SEX on display at the Stevenson

SEX is the stimulating exhibition curated by Lerato Bereng is currently on display at the Stevenson gallery.

Sexual Narratives: Themba Siwela’s Temptations on Madlala’s pension day fictionally depicts social commentary about black South African sex. Photo: Hazel Kimani

Sexual Narratives: Themba Siwela’s Temptations on Madlala’s pension day fictionally depicts social commentary about black South African sex. Photo: Hazel Kimani

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Beadwork exhibition arrives at WAM

BEAUTY: Traditional and contemporary bead work features at the Beadwork, Art and the Body exhibition. Photo: Michelle Gumede

BEAUTY: Traditional and contemporary bead work features at the Beadwork, Art and the Body exhibition. Photo: Michelle Gumede

 

The bead work exhibition has arrived at the Wits Art Museum (WAM). A variety of bead work created by women throughout southern Africa are exhibited from the 1800’s right up to contemporary times.

“We haven’t had a major exhibition of bead work in the last 20 years,” says Professor Anitra Nettleton, Director of the centre of creative arts for Africa.

Veils, aprons, belts and blankets adorned with abundant colourful beadwork is being displayed at the Beadwork, Art and the Body, Dilo tse Dintshi’ exhibition. Items made by women of various ethnic groups.

The Sotho people are popularly known for their traditional blankets and hats, which are fashionable among everybody.  But not much is known about the bead

work that is made and worn by seSotho women at certain events and stages of life.

Ndebele, Zulu and Xhosa people also have their own style of beadwork. Their symbolism differs in size and colour. The Ntwana people are also represented in the collection. They are an ethnic group that is made up of Ndebele and Tswana people.

August being women’s month, this exhibition celebrates women’s work. Much of which was stolen by imperialists as ethnographic evidence. Much of the artwork has no known artist or definitive date of creation. The only thing that is clear is that Southern African women were the artists behind the works.

Professor Nettleton emphasized that, “in many ways, bead work became women’s work. ”

Recorded bead work dates back as early as the 1800’s. SeSotho women over time have perfected the art of beadwork, making them out of glass, clay and wood. This fashion trend continues today, African women still adorn themselves with beads. Beads serve as a fashion statement and they tell of ones social status.

Certain beads are worn at particular times of a woman’s life stages. Girls wear aprons when they are initiated into womanhood. When a woman marries she is also adorned with a special kind of beaded veil that shows that she is now taken as a wife. Even when a woman dies, she is buried with her beaded jewellery.

Contemporary artists like Zanele Muholi and Andrew Putter also feature their contemporary bead artworks. Men also feature in modern beadwork. Artists like Laduma Ngxokolo  have fused traditional aspects of bead work with modern styles to form  exciting pieces.

Artist Siopis continues to inspire

Globally acclaimed South African artist Penny Siopis opened her latest exhibition Time and Again at the Wits Art Museum on Monday. A retrospective view on Siopis’ 30 years of artwork, Siopis remains relevant and inspirational. 

RETROSPECTIVE VIEW: Exhibition goers take a look at one of Siopis' works. Photo: Katleho Sekhotho

RETROSPECTIVE VIEW: Exhibition-goers take a closer look at one of Penny Siopis’ works at the Wits Arts Museum in Braamfontein. Photo: Katleho Sekhotho

“Where’s Penny? Where’s Penny?” asked curator Fiona Rankin-Smith.

“Oh there she is,” says Rankin-Smith. “It’s wonderful to welcome Penny Siopis back to her second home.”

“Penny” is globally-renowned artist Penny Siopsis who on Monday opened a celebration of three decades of her work at an exhibition at the Wits Art Museum (WAM).

The evening was buzzing with many trying to get Siopis’ attention.

I was able to speak to her for just a few moments before she had to dash off. Kind and sweet, it was the first time I was able to put a face to the woman who had been an essential part in my visual arts learning in high school.

I want to dedicate the exhibition to my partner, my husband Colin Richards, who died very tragically and suddenly in 2012

Indeed the exhibition was focused around her many years of artwork, but more importantly her artwork was a commemoration to her late husband Colin Richards.

“I want to dedicate the exhibition to my partner, my husband Colin Richards, who died very tragically and suddenly in 2012, said Siopis. “He’s a very strong presence in the exhibition as he would be, and he’s also a very strong presence in the book that’s been published to coincide with the exhibition.”

Fellow artist Clive van den Berg introduced Siopis with the words, “Penny it gives me such profound happiness to celebrate with you, in loved ones present and absent, the results of 30 years of work.”

I first encountered the mythical idea of pink pinky as a child and then seeing that depicted in Siopis’ Pinky Pinky series of hand printed lithograph’s felt familiar.

As Van den Berg says: “So when we look at Pinky Pinky paintings or the so-called cake paintings, Penny’s method has already created a bridge for our understanding even before we think of their imagery.

”Similarly if we look at the history paintings which were formed by cutting and pasting illustrations from history books , the method, the sharply cut edges, the disjuncture of scale of association and narrative, tells us viscerally what she is doing before we put into words their basic premise.”

During her opening speech Siopis gave a heartfelt recount of the years of artwork that had finally lead her here:

“I also want to say that Clive has a very special meaning in my life, we were best friends when I first started out in Durban, we taught together … That was the time I made Queen Cakes and some of the earlier cake paintings. So to start this exhibition effectively in 1980 with the Queen Cakes and have Clive open the exhibition, and have Fiona here at WAM, putting a whole show together, is very, very special to me.

“So it’s this whole personal angle which is quite different,” she said.

Sipois said the exhibition includes her work up to 2012, when her husband passed away.

“There have been no works on this exhibition since he died. So for me the physical objects in this space mark his presence as much as my memory of him, and those who knew him at Wits would recognize in the exhibition.”

The exhibition ends on the 20th of July 2015.

Photographer captures KZN beach life

Wits Vuvuzela spoke to photographer Matt Kay, whose photographic exhibition “The Front” opened at the Market Photography Workshop in Newtown on March 25. The exhibition showcases the diverse activity on the beaches of the KwaZulu-Natal coastline.

 

A LOCAL PHOTOGRAPHIC NARRATIVE: Students and lecturers of photography came to the Market Photography Workshop in Newtown to experience Matt Kay's exhibition on Kwa Zulu Natal's coastline.

A LOCAL PHOTOGRAPHIC NARRATIVE: Students and lecturers of photography came to the Market Photography Workshop in Newtown to experience Matt Kay’s exhibition on Kwa Zulu-Natal’s coastline. Photo: Michelle Gumede

Matt Kay has had an extraordinary year. Not only did he receive the 2014 Tierney Fellowship, which supports young photographers to produce a body of work over the course of a year, but he was also mentored by renowned South African photographer David Goldblatt.

“I grew up in Nottingham road in Natal, it’s my memories of Durban that inspired this body of work,” Kay said. His previous works were about public spaces, particularly malls, and the beach seemed to be a natural progression from there.

“I wanted to capture and highlight some of the things that I don’t understand, they captivate and interest me”

With images that span the 15 beaches  of Durban’s coastline, Kay ‘s exhibition captures the peculiar actions and behaviors of people and nature on the beach. “I wanted to capture and highlight some of the things that I don’t understand, they captivate and interest me”.

“Powerful pictures have details,” said Kay. His photographic representations offer detailed accounts of a multitude of isolated and communal activity from religious baptisms, old women taking a dip in the ocean to dilapidated sand statues.

Matt Kay Market photo workshop

BEACH LIFE: Photographer Matt Kay has showcased life on the beach through his exhibition on the beaches of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. Photo: Samantha Camara.

“It is important to document the coastline now, because the sea moves and change is inevitable, that’s why it must be captured now.”

Having left South Africa in 2004 to travel around the world to places like the Caribbean, Kay returned to find a Durban that had become what he calls a “showpiece for tourism”. Something that he says is not reflective of the daily lives of individuals occupying the space.

He lamented that he “deliberately tried to avoid race”, in his work but conceded that one cannot escape the socio-political and historic background of KwaZulu-Natal.

The artist hopes that he represented the space as honestly as possible and that tourists and South Africans alike will start seeing the space in more layered and meaningful way as opposed to the pristine, generic and “kinda fake” way that the space has been represented.

 

 

 

 

VIDEO: Wits Science Week – Opening by Prof Habib

National Science Week presents cutting edge science and technology at Wits University. Prof Adam Habib, Wits Vice-chancellor, opened the event by welcoming students, staff and visitors to the exhibition of innovation by Witsies in the Senate House concourse.

 

 

 

Artists collabo for LGBTI awareness

CRAFTY SYMBOLISM: Onlookers were drawn to the Faces and Faces wall, full of black and white photographs taken by visual artist  Zanele Muholi.                                                                                                  Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

CRAFTY SYMBOLISM: Onlookers were drawn to the Faces and Faces wall, full of black and white photographs taken by visual artist Zanele Muholi. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

Walking onto the eerily silent ramp that leads to the new exhibition at the Wits Art Museum, one is met by death. Small mounds of sand stand,holding up colourful wooden crosses that have dates of birth and death written on them.These graves that lie in glass containers are in the Zanele Muholi’s Mo(u)rning section of the exhibition.

The next piece of the collection, Faces and Faces catches the eye immediately as a wall of black and white portraits look one in the eye. There are some gaps between some of the photographs by Muholi which speak to the nameless but dated graves.

“The spaces were left there to show that they could have been a part of this section of the exhibition if they weren’t killed for being gay and lesbian,” explained facilitator Ace Kekana, whose face appears in one of Muholi’s portraits. Queer and Trans Art-iculations: Collaborative Art for Social Change is a collaborative exhibition by visual artists, Muholi and Gabrielle le Roux. [pullquote align=”right”]”…men who gang rape women, who murder lesbians, who beat their wives – they walk the streets as free men.”[/pullquote]

Muholi’s work is on the ground floor of the museum with a focus on the LGBTI community in South Africa – their beauty, their struggle, their murders and more. Muholi is not only a photographer, so her work varies and in this exhibit includes some of her bead work and a documentary film.

The most elaborate display in Muholi’s section are rosaries that hang from the ceiling. The beads in the rosaries are tennis balls and kitchen utensils. The vertical end of the cross at the end of the rosary is made from a knife which represents the violent killings of members of the LGBTI community experience, and the horizontal end from braai forks to represent the supposed hell killers think they’ve sent their victims to, or perhaps the lived hell victims endure.

This is one of the rosaries that hang from the ceiling. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

This is one of the rosaries that hang from the ceiling. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

“When people kill based on gender they like to say it’s for religious reasons, these crosses represent how dangerous that kind of thinking can be,” said Kekana.

The most moving part of Muholi’s exhibited work is a wall with a number of written messages from victims and their family members about their experiences. One of the messages read: “Here in South Africa you have judges sending women to jail for stealing a loaf of bread to feed her baby, but men who gang rape women, who murder  lesbians, who beat their wives – they walk the streets as free men.”

In contrast to the quiet reception on entering Muholi’s floor of the exhibition, walking down the ramp into the basement area, sounds from the television screens set up with short documentaries by Le Roux lure attendees with their mixed up buzz.

Le Roux’s collection, Proudly African & Transgender and Proudly Trans in Turkey looks at the experiences “trans and intersex people in Turkey and Africa,” said Kekana. Another facilitator, Thekwane Mpisholo is in one of the portraits put on display by Le Roux.

The painted portraits are inclusive of their “subjects” and this can be seen in the quotes the artist let them scribble on their actual portraits.

The newly launched Wits Centre for Diversity Studies, helped to find the funding for this project. “They’re the ones who helped us with the planning and funding because they (Diversity Studies) study things that aren’t ordinarily studied by other faculties – that’s how they came on board,” said Mpisholo.

There is a lot to read, watch and see at this exhibition and people can do so until March 30 2014 at the Wits Art Museum.

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