Real-life exhibit wins artist award

Undergraduate stands out among 13 finalists in a creative art exhibition for Witsies. 

A third-year fine arts student won the Wits Young Artist Award 2019 for his performative display on Thursday, July 25, at The Point of Order art gallery in Braamfontein.

Adrian Fortuin won a cash prize of R10 000 for The readymade, made ready, his exhibit of a real-life security person guarding a trophy on a podium.

INVISIBLE: A security guard was part of Adrian Fortuin’s winning exhibit. Photo: Provided

The Wits Young Artist Award (formerly known as the Martienssen Prize) is compulsory for visual art students who are in third or fourth year. It was introduced in the 1980s and is focused on “rethinking and re-imagining what an art award means in a pan-African university”, according to Reshma Chhiba, one of three co-ordinators of the exhibition.

Fortuin told Wits Vuvuzela that, “I’ve been thinking about this idea of competition in a gallery space and creating work that will comment on the kind of situation or social structure that becomes part of the gallery when a competition is involved.”

The 24-year-old said he wanted to create something that was interactive to audiences and critique the idea that an art object needs to be something on a wall.

“It was very interesting because you normally think of security guards to almost be part of the structure of an institution.

“They kind of fall into the background and I think that did happen [at the exhibition]. There was very little interaction with the security guard,” the Johannesburg-born artist said.

A friend of the winner and fine art student, Riley Grant, said Fortuin has the “ability to articulate complex ideas in a seemingly simple, accessible and often humorous way”.

This year’s two panels were made up of professionals in the arts and creative industry. Over 50 entries were received and the selection panel, consisting of artist Nandipha Mntambo and filmmaker Dylan Valley, chose the 13 finalists.  The winner was then chosen by the judging panel which was made up of genderqueer artist, Dean Hutton, lecturer Dr. Dee Marco and artist Mary Sibande.

Chhiba said the adjudication panels were independent of Wits staff in order to avoid a biased approach as well as to allow the students exposure into the industry.

Adrian Fortuin is a third-year student who has won the Wits Young Artist Award of 2019. Photo: Ortal Hadad

The first runner-up was Hemali Khoosal who created a digital video installation commenting on the refugee crisis in Europe. She contrasted visuals of the sea with a father discussing his child’s mixed identity.

Mzoxolo Mayongo and Adilson De Oliveira of the MAGOLIDE collective were the second runner-up with their virtual reality interaction that focused on African histories and landscapes.

Jessica Jindrich, a finalist, said the competition allowed students to find a junction between the academic world and reality.

“I think exhibitions such as Wits Young Artist Award are important as initial platforms for the work we are producing. [They] start the conversations we want to be having, without the interaction being too insular,” said the fourth-year fine arts and psychology student.

The exhibition can be viewed by appointment at The Point of Order art gallery until August 8.

FEATURED IMAGE: Adrian Fortuin is a third-year student who has won the Wits Young Artist Award of 2019. Photo: Ortal Hadad



Witsies eye Miss SA crown

Miss South Africa contestants receive valuable life-skills as they prepare for the final event

Two Wits students are part of 16 finalists that will be vying for the title of Miss South Africa at the Sun Arena on August 9.

Twenty-two-year-old LLB student, Errin Brits, who was crowned Miss Varsity Shield 2016 told Wits Vuvuzela that the pageant had always interested her. She entered this year because she found the online entry process simpler than previous years, and she decided to give it a shot.

Sasha-Lee Olivier, a 26-year-old Wits Plus Marketing and Psychology student, said she concentrated on remaining truthful to what she stood for – women empowerment.

“There is power in embracing all that you are, whether it is your story, what you are passionate about or your body shape,” said Olivier, who is also a model.

Should she win, Brits would like to go on a first-aid roadshow that targets 10-year-olds. “I would like to equip children with the basic skills, like how to call an ambulance, what to say and how to make time count when it is of the essence,” said the finalist whose inspiration was her first job as a rugby-club first aider when she was 14.

Spokesperson of the Miss South Africa organisation, Stephanie Weil, told Wits Vuvuzela that the finalists were taught invaluable skills by experts, including “media training, self-defence and grooming”.

For Brits, the training has helped her get in tune with herself, as well as learn how to connect with others, while Olivier said the experience had made her realise that there

were many women out there who were trying to make a difference.

Weils said the pageant was about celebrating women. “It remains relevant by giving young women a real opportunity and wonderful role models.”

Reigning Miss Wits Varsity Cup Reo Brydges said she was optimistic about both women’s chances at winning Miss South Africa and potentially even Miss Universe.

“I think these girls are ideal candidates because they are the epitome of an esteemed woman, setting a great example for the youth of South Africa,” said 21-year-old Brydges.

FEATURED IMAGE: Sasha-Lee Olivier (left) and Errin Brits (left) and are finalists for Miss South Africa 2019. Photo: Miss SA