It takes a foreign sensibility to see Joburg’s suburban streets with new eyes. And I highly recommend it. On Friday morning we joined artists Susanne Kudielka and Kaspar Wimberley for a walk through Parkwood. Not your average walk, as we were encased in a cardboard Volkswagen Citi Golf. The two Stuttgart-based artists have been working as “artists-in-residence” at the Goethe-Institut for the past six weeks. They arrived in Joburg intending to look at the theme of security.
From beaded guard dogs to the fake ivy that doubles up as vicious spikes on suburb walls, they spent their time taking in the many ways and aesthetics in which people in this city protect their homes from outside invasion. Whether the threat is real or imagined…
Yesterday the route to Goodman Gallery along Jan Smuts Avenue appears to have been lovebombed. In the same spot where a week ago a spear became a smear that caused such great fear some shweshwe prints, a few chunky knits, lots of stitches and a flurry of hearts festooned the trees and street poles leading to the Gallery between Denbigh and Chester Road along Jan Smuts Avenue. If you drive past, just smile. I did.
Artist Hermann Niebuhr’s Johannesburg is many cities. All of them familiar, but each distinctive in its difference.
At his Fordsburg studio, the more than 30 versions hang in one room, a dizzying display of colour and light. There are cityscapes, and the traces of cityscapes, geometric lines that compose Johannesburg’s most famous landmarks and that, on closer inspection, fracture and break apart. In each the sky and city are entangled, the light washing over the buildings warming the city or darkening it, making it appear in turns welcoming, and then coldly foreboding, making it appear real.
For Johannesburg is in some ways an unknowable city, a city of concealment, and of surprises, where hipsters rub shoulders with church prophets and you can find a sheep’s head as easily as you can a pair of Italian brogues. Surfaces are only to be taken for the whole at your own peril. Continue reading →
There was something disturbing about listening to Tate Modern’s Chris Dercon at the FNB Joburg Art Fair this weekend. Dercon’s talk was titled “Audiences: How much do we really care?”. It’s a good question, and one that requires an urgent response in a world where every medium, be it visual arts or newspapers and everything in between is being challenged by an economy ruled by a surplus of information and a deficit of attention.
Tate Modern Director Chris Dercon, photo from vintageyoga.typepad.com (who clearly got it from somewhere else)
The last time I wrote about artist Willem Boshoff I called him a messiannic bergie, and I meant that in the nicest possible way. Last night he was at it again, this time outside the Goodman Gallery in Parkwood, as the crowds rolled in for the opening of his latest exhibition SWAT.