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Victory-etc-2015-web

‘A luta continua ( Victory etc.)’ 2015
Johan Thom
Medium: Site specific intervention in mixed media for the conference ‘Art of Wagnis: Christoph Schlingensief’s Crossing of Wagner and Africa’ held at Iwalewahaus, Bayreuth, Germany, 4-6 Dec 2015

This artistic intervention is based upon a creative re-reading of the political slogan A luta continua, vitória é certa (The struggle continues, victory is certain). Historically this political slogan is associated with Mozambique’s armed struggle for independence from Portugal during the mid to nineteen seventies. To be specific, the slogan is considered the political rallying cry of Samora Michel, the erstwhile leader of the Frente de Libertação de Moçambique or Frelimo.

During the recent student protests against the rising costs of tertiary education in South Africa this slogan was often appropriated by students and their various supporters, appearing in social media on handmade posters in shorthand form simply as ‘A luta continua’. In this particular form, the slogan does not make explicit the possibility of victory, leaving instead the rather dispiriting possibility of a never-ending struggle. However, I think it may well be argued that the obverse is also true – that contemporary South African students are deeply aware of just how naive any hope for victory singular and total appears today.

By replacing the second part of the slogan ‘é certa’ with the term ‘etc’ (‘et cetera’) I wish to playfully shift the meaning of the original slogan into a somewhat humorous even self-critical statement that encapsulate elements of all the aforementioned (the history of the slogan, its appropriation and conditional re-employ in the present post-revolutionary moment). Today victory is no longer certain and nor is it understood as being the sole outcome of any revolutionary, anti-colonial struggle: instead it is joined by a host of other possible outcomes and post-colonial narratives, some of which have become all too familiar. In this regard, although the term ‘et cetera’ is mostly understood as meaning something to the effect of ‘and other related things’, at least one of the more discrete meanings inherent in its usage is the idea that the unspoken, or absent, terms it stands in for are so well known that it would be a waste of time to include them in full. In this way, the modified slogan embodies a form of cynicism borne from our familiarity with the disappointing, even wholly fatigued socio-cultural and political narratives and realities that have become the hallmarks of the post-revolutionary moment (the debt-ridden, corrupt post-colonial regime, the contemporary neo-colonial, capitalist sell-out of principals, assets, land and services et cetera).

Lastly, this artistic intervention is a meditation on the possibility of art to defamiliarise otherwise commonplace, accepted ideas, forms and meanings. In this much the work seeks to celebrate the fearless capacity of contemporary art to generate creative space for imaginative journeys into an unfamiliar future, an ‘etc.’ that signals space to explore, imagine and complete existing ideas without reifying the familiar.

Art cannot pray in the church of fear.

In memory of Christophe Schlingensief (1960-2010).

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Terms of endearment by Johan Thom

Video still 1 ‘Terms of endearment’ Johan Thom, 2007

At Iwalewahaus for a 3 day festival/ screening of ‘The film will always be you’ curated by Abrie Fourie​ and Zoe Whitley​ as of this Saturday. Then for some mischevious fun with a dark performance as part of the conference program for ‘Art of Wagnis’ dedicated to the life and work of provocateur Christoph Schlingensief.

More details about the ‘Art of Wagnis’ conference here:

http://www.iwalewa.uni-bayreuth.de/de/program/20151204_Schlingensief-Tagung/index.html

and for ‘The Film will always be you’ here:

http://www.iwalewa.uni-bayreuth.de/de/program/20151127_Film-Will-Always-Be-Yo/index.html

 

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Roger Ballen, Cat in fish tank, Silver Gelatin Print, 40cm x 40 cm, 2000

Roger Ballen, Cat in fish tank, Silver Gelatin Print, 40cm x 40 cm, 2000

Johan Thom will be in conversation with inimitable photographer Roger Ballen tonight @ 18h30 as part of his book launch for the new and expanded edition of Outland (2001).

The selection of photographs on exhibition in the Collector’s Room was primarily curated around aesthetic concerns. These would include formal aspects of the work such as the use of line, light and dark tones, composition and so forth.

From a curatorial perspective we feel that the socio-cultural and political dimensions of the work have been explored in great depth. We implicitly accept and understand that Ballen’s work has a deeply political grounding and touches a raw nerve in the politics of representation in post-apartheid South Africa – especially where it concerns issues of whiteness racially speaking (of what it represents or should represent) and of ethics (of power relationship between the photographer and his subjects), for example.

The questions that Thom will touch on during this interview concern the particularity of Ballen’s artistic vision – the photographs as artworks the photographer as an artist. He says about the interview: “I hope to expose if only partially something of Ballen’s artistic working methods and processes, i.e. making; conceptualizing; selecting and generally creating the imaginative world that has become the hallmark of his artistic output since the time of first publishing Outland in 2001”.

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  • Johan Thom Terms of Endearment 2007 Video still © Johan Thom, courtesy the artist

Little known outside of South Africa, the Johannesburg Free Filmmakers Cooperative was a loose association of filmmakers in the 1980s, among them artist William Kentridge. The very act of filmmaking as a vital outlet for self-expression caused Kentridge to recognise that ‘you yourself will be the film and the film will always be you.’ This three-day programme of screenings launches with Free Filmmakers’ experimental 1986 documentary and is followed by a selection of 25 contemporary artists’ shorts rarely or never before seen in UK. The Saturday and Sunday screenings will each culminate with artists in conversation, reflecting on the changing role of the moving image in art and how the medium expresses new subjectivities. The series demonstrates the substantial legacy of South African artists on screen.

Curated by Zoe Whitley, Adjunct Research Curator, Tate, supported by Guaranty Trust Bank plc, and Abrie Fourie, Independent Curator

Events in this series

The Film Will Always Be You
Friday 10 July, 19.00–21.00

The Film Will Always Be You: Points and Counterpoints
Saturday 11 July, 16.00–18.00

The Film Will Always Be You: Performing Selves
Saturday 11 July, 19.00–21.00

The Film Will Always Be You: New Subjectivities
Sunday 12 July, 17.00–19.00

Tate Film is supported by LUMA Foundation

This project has been supported by the SAUK Seasons 2014 & 2015, a partnership between the Department of Arts and Culture, South Africa and the British Council.

http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/eventseries/film-will-always-be-you-south-african-artists-on-screen

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Alma Mater

OLD WHITE MAN

Artists: Norman O’Flynn, Chris van Eeden, Andrew Lamprecht, Brendon Bussy, Johan Thom, Justin Fiske and Mark Rautenbach

ALMA MATER

329 Albert Road, 7925 Woodstock, Western Cape, South Africa
Preview: 20 May at 18:00 to 27 May at 21:00


“His comments have a tendency to create social divides. He is a bitter old, white man who does not want to accept that South Africa is in a transitional phase. He must either accept that or hit the ceiling. We [the country] can’t be harnessing people like him anymore,” said Zuma.

This statement was reported in the News 24 article Max du Preez a ‘bitter, old, white man’ on April 24, 2015.

The past always sucks, ask anyone. Why in all this fury of social ‘want to be’ revolution is the youth not directly striking their anger at the current political environment instead of looking backwards? In this momentary haze of fist high, foot down, angst and struggling with the other and self, we decided to host OLD WHITE MAN – a rebellious celebration (of sorts) of the old white man, the man artist forging forward in contemporary mediums, both visual, literary and audible.

Artists are not the enemy – America is, obviously. As an overall generalization, artists in all forms of mediums are, your liberal supporters and pacifists. Most artists whom we know and have invited do not want to be reduced to an OLD WHITE MAN. So in here, which we use the age old trick of irony to salute not the old white man but to salute the human, under the skin, individual with a name given by their mother, as we would do with any other self-respecting artists.

The artists, Norman O’flynn, Chris van Eeden, Andrew Lamprecht, Brendon Bussy, Johan Thom, Justin Fiske and Mark Rautenbach were asked to play at ALMA MARTHA and do what they wanted, without responsibility (respectfully), without judgment. They are old enough for the average pubescent brought up by a Smartphone to wrinkle their nose at (which is, in fact, not very old) and they are old enough to be men who would sit with you to discuss views on the male, masculinity and its context, both personally and on a larger scale. Perhaps they would less likely speak to their white-ness, but maybe it would be best if you ask them yourself.

(OLD WHITE MAN, the exhibition, was planned before the article in News 24 came out. (“Forget the past and come naked without your skin to fight what really matters, not each other but every government.”))

FOOTNOTE: The organizers of OLD WHITE MAN are two women artists, one old (well in so far as the category of which we decided the ‘man’ artists are old,) and one young woman. One is a foreigner and one is local. Both are technically white although the one has sometimes wondered why her Middle Eastern side is considered white on the check off the box category. The other white is local but actually born in an Eastern European country, which also has been known to more centrally located Europeans as the land of the Gypsies and Vampires. One grew up here and the other has been flirting with the country since 2006 and now resides here. Both understand the importance of History and the pain and suffering we acknowledge it and respect it, (one of their logos is a Native American), but would just like to live in the present and be present in the current as well as the contemporary for that matter.

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ANALOGUE EYE is a mobile drive-in theatre and pop-up cinema experience. The project pays homage to the traditional drive-in experience and to early projectionists such as Sol Plaatjie, who traveling across South Africa, took the moving image to the people. In this vein and spirit Analogue Eye has taken the video works from the gallery context to meet a wider audience in unexpected public platforms and spaces. Video Art Africa is a curated screening of three programs of diverse video artworks made by 37 artists about, from or on the African continent.
Featuring 37 Artists from 18 countries.

Created & curated by Brent Meistre

More info here: https://www.facebook.com/ANALOGUEYE?fref=photo

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CATALOGUE LAUNCH
[WORKING TITLE] 2013

AT GOODMAN GALLERY JOHANNESBURG
SATURDAY 25 OCTOBER 2014 AT 11H00

PLEASE JOIN US FOR A DRINK
[Working Title] 2013 Catalogue Launch

The launch of the [Working Title] 2013 catalogue will happen at The Goodman Gallery Johannesburg on 25 November, timed to coincide with the closing day [Working Title] 2014 at Goodman Gallery Cape Town.

The [Working Title] series is focused on developing work that can go beyond the run of the exhibition, and it is important that the catalogue exist in a similar way. The texts aim to extend the questions and subversions the artists provoke as opposed to just explaining and describing the works on show.

Some texts take the form of conversations – Raimi Gbadamosi and Gerald Machona discuss the role of art in representing tragedy and violence while Haroon Gunn-Salie, Simon Castets and Hans-Ulrich Obrist discuss the role of intervention and activism in Gunn-Salie’s practice.
Other contributions like Jessica Webster’s short stories, the co–authored essay by The Brother Moves On and the Frown’s manifesto of worship – are texts which exist as self referential semi fiction.

Kalia Brooks, Adjunct Professor in Photography at the Tisch School of the Arts, explores themes of control and compassion in Tegan Bristow’s interactive video work Coming and going but never leaving. Bristow herself reviews the use of digital and online media in Cuss Group’s work Untitled (Johannesburg screen saver) arguing that medium is definitive in representing the state of South Africa’s socio-political climate. In his analysis of Vinatge Cru, anthropologist and director of the LGBT rights programme at human rights watch, Graeme Reid investigates the centrality of performance to queer visibility in South Africa. Adreinne Edwards, associate curator at Performa New York writes on Nelisiwe Xaba and Mocke van Vueren’s work Uncles and Angels, understanding the work as an experimental meditation on ritual, the feminine, technology. Working Title exists as a space where relationships between the Goodman Gallery and artists, creatives and writers can be incubated.

The catalogue launch will happen alongside an exhibition which showcases works, performances and collaborations which have happened post [Working Title] 2013. Haroon Gunn-Salie, Jessica Webster and Johan Thom – all of whom have solo exhibitions next year with the Goodman Gallery – will exhibit works which are in preparation for their respective exhibitions or which have happened in association with the Goodman Gallery.

Gerald Machona, who was awarded the [Working Title] award in 2013 will exhibit a new series of ‘dictators’ headgear’ made from his trademark medium of decommissioned currency. A film made by The Brother Moves On, which focuses on the collaborative performances done since 2013 will be screened at the gallery.

The [Working Title] exhibitions are part of an initiative by the Goodman Gallery aimed at supporting young artists, curators, independent projects and major installations and performances.

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