of this newly created world. To make an Ur-Collage means to be in agreement with the world. To be in agreement does not mean to approve. To be in agreement means to look. To be in agreement means to not turn away. To be in agreement means to resist, to resist the facts. An Ur-Collage is not information, not journalism, not commentary. An Ur-Collage creates a truth and I am concerned with giving a form to this truth. The Ur-Collage wants to create a new truth. I love making collages. It is something fundamental for me, something essential. I love the collages of John Heartfield, Hannah Höch, Kurt Schwitters and, more than anything, the three-dimensional Grosse Plasto-Dio-Dada-Drama by Johannes Baader. I make two-dimensional, and also threedimensional collages. I always proceed from two

dimensions. What is important is that I always proceed from the two dimensions of a collage, even when the work is spatial. I never proceed from the space or the architecture. It is simple to make a collage, and it can be done quickly. It is fun to make a collage and at the same time it arouses suspicion: it is too simple, too fast. For many it is not respectable enough and many label it as immature. And so, collages are mostly done at youth. But a collage is resistant; it escapes control, even the control of the one who made it. That is its resistant character. To make a collage always has something to do with headlessness. Precisely that is what interests me because there is no means of expression with such great explosive power. A collage is charged and it always remains explosive. In the case of a collage it holds true that I – as an artist – often stand dumbstruck before it, but it is precisely a matter of enduring this ‘looking dumb’. There is no technique more common throughout the world than the collage – almost everybody has done a collage sometime in their lives. That is the associative element of a collage, that almost everybody, sometime in their lives, has tried to make an image of this world. A collage is something universal and it is an opening toward a non-exclusive public. Thomas Hirschhorn, Aubervilliers, fall 2008



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Black & White Hemisphere 2008 Wood, cardboard, red, white and black paint, transparent and brown adhesive tape, electric cord, foam, toy sheep, synthetic sheepskins, plastic busts, arms, heads and lobes of brains, plastic basin, fabric, prints, trestle tables 330 x 250 x 505cm Sketch (below) and installation views








Obey Seale Most of My Heroes Don’t Appear on Stamps series 2004 Hand-painted multiple, silkscreen and mixed-media collage on paper 114 x 89cm Edition 14 of 20

‘I think the idea of freedom or liberty is really misused for political reasons, but it’s something that resonates with people to the core. People want to be masters of their own destinies, but at the same time, I think they do so selectively. Sometimes they want to be told exactly what to do so they don’t have to think for themselves – as long as they can still exercise their free will.’ Shepard Fairey Quote from Shephard Fairey interview by Iggy Pop, Interview magazine


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Moonlight Black smoke rising series 2010 Single-channel HD video, sound 6 min


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Yield 1997-2010 Sculptures (listed below), 1 000 machetes, 1 000 sickles, industrial strength gloves, Bushmanland earth, rooikat skin, gemsbok horns, found clothing, high-explosive anti-tank ammunition boxes from Angolan-South African war, CCTV camera and monitor, security guard Installation dimensions variable Courtesy of the artist

Cadet 2008/9 Ghost 2007 Official 2007 Convoy 2006/7 Scavenger 2006 Monkey boy 2006 Custodian with surveillance 2005 Harbinger with protective boots 2004 Bird 2004 Hobbled ruminant 2003/4 Small beast 2003 Lamb with stolen boots 2002-4 Harvester 1997/8


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MiddleSea 2008 Single-channel video shot on Super 16mm colour film, sound 16 min

Zineb Sedira: After Saphir, which was shot on HD video, I filmed MiddleSea, a single-screen piece shot on Super-16mm film. They are very similar in terms of their poetic imagery and general mood, but they’re different in their presentation, as Saphir is a two-screen piece. Hans Ulrich Obrist: MiddleSea also takes us away. With Saphir, we are in a specific location – in Algeria – while with MiddleSea, we’re in-between places – in-between Algeria and France. The strange thing about MiddleSea is that one never really figures out if one is going from Algeria to France, or from France to Algeria. It’s what Camille Bryen called ‘n’être qu’entre’ – to be only in-between. Sedira: Yes. It was important for me when creating MiddleSea to move away from the specificity of Algeria. I felt by doing so, the work would be about mobility rather than immigration. I wanted to extend the experience of travelling, outside African or Arab countries. So you’re right, one of the strategies used in the piece is that you don’t know where you are – Marseilles or Algiers. The emphasis is therefore on the space in-between: the sea. It could be any sea, any boat. My work tends to portray those non-identifiable places, with fewer signifiers of my own identities, even if, as a starting point, I’m inspired by my parents’ immigration to France, and mine to England. Obrist: And it allows the viewer to bring in his or her own experience. Extract from a conversation at the Institute of International Visual Arts (INIVA), London, UK, on 24 June 2009, published in Prefix Photo 21: Border Cultures, Spring/Summer 2010




From: Zineb Sedira Sent: 15 December 2009 Subject: Right to reply: Cancellation of the Algerian Pavilion

For the attention of the Standing Committee of the 25th Alexandra Biennale of Mediterranean Countries. I did not answer earlier your letter cancelling the Algerian Pavilion at the forthcoming 25th Alexandra Biennale ‘due to recent incidents committed by Algerian supporters’ during the Egypt-Algeria football game. I thought that this letter dated the 22nd of November was due to a misunderstanding. Two days before the opening of the Biennale of Mediterranean Countries, I am obliged to take it seriously since the event will take place without participation from Algeria. I am devastated to be involved against my will in football rivalries between Egypt and Algeria. I would like to remind you that I am an artist. It seemed to me that our agreement pertained strictly to an artistic collaboration. It was solely within these terms that you had invited me to represent Algeria. It would seem that the Algerian Pavilion has been eliminated from the Biennale because of the outcome of a football match and the subsequent behaviour of supporters ‘deemed indecent and going beyond the custom and practices of the Arab citizen who will always hold fast to the link forged between Arab blood and the Arab destiny’. I am very disappointed that ‘the Egyptian people and especially the intellectuals’ have been so disturbed by a football result that it has affected the successful running of an international artistic



event. I thought that we shared similar values and cherished the capacity of art to cross national frontiers and other nationalist emotions. It never occurred to me to convert the Algerian Pavilion into a football pitch or stand. At the same time as I received your letter of cancellation, the Algiers Fiac hosted an exhibition of artworks containing, amongst others, work by Egyptian artists without any reference to this footballing incident. I can only be disappointed by your confusion. Given the quality of the choice of artists and intellectuals from the Mediterranean world, I had high hopes of the influence that this edition of the Alexandra Biennale would have. I work constantly with artistic bodies all over the world and remain, of course, open to any future proposals the Biennale may make to me, in so far as they remain purely within an artistic context. Yours sincerely Zineb Sedira London, 15 December 2009



Obscure White Messenger 2010 8mm film transferred to DVD for projection 15 min 6 sec

In September 1966, just as Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd was about to address the House of Assembly, parliamentary messenger Dimitrios Tsafendas walked up to him and stabbed him to death with a large kitchen knife. As a listed individual, an alien, a communist, Tsafendas should never have been able to set foot in South Africa. As a stateless person of mixed race, he should never have been made a parliamentary messenger, a position reserved for white South Africans. What drove Tsafendas to commit this act? The state inquest declared that it was madness, not politics. The story went that Tsafendas’ madness was manifest

in his anxiety about a giant tapeworm, a condition he had suffered from for some time. This worm made him do it! The idea that madness and political motive might be mixed up was not entertained by the apartheid state or the public generally. The media made much of the worm. Tsafendas was incarcerated in Pretoria Central prison at the pleasure of the State President for over a quarter of a century. For much of this time he was on death row, his cell adjacent to where people were hung, sometimes seven at a time. If he wasn’t mad when he murdered Verwoerd, this experience – and the regular abuse he suffered at the hands of prison warders – would surely have driven him so. In 1994 he was released and placed in a mental asylum in Sterkfontein. He died in relative obscurity in 1999. Nelson Mandela called Tsafendas that ‘obscure white messenger’. He wasn’t white, and his job as messenger was a mistake, but his act was a historyaltering moment. Penny Siopis


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The Martyrdom of Tsar 2007 Oil on canvas 230 x 200cm

N II  A I wish to console these killed, killed by consolation, consoling. Plant the remains in the ground. Yet they repeatedly return Sever the Head at the third neck. Awaken the new in the old These wand’ring spirits find no rest. Natasja Kensmil Published in R AW Couples, Amsterdam: Paul Andriesse, 2009


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FROHAWK TWO FEATHERS ‘Boss’ Nils of Sameland. Captain of the Emperor’s Frenglish Rifles Sheik Ali Ibn Tulun. Founder of the Colubrid Dynasty and Leader of the Second Zanj Revolt Against Ottoman Rule. 1797 Sancho, Viceroy of New Spain, Surrendering to Captain Lafayette of the Sugarcane Army at Monterrey. 1801 2008 Ink, acrylic and tea on paper 109 x 76cm each

Frengland is a place I created that presupposes that 18th-century England and France never were at war with each other and that they merged into one huge, unstoppable colonial empire. Imagine all the countries they conquered put together. They’d put a flag in most of the world. Frohawk Two Feathers


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ANTON KANNEMEYER Sharp Teeth 2009 Pencil, black ink and acrylic on paper 32.5 x 41cm Spoon Lips 2009 Pencil, black ink and acrylic on paper 32.5 x 42.5cm Women Hostages 2009 Pencil, black ink and acrylic on paper 46 x 40.5cm

W T  S Having a tooth drilled is not a very pleasant business, but next time it happens to you, spare a thought for the boys and girls in the northern Congo, who, when they are fifteen years old, have their upper teeth sharpened. The process, which is done by a native ‘dentist,’ is very painful, as each tooth is chipped to a point with a sharp hand chisel. To have a row of sharp-pointed teeth is considered a mark of beauty in this part of the world. Another queer tooth custom is carried out among the Congo people. When a child loses his first tooth, he throws it towards the rising sun, saying at the same time, ‘Oh Sun! Bring me a new tooth.’ Then he turns to the west, and throws away a piece of charcoal, saying as he does so, ‘Take away that tooth of mine; it is old and I do not want it anymore.’ Of course, as everyone knows, a new tooth eventually grows up in place of the old one, but the Congo boy believes the sun has answered his request and brought it. The Children’s New Illustrated Encyclopaedia, c1950


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Rules of the Game 2000 Table tennis table, bats with national flags, balls with banknote confetti, wooden palettes Table: 100 x 272 x 153cm; installation dimensions variable

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2.5.1 A rally is the period during which the ball is in play. 2.5.2 The ball is in play from the last moment at which it is stationary on the palm of the free hand before being intentionally projected in service until the rally is decided as a let or a point. 2.5.3 A let is a rally of which the result is not scored. 2.5.4 A point is a rally of which the result is scored. 2.5.5 The racket hand is the hand carrying the racket.

2.5.6 The free hand is the hand not carrying the racket; the free arm is the arm of the free hand. 2.5.7 A player strikes the ball if he touches it in play with his racket, held in the hand, or with his racket hand below the wrist. 2.5.8 A player obstructs the ball if he, or anything he wears or carries, touches it in play when it is above or travelling towards the playing surface, not having touched his court since last being struck by his opponent. 2.5.9 The server is the player due to strike the ball first in a rally. 2.5.10 The receiver is the player due to strike the ball second in a rally. 2.5.11 The umpire is the person appointed to control a match. 2.5.12 The assistant umpire is the person appointed to assist the umpire with certain decisions. 2.5.13 Anything that a player wears or carries includes anything that he was wearing or carrying, other than the ball, at the start of the rally. 2.5.14 The ball shall be regarded as passing over or around the net assembly if it passes anywhere other than between the net and the net post or between the net and the playing surface. 2.5.15 The end line shall be regarded as extending indefinitely in both directions. Source: International Table Tennis Federation Handbook 2009-2010


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The Death of Tom 2008 16mm black and white film transferred to video, sound 23 min

Glenn Ligon: I think there’s an interest right now in the performance aspect of artworks, instead of just hanging things on walls. We’re in a moment when a lot of younger artists are looking at work from the ’60s and ’70s – they are looking at the pieces by Marina Abramovic or Vito Acconci. These pieces have a time element. They were performed live. To perform them again now isn’t simply an homage, because it’s a different audience, a different moment. I worked on a film project called The Death of Tom, because I was interested in performance, and also I wanted a different way of using text. The film was based on a novel – Uncle Tom’s Cabin – but it was meant to be a re-creation of the last minute of Thomas Edison’s silent-film version from 1903. I play Uncle Tom. [laughs] It’s funny.

It’s one of those situations where you think you have a great idea and then you’re embarrassed by it. I worked with a cinematographer to shoot it exactly the way Edison’s cinematographer did – on a handcranked camera, black-and-white, 16 millimeter, with a double exposure. There’s a moment where little Eva comes down from heaven to visit Tom. When we cast the parts, there was never a moment where I wasn’t sure I should play Tom. Of course, when I saw the video footage, I thought, Oh, my god, this is the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done in my life. After we shot the film and had it processed, we found out that it hadn’t been loaded properly in the camera. The film was just blurry, fluttery, burnt-out black-and-white images, all light and shadows. But I thought that failure of representation was in line with my larger artistic project, which has always been about turning something legible like a text into an abstraction. And then I realized that the Edison film would have had a piano accompaniment when shown in theaters. That’s when I thought I should bring you into the project. I was very surprised how narrative the film became by the way you played over it. Jason Moran: I was somewhere in Europe when you mailed me a DVD of the film and video documentation of the shoot. I remember watching mostly the video footage and then seeing that last piece – which became the whole piece – which was


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the blurriness. I thought, Let’s see what it would be like if I only played to the failed footage. There’s an Art Blakey saying that goes something like, ‘When you play something wrong, play it loud.’ That way, you really commit to your mistake. I remember I was in Oslo at a sound check. I told the sound engineer to just press record, and I watched the footage a couple of times and played to the shadows. And then I couldn’t believe it when you wrote back saying you weren’t going to use any of the other footage, just the failed footage. Ligon: That’s because the score was so good! In the end, what you see when you watch the film is all the dress rehearsals and various takes of Tom’s death, repeated over and over again. But the way you play to those repeating scenes gives it so much drama and narrative. Moran: Luckily, I got to see the piece at your show at Thomas Dane Gallery in London this past spring. I was talking to people afterward, and the filmmaker Isaac Julien said that your entire show was kind of the first post-election show. And The Death of Tom is like the quintessential post-election piece … Extract from Glenn Ligon interview by Jason Moran, Interview magazine



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PROJECT 22 APRIL – 29 MAY 2010


Neither Here nor There Gold Nobody Knew Me #2 2010 Oilstick and acrylic on canvas 81.3 x 81.3cm Palindrome #1 2007 Neon 20.3 x 266.7cm Installation view with Figure #36, Figure #35, Figure #34 2009 Acrylic, silkscreen and coal dust on canvas 152.4 x 121.9cm each










JO RACTLIFFE Mural portraits depicting Fidel Castro, Agostinho Neto and Leonid Brezhnev, painted on the wall of a house in Chibemba, Angola, circa 1975 2009 Silver gelatin prints 50 x 40cm each

Five centuries of Portuguese rule came to an end on 11 November 1975 when Agostinho Neto, leader of MPLA, proclaimed the People’s Republic of Angola. But it also marked the beginning of Africa’s longest and most convoluted civil war. Divisions between the liberation movements, fuelled by Cold War politics and the interests of other African countries (notably South Africa), laid the foundations for the violent conflict that subsequently consumed Angola for nearly 30 years. It was only after the death of rebel Unita leader Jonas Savimbi in February 2002, during a clash with the Angolan army, that military leaders on both sides agreed to a ceasefire, paving the way for a final political settlement and peace.

mid-1980s – some 10 years after it was written – and a time when South Africa was experiencing intense resistance and increasing mobilisation against the forces of the apartheid government, which was also fighting a war in Angola. Until then, in my imagination, Angola had been an abstract place. In the 1970s and early 1980s, it was simply ‘The Border’, a secret, unspoken location where brothers and boyfriends were sent as part of their military service. And although tales about Russians and Cubans and the Cold War began to emerge – all of which conjured up a distinctly different image from the one conveyed by the South African state – it remained, for me, largely a place of myth. I am currently tracing the routes taken by the South African Defence Force during the war, from military bases in Namibia to the battlefields of Angola. I am interested in how past violence manifests itself in the landscape of the present – both forensically and symbolically. We live in a present space, but one that – as Jill Bennett notes – ‘bears the marks (indelible and ephemeral, visible and invisible) of its history. And as much as we occupy places, they have the capacity to pre-occupy us.’1 Jo Ractliffe

I first read about Angola in Another Day of Life, Ryszard Kapuscinski’s book about events leading up to Angola’s independence. This was during the


Jill Bennett, A Concept of Prepossession, in J Bennett, F Fenner and L Keller, Prepossession. Australia: Ivan Dougherty Gallery, University of New South Wales, 2005


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Inkohliso 2010 Painted wood, stainless steel 3 sculptures (1 illustrated) 100 x 100 x 8.4cm each

‘You find yourself then being constantly pushed back to the alluring hatreds of the past and their call for activism. But then you pause: is it the whites who are responsible for my anguish or is it a black government that is not providing the requisite leadership and delivering the heaven it promised? Protest against a black government could be a form of betrayal. Protest against whites may be safer, but could really be no more than posturing when you discover that in lashing out against perceived white racism, all you are doing is replaying what you were good at in the past: “discovering and unmasking acts of racism” and then assailing them.’ Njabulo S Ndebele Extract from ‘Of pretence and protest’, Mail & Guardian, 23 September 2009


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Lagos, Nigeria, 2027 100 Suns series 2010 Inkjet print on cotton rag paper 250 x 110cm

L From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ( (Redirected from Lagos, Nigeria) Lagos (pronounced | lä g s; l gäs; läg s | overseas or Èkó in the Yoruba language) is a port and the most populous conurbation in Nigeria. It is currently the most populous city in the African Union and is estimated to be the second fastest growing city in Africa (UN-HABITAT, 2026) and the third fastest in the world. Formerly the capital of Nigeria, Lagos is a huge metropolis which originated on islands separated by creeks, such as Lagos Island, that fringe the southwest mouth of Lagos Lagoon, protected from the Atlantic Ocean by long sand spits such as Bar Beach which stretch up to 100 km east and

west of the mouth. From the beginning Lagos has spread on the mainland west of the lagoon and the conurbation now reaches more than 140 km northwest of Lagos Island. There are Lagos Outskirts like Ikorodu, Epe and Badagry and recently more local councils have been created to bring the total numbers of local government to 356. E Driven by substantial oil rents coupled with domestic processing and refining industries, Lagos is often regarded as the centre of finance and trade in Nigeria, and a key player in the Union. Modern development began with the economic reforms in 2014, a few years later than many of the southern Nigerian provinces, but since then Lagos quickly overtook those provinces and maintained its role as the business centre in mainland Nigeria. Lagos also hosts the largest share market in mainland Nigeria. A Lagos has a rich collection of buildings and structures of various architectural styles. The Bund, located on Victoria Island on the banks of what was once the Lagos Lagoon, contains a rich collection of early 21th-century architecture, ranging in style from the monstrous HQBC Building to the sleek Sassoon Memorial Towers. A number of areas in the former foreign concessions are also well developed, most notably the American Concession.


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Lagos has one of the world’s largest numbers of new buildings as a result of the construction boom during the 2010s and 2020s. The most prominent examples include the Dallas Tower and the taller Lagos World Financial Centre, which at 1 892 metres tall is the tallest skyscraper in mainland Nigeria and ranks fourth in the world. The distinctive Oriental Pearl Tower, at 968 metres, is located nearby toward downtown Lagos. Its lower sphere is now available for living quarters, at very high prices. Another tall highrise in Lagos is the newly finished Development Tower. It stands at 1 269 meters. Also in Kosofe, a third supertall skyscraper called the Lagos Tower is under construction, topping the other Lagos buildings. With a height of 2 134 metres, the building will have 732 floors upon planned completion in 2029.



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This Is My Africa 2008 Documentary film 55 min

Zina Saro-Wiwa: What would you like Africa to be like in 2060? John Akomfrah OBE: I would like it to be anarchic, bohemian, fun. There are lots of people who say we do have those kinds of things. Yes we do have anarchy but not the kind of anarchy I am looking for. I am looking for the anarchy that people use as forms of self-expression, not the anarchy that’s imposed on them. Not the lawless stuff. I want the anarchy of the imagination.







Permanent Error




Central Intelligence Agency



Untitled, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2009 C-print 97.5 x 97.5cm


Carbon dioxide


Cathode ray tubes



Al Hasan Abukari, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2009 C-print 97.5 x 97.5cm


Copper sulfate


Electrical and electronic equipment


Environmental, health and safety


Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research





Extended producer responsibility


European Union








Full time equivalent


Silver chloride


Global warming potential






Advanced recycling fee


Hydrochloric acid




Hard drives






Business to business




Business to consumer


Nitric acid




Integrated circuit


Best available technologies









Best of Two Worlds







Degree Celsius


Cooling and freezing

Information and communication technologies

International Organization for Standardization


Information technologies


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Indium tin oxide








Kilogram per capita and year


Sustainable consumption and production


Liquid crystal display




Lithium polymer




Loss of ignition






Sulfur dioxide











Initiative Solving the E-waste Problem Initiative

Ministry of Information and


Tons per year

Communication, Kenya




Municipal solid waste




Non-governmental organizations


United Nations Environment Programme





Nickel cadmium

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

NiMH Li-ion Nickel metal hybrid; lithium-ion


United Nations University


Ozone depleting substances


US Dollar


Original equipment manufacturer


United States of America






Personal computer


Volatile organic compounds


Polychlorinated biphenyls


World Development Indicators




Waste electrical and electronic equipment


Proton exchange membrane


World Factbook


Polyethylene terephthalate




Platinum group metals


Parts per million






Printed wiring boards




Restriction on the use of Hazardous Substances

Source: Recycling: From E-Waste to Resources, United Nations Environment Programme, 2009



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TIMELINE 1990-2010

Compiled by Sithembile Mbete

11 FEBRUARY 1990

Nelson Mandela is released from prison after 27 years. He is greeted with jubilation by throngs of supporters outside Victor Verster prison before being driven to the Grand Parade in Cape Town where he gives his first public speech in nearly 30 years. He presents a vision of a ‘united democratic and non-racial South Africa’ and a commitment to continuing the struggle against apartheid, saying: ‘Now is the time to intensify the struggle on all fronts ... Our march to freedom is irreversible.’


Following a year of political violence in which it seemed the goal of a peaceful and democratic South Africa would not be achieved, the National Peace Accord is signed by all major political organisations. The country’s first multi-party agreement symbolises the transformation of a ‘critical and depressing situation into one of hope’.

15 JANUARY 1992

Four uniformed members of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) enter the South African National Gallery and smash a ceramic sculpture by Gael Neke titled Eugene Terre’Blanche and His Two Sidekicks. The arrested culprits tell SANG director Marilyn Martin that they will not tolerate monstrous images of their leader, and the next time they will come with explosives and ‘blow the place up’.


Bill Clinton is elected 42nd president of the United States, ending 12 years of Republican presidency. His victory by a large margin signals the electorate’s discontent with a struggling economy and its desire for change.

27 APRIL 1994

South Africa’s first democratic elections take place, marking the end of apartheid. Despite long queues at voting stations the atmosphere is one of jubilation and excitement. Images broadcast across the world show people of all races standing side by side waiting to vote, encapsulating the dawn of a new South Africa. Mandela’s words after casting his vote capture the mood of the occasion: ‘It is the beginning of a new era. We have moved from an era of pessimism, division, limited opportunities, turmoil and conflict. We are starting a new era of hope, reconciliation and nation building.’ The ANC wins 62% of the vote, making Mandela the first black president of South Africa. He is inaugurated on 10 May.

24 JUNE 1995

The Springboks win the Rugby World Cup, uniting black and white South Africans in celebration. The image of Mandela, dressed in a Springbok jersey, handing over the William Webb Ellis trophy to


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Francois Pienaar becomes a symbol of South Africa’s ‘rainbow nation’. The event is immortalised by Clint Eastwood in his 2009 film, Invictus. 8 MAY 1996

Deputy President Thabo Mbeki delivers his famous ‘I am an African’ speech on the occasion of the adoption of the new Constitution of South Africa by the Constitutional Assembly. The constitution is considered one of the most progressive in the world and contains an impressive Bill of Rights. Mbeki says: ‘The Constitution … constitutes an unequivocal statement that we refuse to accept that our Africanness shall be defined by our race, colour, gender or historical origins. It is a firm assertion made by ourselves that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white.’

20 MARCH 1998

Mandela appears in the Pretoria High Court to defend his decision as president to set up a commission to investigate racism, corruption and nepotism in South African rugby. The incident sparks racial tensions and spells the end of rugby as the unifying force of the world cup.

16 JUNE 1999

Mbeki is inaugurated president of South Africa following an ANC victory in the elections on 2 June. In his inauguration speech Mbeki makes reference to the African Renaissance, a defining feature of his presidency, saying: ‘We trust that what we will do will not only better our own condition as a people, but will also make a contribution, however small, to the success of Africa’s Renaissance, towards the identification of the century ahead of us as the African Century.’


News breaks that senior ANC officials are implicated in corruption relating to R24-billion in arms purchases involving arms consortiums from Britain, Sweden, Italy and Germany. The ‘arms deal’ becomes one of the biggest political scandals in post-apartheid South Africa, leading to the sacking of Jacob Zuma as deputy president and to the battle for leadership of the ANC.


Mbeki refuses to hold a one-on-one meeting with the Dalai Lama. The decision is apparently prompted by pressure from the Chinese government. The snub is met with outrage from opposition parties and human rights groups.


In an interview with Time magazine, Mbeki reiterates his view that HIV is not the sole cause of AIDS. This comes after nearly two years of supporting AIDS dissidents and refusing to provide antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive people.

13 DECEMBER 2000

George W Bush becomes president-elect of the US following a 5-4 Supreme Court vote that the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling for a statewide recount of ballots was unconstitutional and should therefore cease. The Supreme Court decision brought to an end five weeks of speculation and controversy following the 7 November election. The results of the state of Florida, which with 25 electoral votes would determine the election, had been contested by the Democratic candidate, Vice President Al Gore, because of voting irregularities in four counties. The election is the first since 1888 in which the winning candidate does not win the popular vote.


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Terrorist attacks take place in the US, destroying the World Trade Centre and damaging the Pentagon. Hijackers fly jetliners into both towers of the World Trade Centre in Manhattan causing them to collapse. A third jetliner is flown into the Pentagon an hour later destroying one wall of the building. A fourth hijacked plane crashes in a field near Pittsburgh. Nearly 3 000 people are killed in the attacks, the majority of them at the World Trade Centre. Initially no terrorist group takes responsibility for the attacks but officials suspect the Al-Qaeda group operating out of Afghanistan under the leadership of Osama bin Laden. The US receives an outpouring of sympathy from across the globe. The French newspaper Le Monde runs a headline saying: ‘Nous sommes tous les americains’ (We are all Americans).

25 APRIL 2002

Internet entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth becomes South Africa’s first cosmonaut as he goes into space aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule. His ‘African in Space’ project captures the national imagination with Mbeki calling him ‘a courageous pioneer for South Africa and his continent, Africa. He is the embodiment of the optimism and confidence of a nation to whom even the stars cannot be the limit.’

5 JULY 2002

The Constitutional Court denies the government leave to appeal against a High Court ruling compelling it to provide anti-retroviral treatment to HIV-positive pregnant women. The court rules that provision of an HIV treatment programme is one of the government’s constitutional duties. The ruling forces the Mbeki government to reverse its AIDS policy.

27 OCTOBER 2002

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of the Workers’ Party is elected president of Brazil in a landslide victory. Lula, as he is known by Brazilians, is a former factory worker and labour union leader who has run for presidency three times before. The election of a leftist president causes unease in financial markets and among conservatives abroad, particularly in the US. These fears prove to be unfounded as Lula provides strong economic leadership, presiding over a period of steady economic growth. By 2007 Brazil is counted, along with Russia, India and China, as one of the BRIC group of emerging economic powers with increasing influence in world affairs. Lula also achieves some successes in reversing Brazil’s historic inequalities through extensive social programmes.

15 MAY 2004

South Africa wins the bid to host the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup - the first to be held on the African continent. Mandela describes winning the bid as the perfect gift for South Africa’s 10th year of democracy.


US President Bush is re-elected for a second term. In the same way the 2000 election is decided by one state (Florida), Ohio’s 20 electoral votes gave Bush the margin of victory over his rival, Senator John Kerry. Despite some concerns of voting irregularities in Ohio this election is not marred by the same controversies as 2000.

23 NOVEMBER 2004

Delivering the second annual Nelson Mandela lecture, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu celebrates


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South Africa’s achievements in the first 10 years of freedom but criticises black economic empowerment, quiet diplomacy in Zimbabwe and the government’s AIDS policy. Tutu’s speech provokes a harsh response from Mbeki in his weekly ANC letter and a war of words between the two ensues. 6 JANUARY 2005

Mandela announces that his son Makgatho has died of AIDS, calling for renewed efforts in the fight against the disease in South Africa where over 5 million people are HIV-positive. This announcement is in stark contrast to Mbeki’s declaration in the Washington Post in 2003 that ‘Personally, I don’t know anybody who has died of AIDS.’

14 JUNE 2005

Zuma is dismissed as deputy president by Mbeki. This follows the conviction of Zuma’s financial advisor Schabir Shaik on two counts of corruption and one count of fraud relating to the multibillion-rand arms deal. In his judgment on the Shaik case Judge Hilary Squires said Zuma ‘must have been aware of bribes’ sought by Shaik on his behalf, thus implicating Zuma in arms deal corruption. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) charges Zuma with corruption on 20 June. Zuma’s sacking marks the beginning of a fierce leadership battle between him and Mbeki for control of the ANC and South Africa.

19 DECEMBER 2005

Evo Morales, the leader of the leftist MAS party, is elected president of Bolivia. He is the first indigenous Indian president to govern Bolivia since the Spanish conquest. In his victory speech he says: ‘We have won and now we are going to change this country. All the majority together. The people are finally in power.’

8 MAY 2006

Zuma is acquitted of raping a 31-year-old HIV-positive woman. Zuma’s comments during the trial that he took a shower after having intercourse with the woman to avoid contracting HIV attract harsh criticism as does the behaviour of his supporters who insult and threaten his accuser. Throughout the trial Zuma sings the struggle song Awuleth’ Umshini Wami (Bring Me My Machine Gun). The trial further divides the ANC and fuels the succession battle between Zuma and Mbeki.

16-20 DECEMBER 2007

At the party’s 52nd national conference in Polokwane, Zuma is elected president of the ANC, to the cheers and celebration of delegates. In Zuma’s closing speech he calls for unity in the ANC, saying that his supporters and those of Mbeki should put their differences aside for the sake of the ANC and South Africa. He says: ‘We cannot have a Zuma camp or an Mbeki camp; there is only one ANC. None among us is above the organisation or bigger than the ANC.’

28 DECEMBER 2007

The NPA serves Zuma with papers to appear in court on charges of corruption and fraud, tax evasion, money laundering and racketeering. Zuma supporters question the timing of the indictment, so soon after Christmas and Zuma’s win at Polokwane, arguing that it is proof of a political campaign against him. On 12 September 2008 the charges against Zuma are dismissed when Judge Chris Nicholson finds that the prosecution was tainted by ‘improper political interference’ and was unconstitutional.


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24 JULY 2008

Barack Obama addresses a crowd of over 200 000 at the Victory Column in Berlin while visiting Europe. His European tour follows his winning the Democratic Party’s nomination for president of the United States. Obama reiterates his desire to break from the cynicism and conflict of the past to move forward into a new era of hope. [See ‘Notes on the Exhibition’ (p6) for the quotation from Obama’s speech which lent itself to the title of this show.]


The Sunday Times publishes the controversial ‘rape cartoon’ by Zapiro, depicting Zuma unbuckling his belt in preparation to rape Lady Justice who is being pinned down by the ANC, ANC Youth League, Cosatu and the SACP. It comes in the wake of efforts by Zuma to have himself cleared of corruption charges, thus clearing the way to become president of South Africa.


Mbeki resigns as president of South Africa. This follows a decision by the ANC’s national executive committee to recall him from office before the end of his term after Judge Chris Nicholson implicated him in a political conspiracy against Zuma. Mbeki’s resignation is the final act in the long battle between him and Zuma for leadership of the ANC and the country. Kgalema Motlanthe is elected interim president by parliament on 25 September serving for eight months until the election of Zuma in April 2009.

20 JANUARY 2009

Obama is sworn in as 44th president of the US, becoming the first African American to hold the position. The event is attended by well over a million people and witnessed by millions more through television and the internet. In his inauguration speech Obama calls for Americans to embrace a ‘new era of responsibility’. He says: ‘Starting today we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin the work of remaking America.’

23 MARCH 2009

The Dalai Lama is refused a visa by the South African government to attend a peace conference organised as part of the countdown to the 2010 World Cup, apparently as a result of pressure from the government of China which is an important trade partner. A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs says the Dalai Lama’s visit would not have been in the best interests of the country. Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, a former anti-apartheid activist, defends the government’s decision, arguing that the Dalai Lama intended to make a statement on the secession of Tibet from China. He says: ‘We shouldn’t allow him to raise global issues that will impact on the standing of South Africa.’ Tutu expresses his disappointment at the decision, saying it is ‘a total betrayal of our struggle history’.

1 APRIL 2009

Tutu says he’s not looking forward to the Zuma presidency. Speaking at a function in Durban he compares Zuma to Obama, saying: ‘In the year of Obama, can you imagine what it is like when you are walking in New York and they ask you who will be the next president?’

6 APRIL 2009

Two weeks before the national elections the NPA drops charges against Zuma, clearing his way to become president of South Africa. The head of the NPA says it is ‘neither possible nor desirable for


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the NPA to continue with the prosecution of Mr Zuma’. 17-23 APRIL 2009

The Treatment Action Campaign’s Zackie Achmat gives his endorsement to the ANC in the 2009 election. This comes as a surprise to some given his activism against the party and the government’s AIDS policies. He argues that he will endorse the party ‘in order to fight inside it ... to restore party democracy to achieve social justice, freedom and the rule of law’.

9 MAY 2009

In a remarkable political comeback, Zuma is sworn in as South Africa’s president, bringing to an end four years of a fierce contest for leadership of the country. His inauguration speech is conciliatory, acknowledging the contribution of those who came before him and calling for an end to divisive political conflicts. He says: ‘The dreams and hopes of all the people of our country must be fulfilled. There is no place for complacency, no place for cynicism, no place for excuses ... This is indeed a moment of renewal.’

12 MAY 2009

Zapiro removes the showerhead from Zuma’s head in his cartoons. Initially a response to Zuma’s comments during his rape trial that he had taken a shower to avoid contracting HIV, the showerhead had come to symbolise his inappropriateness for office. Zapiro says he was inspired to remove the showerhead by the ‘mood of optimism’ sweeping the country after Zuma’s inauguration. However, he adds: ‘If he doesn’t perform or things go wrong it will be back on his head.’

1 OCTOBER 2009

Rio de Janeiro wins the bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games, beating Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo. Obama had lobbied for Chicago, his adopted hometown, becoming the first US president to attend an International Olympic Committee session. It had been thought that the ‘Obama factor’ would improve Chicago’s chances but the city was knocked out in the first round of voting. Brazilian President Lula da Silva upstaged Obama, making an impassioned case for Rio to hold the games. The win affirms Brazil’s rise as a world power with Lula saying: ‘I say with all sincerity: our time has come. It has come!’

4 OCTOBER 2009

Obama decides not to meet with the Dalai Lama during his five-day visit to Washington. This is the first time in 18 years that the Dalai Lama has visited the US capital without seeing the president. The meeting is postponed until after Obama’s summit with Chinese leader Hu Jintao in November. This is apparently part of an effort to improve relations with China.

9 OCTOBER 2009

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is awarded to Obama for ‘his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples’. The committee cites in particular his commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons. The win is met with surprise with critics arguing that the award is premature and undeserved because Obama has not yet achieved his goals for international diplomacy. Even Obama expresses doubt, saying: ‘To be honest ... I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who have been honoured by this prize, men and


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women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.’ 14 NOVEMBER 2009

Brazil’s rise as a global power makes the cover of The Economist magazine under the headline ‘Brazil takes off’. The accompanying leader article points to the awarding of the 2016 Olympic Games to Rio as evidence that ‘Brazil suddenly seems to have made an entrance onto the world stage’. Brazil’s success signifies the rise of the BRIC states and the global south in the developing world.

28 NOVEMBER 2009

The Economist publishes a picture of a lonely, seemingly worried President Obama standing on a world map on its cover with the headline ‘The Quiet American’. The headline is taken from Graham Greene’s novel of the same name about an ‘idealistic, clever Quiet American who wants to change the world but underestimates how bad the world is – and ends up causing harm’. Obama is shown as a president who is struggling to live up to the promise and ideals of his presidential campaign. In the same issue, a supplement titled ‘The World in 2010’ contains an opinion piece by SA President Zuma. Sounding confident and capable, Zuma presents an analysis of the challenges and opportunities facing South Africa in 2010.


On World AIDS Day Zuma announces expanded treatment for HIV-positive people and acknowledges the damage the disease has done to South Africa. He likens the battle against AIDS to the fight against apartheid, encouraging all South Africans to take responsibility for their health and get tested. Zuma says: ‘Let today be the dawn of a new era. Let there be no more shame, no more blame, no more discrimination and no more stigma.’


Zuma appears on the cover of Time magazine with the headline ‘The Surprising Promise of Jacob Zuma’. This is the peak of the positive press he has received since taking the presidency.

18 DECEMBER 2009

The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen ends in disappointment. Following 11 days of negotiations the talks result in a weak agreement that acknowledges the scientific case for keeping global temperature rises below 2 degrees Celsius but contains no commitments to emissions reductions to achieve this. The final deal is brokered between China, India, Brazil, South Africa and the US. The deciding role played by the leaders of the global south signals a shift in global power dynamics.

4 JANUARY 2010

Zuma marries for the fifth time in a traditional ceremony at his homestead in Nkandla. His new bride, Thobeka Mabhija, is his third current wife. It emerges that Zuma is also engaged to Bongi Ngema and has completed all the traditional rites required in order to marry her. Zuma’s wedding sparks controversy and debate about polygamy and culture in South Africa.

14 JANUARY 2010

Another Zapiro rape cartoon is published, this time showing Zuma unbuckling his pants to rape Lady Justice while Schabir Shaik and Eugene de Kock hold her down. This follows rumours that Shaik, Zuma’s former financial advisor who was convicted of corruption, and De Kock, the notorious commander of Vlakplaas convicted of killing dozens of anti-apartheid activists, could be


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granted presidential pardons. In the cartoon the infamous showerhead hovers over Zuma’s head. In subsequent Zapiro cartoons the showerhead is firmly reattached. 31 JANUARY 2010

News breaks that Zuma has fathered a child with Sonono Khoza, the daughter of soccer boss Irvin Khoza. The scandal dominates news headlines for weeks. AIDS activists and opposition parties say that by having unprotected sex with a woman who is not his wife Zuma undermined the government’s AIDS policies. The goodwill that he enjoyed in the first months of his presidency seems to have dissipated entirely. The fallout is particularly concerning for the ANC as it comes 10 days before Zuma’s State of the Nation address on the 20th anniversary of Mandela’s release from prison. On 7 February Zuma yields to public pressure and apologises to the nation.

18 FEBRUARY 2010

Obama meets with the Dalai Lama at the White House, angering China and straining US-Sino relations. At the low-key meeting Obama speaks about the importance of preserving Tibetan identity and protecting human rights in Tibet. China responds angrily to the meeting, arguing that it has damaged ties between the two powers, but takes no steps in retaliation.

25 FEBRUARY 2010

The Whitney Biennal, titled 2010, opens. The cover of the catalogue features a picture of Obama, described by guest-curator Francesco Bonami and co-curator Gary Carrion-Murayari as ‘the coolest artist of all’. It is nicknamed the Obama Biennal with its focus on ‘renewal’ and ‘optimism’.

21 MARCH 2010

The US Congress passes a bill reforming the country’s health care system. The bill, which has been the focus of Obama’s first year in office, is a boost to the president, marking a step forward in the fulfilment of his election promises.

3 APRIL 2010

Eugene Terre’Blanche, leader of the right-wing Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB), is killed at his farm in Ventersdorp apparently by two of his employees. It appears that the men attacked Terre’Blanche following a dispute over unpaid wages. The murder comes just weeks after ANC Youth League president Julius Malema sings the struggle song Ayesaba Amagwala (The Cowards Are Scared) which contains the lyrics ‘dubhula ibhunu’ (shoot the boer). Malema is accused of inciting violence against Afrikaans farmers. Terre’Blanche’s murder provokes racial tensions and leads to concerns of a ‘race war’, raising questions about the progress of race relations since the end of apartheid.

18 APRIL 2010

President Lula da Silva of Brazil is the guest author of a Sunday Times editorial. In his piece he writes of the fourth summit of the India-Brazil-South Africa Dialogue Forum which aimed to bring closer the ‘three largest multicultural democracies of the South’. He reiterates the importance of South-South co-operation, saying ‘global (economic) turnaround depends largely on the strength of emerging economies and South-South trade’.

11 JUNE 2010

The 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup, the first to be held in Africa, opens with games in Johannesburg and Cape Town.



was born in 1959 in Johannesburg and lives in Cape Town, where she lectures at the Michaelis School of Fine Art. She has a Masters in Fine Art from the University of the Witwatersrand. Her most recent solo exhibition is Being Human at Galilee Chapel, Durham (2009). Recent group exhibitions include the fourth Tirana Biennale (2009), the 10th Havana Biennale and the first Dojima River Biennale, Osaka (2009). JANE ALEXANDER

was born in 1970 in Leerdam, The Netherlands, and lives in Rotterdam and Berlin. He studied at the Royal Academy of Art and Design in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and at the Rennie Mackintosh School of Art, Glasgow. Recent solo exhibitions: Collateral Damage, Meetfactory, Prague (2009); The Simple Complexity of It All, Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel (2009); New Sites for Personal Structures, Upstream Gallery, Amsterdam (2008). Selected group exhibitions: Burn Baby Burn, Duve, Berlin (2009); I Love My Scene: Scene 2, Mary Boone Gallery, New York (2006); 20/20 Vision, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2004); Nation, Frankfurter Kunstverein (2003). MARC BIJL

was born in 1970 in Charleston, South Carolina, and lives in Los Angeles. He has a BFA in illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. Fairey emerged from the skateboarding scene as a street artist and illustrator SHEPARD FAIREY


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first known for his ‘Andre the Giant Has a Posse’ stickers which evolved into the more famous ‘Obey’ campaign. Fairey’s first museum exhibition was held in Boston at the Institute of Contemporary Art in 2009. Most recently, an exhibition of his work titled May Day was presented as the final show at Deitch Projects, New York (2010). born in 1961 in Cotonou, Benin. He studied at the Rijksakademie voor Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam and lives in Rotterdam. His retrospective exhibition Museum of Contemporary African Art & More travelled to the Museum de Paviljoens in Almere, the Netherlands; the Kunsthalle Fridericianum in Kassel, Germany; and the Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno in Las Palmas, Canary Islands, in 2009/10. Other solo exhibitions include The Street (2009) and Tresses (2007) at Michael Stevenson, Cape Town; Tresses at Iniva in London (2006) and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2005); and Glue Me Peace at the Nobel Peace Centre, Oslo (2006), and Tate Modern, London (2005). He has been selected for the Liverpool Biennial 2010, and showed at the São Paolo, Gwangju, Sydney and Havana biennales in 2006.

at the Hoger Instituut van Schone Kunsten in Ghent, Belgium. Recent solo exhibitions include 4 for Four at SMAK, Ghent, Belgium (2010); 1st and 3rd at Galerie West, The Hague (2010); and Sidestep (2009) at Michael Stevenson, Cape Town, and Brodie/Stevenson, Johannesburg. He showed newly commissioned work at the Luleå Summer Biennial, Sweden (2009).


was born in 1981 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa and lives in Belgium. He graduated with a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Witwatersrand and completed postgraduate studies SIMON GUSH

was born in 1957 in Bern, Switzerland and lives in Paris. He is the recipient of the 2004 Joseph Beuys Prize and the 2000 Marcel Duchamp Prize. Recent solo exhibitions and installations include Universal Gym, Gladstone Gallery, New York (2009); Das Auge, Secession, Vienna (2008); Poor Tuning, Kurimanzutto, Mexico (2008); and Thomas Hirschhorn: Jumbo Spoons and Big Cake, Musée d’Art Contemporain, Montreal (2007). His work has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens; and Pompidou Centre, Paris. THOMAS HIRSCHHORN

was born in Johannesburg in 1976 and grew up in Cape Town where he continues to live and work. He is the winner of the KLM Paul Huff award (2008) and the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Art (2007). Recent solo exhibitions include Nollywood at the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney (2009); The Hyena and Other Men PIETER HUGO


at FOAM_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam (2008); and Portraits at Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool (2008). Group exhibitions include The Endless Renaissance, Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, Florida (2009); Street & Studio: An urban history of photography, Tate Modern, London (2008); and the 27th São Paulo Biennale (2006). was born in 1967 in Cape Town where he continues to live and work. He has an MFA from the University of Stellenbosch. He is a co-founder and ongoing co-editor of the Bitterkomix series, which started in 1992. Recent solo exhibitions: A Dreadful Thing Is About to Occur (2010) and Fear of a Black Planet (2008), Michael Stevenson, Cape Town; The Haunt of Fears, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York (2008). Selected group exhibitions: … for those who live in it: Pop culture, politics and strong voices, MU Eindhoven, The Netherlands (2010); The Graphic Unconscious, Philagrafika, The Print Center, Philadelphia (2010); Africa Comics, Studio Museum, Harlem, New York (2006). ANTON KANNEMEYER

was born in 1960 in the Bronx, and currently lives in New York City. He is a graduate of Wesleyan University and the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. In 2009 he received the Studio Museum’s Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize. Recent solo shows include Off Book at Regen Projects, Los Angeles (2009); ‘Nobody’ and Other Songs, Thomas Dane Gallery, London (2009); Figure/Paysage/Marine, Yvon Lambert, Paris (2008); and Some Changes, The Power Plant, Toronto (2005). GLENN LIGON

was born in 1978 in Durban and lives in Johannesburg. He has an MFA from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He is the Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art 2010. His most recent solo show was This is your world in which we grow, and we will grow to hate you at Brodie/ Stevenson, Johannesburg (2010). Group shows include A Life Less Ordinary: Performance and display in South African art, Djanogly Gallery, Nottingham (2009); and Why Not?, Kuckei + Kuckei, Berlin (2009). MICHAEL MACGARRY

is a performance art collaborative formed in 2009 by Nare Mokgotho and Molemo Moiloa. Their works are tongue-in-cheek interventions that encourage re-observation of and de-familiarisation with the everyday urban routine. In addition to three stagings of Sermon on the Train, their project Gazart culminated in an exhibition at 44 Stanley, Johannesburg (2009). MADEYOULOOK

NATASJA KENSMIL was born in 1973 in Amsterdam and

continues to live and work there. She studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, followed by postgraduate studies at De Ateliers. She won the Philip Morris art prize in 2003. Recent solos shows have taken place at Michael Stevenson, Cape Town (2010); and Galerie Paul Andriesse, Amsterdam (2007 and 2009).


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was born in 1980 in Driefontein and lives in Johannesburg. He graduated from the Market Photo Workshop in 2004 and won the Tollman Award for Visual Art in 2009. Recent solo shows: Men Only/At Home, Brodie/Stevenson, Johannesburg (2010); Invisible Women, Warren Siebrits, Johannesburg (2007). SABELO MLANGENI

was born in 1986 in Johannesburg and lives in Cape Town. He has a BFA from the Michaelis School of Art, Cape Town where he is currently completing an MFA. His work has shown in the Side Gallery series at Michael Stevenson, Cape Town (2010), and at Spier Contemporary, Cape Town (2010 and 2008). MOHAU MODISAKENG

was born in 1977 in Humenne, Slovakia, and lives in Amsterdam. She is a graduate of the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam and the Institute of Creative Photography in Opava, Czech Republic, where she is currently working on a PhD. Recent exhibitions include Unofficial at Leica Gallery, Frankfurt (2009); Why bandits run faster than policeman? at Heppen Transfer, Warsaw (2009) and Instant Women at the Prague House of Photography, Prague (2005). LUCIA NIMCOVA

was born in 1983 in Burundi and lives in Johannesburg. He has a BFA from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, SERGE ALAIN NITEGEKA

where he is currently a Master’s student. Recent exhibitions: Dakar Biennale (2010); Time’s Arrow, Johannesburg Art Gallery (2010); Cargo, Side Gallery series, Michael Stevenson, Cape Town (2009). was born in 1967 in Chbanieh, Lebanon, and lives in New York. He has an MA and PhD from the University of Rochester, and is an Associate Professor of Art at The Cooper Union in New York. In 1999 he founded The Atlas Group, a non-profit research foundation to document the contemporary history of Lebanon. Recent solo exhibitions include The Atlas Group 19892004, Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2009); Scratching on Things I Could Disavow, Redcat, Los Angeles, USA (2009); A History of Modern and Contemporary Arab Art, Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut (2008); and We Can Make Rain But No One Came to Ask, Bell Gallery, Brown University, Providence, USA (2008). WALID RAAD

JO RACTLIFFE was born in 1961 in Cape Town and lives

in Johannesburg. She has an MFA from the University of Cape Town and is a 2010 writing fellow at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, Johannesburg. Her work is included on the opening exhibition of the Walther Collection in Neu-Ulm/ Burlafingen, Germany (2010); and has shown at Warren Siebrits, Johannesburg (2008); the 2009 Gwangju Biennale, Korea; and the International Centre for Photography, New York (2006).


was born in 1976 in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and grew up in Surrey, UK. She currently lives in London where she works as a filmmaker, writer and broadcast journalist. She has made three documentaries: Bossa: The New Wave, Hello Nigeria! and This Is My Africa, which premiered on HBO in February 2010. She is the founder of AfricaLab, a multimedia company dedicated to transforming the way the world sees Africa. ZINA SARO-WIWA

was born in 1964 in Cape Town and lives there. She has an MFA from the University of Cape Town and was the Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art in 2003. Recent solo shows: Across Oceans, Transit Art Space, Norway (2008); Recent Work, Michael Stevenson, Cape Town (2008); Approach, Krannert Art Museum, Illinois (2007). Group shows: An Imagined State, Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos (2009); Beauty and Pleasure in South African Contemporary Art, Stenerson Museum, Oslo (2009); New Photography, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2007); and the 2009 Havana and 2010 SITE Santa Fe biennials. BERNI SEARLE

was born in 1963 in Algeria, is based in London and works between Algiers, Paris and London. She has an MFA from the Slade School of Art, London. Recent solo shows include Currents of Time at Iniva, London (2009); MiddleSea at the Wapping Project, London, and Shipwreck: The death of a journey at ZINEB SEDIRA

Galerie Kamel Mennour, Paris (2008). Her work has shown at the Photographer’s Gallery, London; Mori Museum, Tokyo; Pompidou Centre, Paris; Tate Britain, London; and the Venice Biennale. was born in 1953 in Vryburg and recently moved to Cape Town from Johannesburg. She has an MFA from Rhodes University, Grahamstown. Recent solo shows: Red: The iconography of colour in the work of Penny Siopis, KZNSA Gallery, Durban (2009); Paintings (2009) and Lasso (2007), Michael Stevenson, Cape Town (2007); and Three Essays on Shame, The Freud Museum, London (2005). She has been included on group exhibitions at the San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego (2008); Tate Liverpool, UK (2007); South African National Gallery, Cape Town (2006); and the 2010 Sydney biennale and 2009 Guangzhou triennial. PENNY SIOPIS

(Umar Rashid) was born in 1976 in Chicago and lives in Los Angeles. He has a BA from Southern Illinois University. Recent solo exhibitions include Frohawk Two Feathers at Scenic, Scenic, New York (2009); In the Court of the Crimson King (2008) and Last Night, After the Lights Went Out, We Fell (2006) at Taylor De Cordoba, Los Angeles; 25 Bold Moves, House of Campari, Venice (2006). FROHAWK TWO FEATHERS

LYNETTE YIADOM-BOAKYE was born in 1977 in London;

she completed her postgraduate studies at the Royal


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Academy Schools and continues to live in London. Recent solo shows have been held at Jack Shainman Gallery, New York (2010), Michael Stevenson, Cape Town (2010), and Faye Fleming & Partner, Geneva (2009 and 2007). Group shows include Flow at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2008); Bloomberg New Contemporaries at the Barbican, London (2004-2005); the Gwangju Biennial 2008 and the Seville Biennial 2006-7. was born in 1966 in Saida, Lebanon and lives in Beirut. He graduated from the American University of Beirut and has an MA from the New School University in New York. He is a founding member of the Arab Image Foundation and the Lebanese Association for Contemporary Art and is author of over 30 videos and video installations. Recent feature-length films include In This House (2005) and This Day (2003). Selected exhibitions: Earth of Endless Secrets, Kunstverein Munchen, Munich, Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut and Ludlow38, New York (2009); Mapping Sitting, Grey Art Gallery, New York (2005), and the Torino Triennale (2008), the Venice Biennale (2007), and the São Paulo, Sydney and Gwangju biennales (2006). AKRAM ZAATARI



Joost Bosland would like to thank all the artists, as well as Matthias Arndt, Clare Butcher, Peggy Cooper-Cafritz, Faye Fleming, Dan Flores, Adriana Gonzalez, Laura Gowen, Jennifer Loh, Natalija Martinovic, Kathryn Mikesell, Shaun Regen, Jette Rudolph, Juergen Schwaemmle and the staff at Michael Stevenson and Brodie/Stevenson. Marc Bijl courtesy of The Breeder, Athens, and Upstream, Amsterdam. Thomas Hirschhorn courtesy of Arndt, Berlin. Natasja Kensmil courtesy of Paul Andriesse, Amsterdam. Glenn Ligon courtesy of Regen Projects, Los Angeles. Zineb Sedira courtesy of Kamel Mennour, Paris. Frohawk Two Feathers courtesy of Taylor de Cordoba, San Francisco. Lynette Yiadom-Boakye courtesy of Faye Fleming & Partner, Geneva. Akram Zaatari and Walid Raad courtesy of Sfeir-Semler, Beirut and Hamburg.

Catalogue no 51 June 2010 Cover image Meschac Gaba, Rules of the Game, photographed at the opening of the exhibition, 3 June 2010 MICHAEL STEVENSON Buchanan Building 160 Sir Lowry Road Woodstock 7925 Cape Town, South Africa Tel +27 (0)21 462 1500 | Editors Joost Bosland, Sophie Perryer Design Gabrielle Guy Photography and image repro Mario Todeschini Printing Hansa Print, Cape Town

Forex: This is our time  

Stevenson catalogue 51, 2010