03
Oct
13

Exhibition: ‘Distance and Desire: Encounters with the African Archive Part II’ at The Walther Collection, Neu-Ulm, Germany

Exhibition dates: 9th June 9 2013 – 17th May 2015

.

This is the last in my trilogy of postings on exhibitions titled Distance and Desire which have featured African art from The Walther Collection, this time focusing on contemporary art.

It is quite instructive to compare this posting with the last, the exhibition My Country, I Still Call Australia Home: Contemporary Art from Black Australia at The Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane. I feel (a critical word) that there is a completely different atmosphere to most of this contemporary art when compared to the Australian iteration. Despite both groups surviving horrendous experiences and the ongoing memories of those acts, there seems to be a lightness of spirit to most of the contemporary African art, a delightful irony, a self deprecating humour, a less backward looking sadness than evidenced in the Australian work.

Of course there are intense moments when contemporary artists mine (and that is an appropriate word, for many Africans worked in servitude in the mines during the Apartheid period) the colonial archive, such as Carrie Mae Weems blood red tondos, You Became a Scientific Profile / An Anthropological Debate / A Negroid Type / A Photographic Subject (1995-1996, below) but what is more in evidence here is a dramatic sense of fashion and the performative and playful manner in which contemporary African identities are explored coupled with a strength in the representation of these identities. These are strong, forthright individuals not hidden off camera or dressed up in European dreamings imagin(in)g utopian “what ifs”; not the obvious crosses on black chests or deleted, delineated faces made of gum blossoms – but vital, alive, present human beings. While both groups of artists use traditional symbology to explore issues of identity and representation, the Australian version often seems dragged down by the portrayed dichotomy between past and present, traditional and contemporary/subversive, as though there must always be a reckoning, a longing, a sadness constantly reiterated in/with the past.

.
Many thankx to The Walther Collection for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. All images Courtesy of The Walther Collection.

.

Part II: Contemporary Reconfigurations

.

.

Pieter Hugo. 'Nandipha Mntambo, Cape Town' 2012

.

Pieter Hugo
Nandipha Mntambo, Cape Town
2012
from There’s a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends

.

Pieter Hugo’s There’s a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends is a series of close-up portraits of the artist and his friends, all of whom call South Africa home. Through a digital process of converting colour images to black and white while manipulating the colour channels, Hugo emphasizes the pigment (melanin) in his sitters’ skins so they appear heavily marked by blemishes and sun damage. The resulting portraits are the antithesis of the airbrushed images that determine the canons of beauty in popular culture, and expose the contradictions of racial distinctions based on skin colour. As the critic Aaron Schuman writes, “although at first glance we may look ‘black’ or ‘white’, the components that remain ‘active’ beneath the surface consist of a much broader spectrum. What superficially appears to divide us is in fact something that we all share, and like these photographs, we are not merely black and white – we are red, yellow, brown, and so on; we are all, in fact, coloured.”

Text from the Stevenson Gallery website

.

Sammy Baloji. 'Untitled 7' 2006

.

Sammy Baloji
Untitled 7
2006
from Mémoires

.

Sabelo Mlangeni. 'Outside King Mswati's palace' 2011

.

Sabelo Mlangeni
Outside King Mswati’s palace
2011
from Iimbali

.

Sabelo Mlangeni. 'Imbali' 2011

.

Sabelo Mlangeni
Imbali
2011
from Iimbali

.

David Goldblatt. 'Mineworkers in their hostel, Western Deep Levels, Carletonville' 1970

.

David Goldblatt
Mineworkers in their hostel, Western Deep Levels, Carletonville
1970

.

Pieter Hugo. 'Yasser Booley, Cape Town' 2011

.

Pieter Hugo
Yasser Booley, Cape Town
2011
from There’s a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends

.

Pieter Hugo. 'Pieter Hugo, Cape Town' 2011

.

Pieter Hugo
Pieter Hugo, Cape Town
2011
from There’s a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends

.

Pieter Hugo. 'Themba Tshabalala, Cape Town' 2011

.

Pieter Hugo
Themba Tshabalala, Cape Town
2011
from There’s a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends

.

Guy Tillim. 'Mai Mai militia in training near Beni, eastern DRC, for immediate deployment with the APC (Armée Populaire du Congo), the army of the RCD-KIS-ML - Portraits I and II' December 2002

.

Guy Tillim. 'Mai Mai militia in training near Beni, eastern DRC, for immediate deployment with the APC (Armée Populaire du Congo), the army of the RCD-KIS-ML - Portraits I and II' December 2002

.

Guy Tillim
Mai Mai militia in training near Beni, eastern DRC, for immediate deployment with the APC (Armée Populaire du Congo), the army of the RCD-KIS-ML – Portraits I and II
December 2002

.

Sabelo Mlangeni. 'Lwazi Mtshali, "Bigboy"' 2009

.

Sabelo Mlangeni
Lwazi Mtshali, “Bigboy”
2009
from Country Girls

.

Sabelo Mlangeni. 'Xolani Ngayi, eStanela' 2009

.

Sabelo Mlangeni
Xolani Ngayi, eStanela
2009
from Country Girls

.

Zanele Muholi. 'Amogelang Senokwane, District Six, Cape Town' 2009

.

Zanele Muholi
Amogelang Senokwane, District Six, Cape Town
2009
from Faces and Phases

.

Zanele Muholi. 'Sishipo Ndzuzo, Embekweni, Paarl' 2009

.

Zanele Muholi
Sishipo Ndzuzo, Embekweni, Paarl
2009
from Faces and Phases

.

.

“The Walther Collection is pleased to announce Part II of Distance and Desire: Encounters with the African Archive, a three-part exhibition series curated by Tamar Garb. “Contemporary Reconfigurations” offers new perspectives on the African photographic archive, reimagining its diverse histories and changing meanings. The exhibition centers on photography and video by African and African American artists who engage critically with the archive through parody, appropriation, and reenactment.

Carrie Mae Weems introduces the themes of “Contemporary Reconfigurations” with her powerful series From Here I Saw What Happened And I Cried, a revision of nineteenth and twentieth-century anthropometric photographs of African Americans, overlaid with texts by the artist. Sammy Baloji, Candice Breitz, Zwelethu Mthethwa, and Zanele Muholi rethink the ethnographic archive in large-scale color prints, while Samuel Fosso and Philip Kwame Apagya create exuberant studio portraiture.

Sabelo Mlangeni’s black and white photo-essay, Imbali, documents the reed dances of KwaZulu-Natal, showing the display of virgins vying to be chosen as brides. Pieter Hugo’s series There’s a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends examines ethnicity and skin tonalities through anthropological mug shots. Working in video, Berni Searle performs as a statuesque deity engaged in domestic labor in “Snow White,” and Andrew Putter gives an indigenous voice to the effigy of Marie van Riebeeck, wife of the first Dutch settler in the area known today as Cape Town, in “Secretly I Will Love You More.”

For this group of artists, a stereotype or ethnographic vision in one era may provide material for quotation, irreverent reworking, or satirical performance in another. Illustrating how the African archive – broadly understood as an accumulation of representations, images, and objects – figures in selected contemporary lens-based practices, the exhibition stages a dialogue between the distance of the past and the desiring gaze of the present.”

Press release from The Walther Collection website

.

Zwelethu Mthethwa. 'Untitled' 2010

.

Zwelethu Mthethwa
Untitled
2010
from The Brave Ones
Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

.

Samuel Fosso. 'La femme américaine libérée des années 70' 1997

.

Samuel Fosso
La femme américaine libérée des années 70
1997

.

Samuel Fosso. 'Le Chef qui a vendu l'Afrique aux colons' 1997

.

Samuel Fosso
Le Chef qui a vendu l’Afrique aux colons
1997

.

Zanele Muholi. 'Miss D'vine I' 2007

.

Zanele Muholi
Miss D’vine I
2007

.

Zanele Muholi. 'Miss D'vine II' 2007

.

Zanele Muholi
Miss D’vine II
2007

.

Candice Breitz. 'Ghost Series #9' 1994-1996

.

Candice Breitz
Ghost Series #9
1994-1996

.

Candice Breitz. 'Ghost Series #4' 1994-1996

.

Candice Breitz
Ghost Series #4
1994-1996

.

Carrie Mae Weems. 'You Became a Scientific Profile / An Anthropological Debate / A Negroid Type / A Photographic Subject' 1995-1996

.

Carrie Mae Weems
You Became a Scientific Profile / An Anthropological Debate / A Negroid Type / A Photographic Subject
1995-1996
from From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried
Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

.

Andrew Putter. 'Secretly I Will Love You More' 2007 (video still)

.

Andrew Putter
Secretly I Will Love You More (video still)
2007
Courtesy of the artist and Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg

.

Sue Williamson. 'Helen Joseph' 1983

.

Sue Williamson
Helen Joseph
1983
from A Few South Africans

.

Helen Beatrice Joseph (née Fennell) (8 April 1905 – 25 December 1992) was a South African anti-apartheid activist.

Helen Joseph was born in Easebourne near Midhurst West Sussex, England and graduated from King’s College London, in 1927. After working as a teacher in India for three years, Helen came to South Africa in 1931, where she met and married a dentist, Billie Joseph. In 1951 Helen took a job with the Garment Workers Union, led by Solly Sachs. She was a founder member of the Congress of Democrats, and one of the leaders who read out clauses of the Freedom Charter at the Congress of the People in Kliptown in 1955. Appalled by the plight of black women, she was pivotal in the formation of the Federation of South African Women and with the organisation’s leadership, spearheaded a march of 20,000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against pass laws on August 9, 1956. This day is still celebrated as South Africa’s Women’s Day.

She was a defendant at the 1956 Treason Trial. She was arrested on a charge of high treason in December 1956, then banned in 1957. The treason trial dragged on for four years but she was acquitted in 1961. In spite of her acquittal, in 13 October 1962, Helen became the first person to be placed under house arrest under the Sabotage Act that had just been introduced by the apartheid government. She narrowly escaped death more than once, surviving bullets shot through her bedroom and a bomb wired to her front gate. Her last banning order was lifted when she was 80 years old. Helen had no children of her own, but frequently stood in loco parentis for the children of comrades in prison or in exile. Among the children who spent time in her care were Winnie and Nelson Mandela’s daughters Zinzi and Zenani and Bram Fischer’s daughter Ilsa. Helen Joseph died on the 25 December 1992 at the age of 87. (Text from Wikipedia)

.

Sue Williamson. 'Miriam Makeba' 1987

.

Sue Williamson
Miriam Makeba
1987
from A Few South Africans

.

Miriam Makeba (4 March 1932 – 9 November 2008), nicknamed Mama Africa, was a Grammy Award-winning South African singer and civil rights activist.

In the 1960s, she was the first artist from Africa to popularize African music around the world. She is best known for the song “Pata Pata”, first recorded in 1957 and released in the U.S. in 1967. She recorded and toured with many popular artists, such as Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon, and her former husband Hugh Masekela. Makeba campaigned against the South African system of apartheid. The South African government responded by revoking her passport in 1960 and her citizenship and right of return in 1963. As the apartheid system crumbled she returned home for the first time in 1990. Makeba died of a heart attack on 9 November 2008 after performing in a concert in Italy organised to support writer Roberto Saviano in his stand against the Camorra, a mafia-like organisation local to the region of Campania. (Text from Wikipedia)

.

Kudzanai Chiurai. 'The Black President' 2009

.

Kudzanai Chiurai
The Black President
2009

.

Zanele Muholi. 'Ms Le Sishi I, Glebelands, Durban' January 2010

.

Zanele Muholi
Ms Le Sishi I, Glebelands, Durban
January 2010
from Beulahs (Beauties)

.

Zanele Muholi. 'Martin Machapa' 2006

.

Zanele Muholi
Martin Machapa
2006
from Beulahs (Beauties)

.

Philip Kwame Apagya. 'Come on Board' 2000

.

Philip Kwame Apagya
Come on Board
2000

.

Philip Kwame Apagya. 'After the Funeral' 1998

.

Philip Kwame Apagya
After the Funeral
1998

.

.

The Walther Collection
Reichenauer Strasse 21
89233 Neu-Ulm, Germany

Opening hours:
Thurs – Sunday by appointment and with guided tour only
Public tours Saturday and Sunday at 3pm by appointment only

The Walther Collection website

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top



Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Études’ 1994

Join 2,210 other followers

Follow Art_Blart on Twitter
Art Blart on Pinterest

Lastest tweets

Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

October 2013
M T W T F S S
« Sep   Nov »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

Archives

Categories


%d bloggers like this: