Johannesburg Art Foundation, Johannesburg
A series of four exhibitions, in honour of South Africa's 10 Years of Democracy Celebration.
Young artists from around the country are taking part in a series of four exhibitions at the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG). The project, held in honour of South Africa's Ten Years of Democracy Celebration, will run from August to November 2004. The four exhibitions will each be marked by an opening event, stressing new strategies in art production, disengaged from standard exhibition format and taking on an ephemeral, mutable element. The project will foreground a new generation of artists speaking from a position informed by the experience of ten years of democracy, and not as influenced by the living memories of apartheid. The shows will therefore address current issues, and demonstrate the art making strategies of a generation who consider themselves to be the products of democracy.
Negotiate provides an inclusive forum for young artists to engage in the nation's Ten Years of Democracy Celebration and to take on the gallery itself. The project enables the JAG to reach a large and varied audience, and cements its image as an active young contemporary gallery as well as the city's established cultural showcase. The project also carries forward the JAG's established concern with engaging the surrounding communities in the life of the gallery.
The theme is taken from concepts of 'Negotiation', integral to the democratic process, using as starting point the construction of the Constitution, specifically the Rights, their Applications and Limitations. The central theme of 'Negotiation' is then played out in the four elements of the project as Intercession, Intervention, Arbitration, and Conciliation.
The project draws on the increasing scepticism and criticality of young South African artists to establish a confrontational point of view, not only towards established art and gallery structures, but also towards representations of democracy and strategies employed to address the celebration in cultural production. Artists have been encouraged to explore Johannesburg itself, as well as the JAG, as spaces for ongoing negotiation; taking into consideration the positioning of the gallery within the city, the area specific dynamic stemming from the relationship / tension that exists between the city's working and living spaces, the commuter networks - both formal and informal, and the diverse cultural make-up of the inhabitants.
Dates for the opening events are:
7 August 2004 Intercession
4 September 2004 Intervention
2 October 2004 Arbitration
6 November 2004 Conciliation
The first event of Negotiate at the Johannesburg Art Gallery, to be opened on Saturday 7 August 2004 at 18:00
The Johannesburg Art Gallery's (JAG) Ten Years of Democracy project Negotiate, which focuses on the production of younger artists from around the country, kicks off next week with the opening of Intercession. This will be the first of four shows. The opening event, which will start at 18:00 on Saturday 7 August, will comprise of a video screening on the outer walls of the gallery, as well as performative artworks and installations throughout the gallery space. The gallery, its location in Joubert Park in the centre of Johannesburg, and its established history and exhibition structures, has to a great extent served as the starting point for many of the artists participating.
The project as a whole investigates notions of 'negotiation' within the framework of the Democracy Celebrations. It foregrounds a new generation of artists speaking from a position informed by the experience of ten years of democracy, and not as influenced by the living memories of apartheid. The exhibition uses the notion of 'intercession' as 'acting on behalf of another', and many of the artists concentrate on its connotations to prayer. As the first show in the project the curators have encouraged a relatively quiet and subtle approach, focussing on delicate interventions into the gallery context.
A performance conceptualised and designed by Strangelove investigates the process of 'negotiation' through human interaction. The performance uses a costume that physically links the two performers together in their movements through the space, giving a visual articulation of the interactions between people.
Hannes Olivier references the idea of 'intercession' by prayer through his intervention into the space of the well known Wim Botha piece Commune: Suspension of Disbelief. His intervention blocks access to the Christ figure with a temporary memorial site containing edited obituaries. The work investigates the notion of place and transitional states, consciously problematising the reading of the icon.
Gallery structures themselves are investigated in an ongoing project by the artist Ed Young. Young highlights the racial dynamics existent in the art world, in a tongue in cheek way, through interference with the curators themselves. His piece, entitled Tan, requires two of the curatorial team, the white males, to attend regular tanning sessions for the duration of the project eventually changing their skin colour temporarily.
Nicholas Hlobo celebrates the freedom now experienced by young black artists in a work to be installed in the gallery fountain bordering on Joubert Park. The Xhosa phrase; 'Inkululeko inje ngamanzi ephalala okwegazi liphalala emzimbeni', in translation approximating 'Freedom flows like water like blood flows through our bodies', will be placed in the flow of the fountain.
A public intervention by Simon Gush, seeks to link the JAG to Joubert Park, through the installation of telephone cables running from the gallery into the park. The use of telephone cables directly references lines of communication. As the cables do not work, the piece fails in connecting the park to the gallery, and will most likely be stolen. It thus examines the dynamics between the gallery and the park and comments on the gestures of the JAG to integrate with the park as often being unsuccessful due to the high crime rate in the area.
Intercession closes on 29 August 2004, and is to be followed by Intervention which runs from 4 September 2004 to 27 September 2004, Arbitration, running from 2 October 2004 to 31 October 2004, and Conciliation, which opens 6 November 2004 and concludes the project on 30 November 2004.
Contact: Hanli Becker
51 Seventh Street
Tel: (083) 400 8773
Fax: (011) 888 7200
Or: Johannesburg Art Gallery
Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm
The Johannesburg Art Gallery
Klein Street, Joubert Park, Johannesburg