Posts Tagged ‘Visual Art’


Speech act #2. Performance last August at the Association of Arts for Drawing Conclusions II curated by Diane Victor. For the work I read excerpts from texts out of my personal diaries for the period of 2009-13 whilst standing on an old portrait created with flour on the floor. The piece is a meditation on the materiality of memory and its artifacts. (Photograph by Carla Crafford).


Houseboat #1. 2019. Wood, glass, Material One, glass and mixed media Sizes: 230cm x 300 cm x 205cm


‘Missing: Selfportrait as an ass asleep in my son’s bed’ 2019. Photographic inkjet print on Hannemeule 2/3 (Edition of 3 and one artist proof) 50 cm x 65 cm Photo Credit: Garreth Fradgley

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This year lecturers and artists from the Department of Visual Art at the University of Pretoria made a huge splash at Aardklop. Dr Johan Thom, Senior lecturer in Fine Art was for the second year running the head visual arts curator for Aardklop. Other lecturers and past alumni from Fine Arts whose works were showcased as part of the visual arts program include Diane Victor, Avi Sooful, Shenaz Mahomed and alumni such as Angus Taylor and Cazlynne Peffer.

Figure 1: Installation view: ’14 Stations of the Cross’ by Diane Victor. Photo Credit: J. Thom

Curator Dr Johan Thom conceived the visual arts program under the collective title of ‘Spoke Diewe en Digters’. The program was conceptualised in relation to the complex history of Afrikaans as a poetic language, one indelibly shaped by a persistent undercurrent of creative, often anti-establishment practices and thoughts. The life and work of figures such as Eugene Marais, the ‘sestigers’ (including Breyten Breytenbach, Etienne Le Roux, Adam Small and Ingrid Jonker) and even more recently those of Koos Kombuis and Johannes Kerkorrel served as inspiration for a large-scale exhibition premised upon the exploration of creative process and the contested place of visual art in our contemporary society.

In total seven exhibitions were mounted by Thom across the venues located on the campus of the North-West University during the festival. These include the solo exhibition ‘Skadu en Lig’ by festival artist Diane Victor, the group exhibition ‘A Flood in my hands’ (curated by Aysha Waja), ‘Saamklop’ (a program featuring the work of artist collectives including The Dead Bunny Society, Found Collective and The Centre For The Less Good idea), ‘Degenerative evolution of the living’ by Donald Wassiwa from Uganda (kindly made possible by ABSA), en ‘Die groen grass groei daar om’ a solo exhibition by Liza Grobler. Thom also curated a large-scale group exhibition featuring the work of local and international artists including global superstars such as Marina Abramović, Olu Oguibe, Roger Ballen, Jodi Bieber and many others. Finally a special music programme with Pretoria-based musicians including Bacchus Nel, Die See and Blinkruiter concluded the program with a show filled with poetry and musical ghost stories.  The last also included a series of oil portraits of Afrikaans musicians painted by the artist  Ronel Kellerman.

The work of this year’s festival artist Diane Victor set the tone for much of the visual arts on display. Victor is perhaps best known for her unflinching depiction of violence and discrimination against women in South African society. Apart from exhibiting a series of new drawings and prints Victor created a site specific installation of fourteen light projections against the walls of a concrete walkway of the auditorium of the Hennie Bingle Student Centre. This ethereal work titled ’14 Stations of the Cross’ was conceived as a pilgrimage of sorts, with each of the fourteen portraits depicting a victim of femicide. In this way viewers could stop at each portrait and meditate before reaching the end of their journey at the top of the staircase.The work was made all the more ghostly as each of the portraits was literally made from smoke on glass through which a bright light then projected the image against the wall. Victor was deservedly awarded best visual arts exhibition at Aardklop 2018 for her efforts.

The festival also provided a rare opportunity to see the work of the veritable grandmother of performance art, Serbian artist Marina Abramović in person at the NWU Art Gallery. For ‘Confession’ (2010), a video loop of sixty minutes, Abramović sits in front of a donkey telling it her deepest, darkest secrets. Amazingly the donkey almost never moves right until the end.

Figure 2: Confession Performance for Video by Marina Abramović, 60 minutes, 2010. © Marina Abramović. Courtesy of the Marina Abramović Archives

Other highlights at the festival this year included ‘Pink and White Flowers’, an installation artwork by Olu Oguibe, made possible by the support of The University of Pretoria and The Nirox Foundation. Oguibe was a recent visitor to the Visual Arts Department of the University of Pretoria where he spoke about his life and work as an internationally renowned artist, scholar and activist. For ‘Pink and White Flowers’ Oguibe made a large-scale installation in the botanical gardens consisting of four thousand petunias stacked together. The work served as a portrait of Nokuphila Kumalo, a young girl who was also a South African victim of femicide. Sadly her mother had no picture of her but could remember that she liked pink and white flowers. Each of the petunias could be taken home by a visitor to the installation thus extending the work beyond the exhibition.

Figure 3: Installation view of ‘Pink and White Flowers’ (2018) at the botanical gardens of the North- West University, South Africa, by Olu Oguibe. Photo credit: J. Thom

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Doing Research: An Exercise in Thinking about the Meaning of Artistic Research in the Academy Context

EARN Members will collaborate with dOCUMENTA(13) becoming an activating agent in the main exhibition programme and collaborating on a series of workshops and a symposium



The EARN Academies network is participating in dOCUMENTA(13). There are four strands to this collaboration: (i) activated projects; (ii) “Doing Research” a chapter of the conference “On Artistic Research” co-organised with dOCUMENTA(13) (September 8 and 9); (iii) a book on different definitions, approaches, critical responses and positions on the question of artistic research to be released in advance of the conference; and (iv) a programme of workshops by doctoral researchers (September 6 and 7).

A. Activated Projects

This participation is framed in a number of different ways and raises complex issues about the mobilisation of students and researchers within a large scale machine for visibility such as documenta. The presence of student artists and researchers as activating agents within artworks authored by other artists and articulated within the elaborate curatorial matrices of dOCUMENTA(13) creates many challenges and debates: These range from the prerogatives of academies vis-a-vis other institutions (exhibitions, biennials, showcase platforms, curatorial discourse) to the operational economies of production and the outsourcing of labour inputs. There is clearly a wide diversity of models of “activated” project – entailing different orders of student / researcher participation, input and agency. Exampels include: (i) Theaster Gates restoring and reactivating the historic Huguenot House in Kassel with student input; (ii) Paul Ryan’s Threeing comprised of situations in which three or more people create sustainable, collaborative relationships; and (iii) Robin Kahn and the Women of Western Sahara’s “jaima” (tent) project.

B. “Doing Research”

Doing Research aims to understand the various ways in which research is understood and practiced by artists – in this case artists involved the d(13) activated projects, as well as artists involved in European doctoral programs. Structuring this enquiry are a series of six questions:

B.1 Questions: Understandings of artistic research

(i) What is your definition of doing (artistic) research? Does artistic research need an institutional framework or could it be legitimized differently? Does the institutionalization of research imply an instrumental control and a reduced conception of art? Or is does it also create room for matters such as unexpected and independent artistic forms, and openness to conflict and difference?

(ii) Do current research-connotations and protocols limit the domain of artistic imagination? Or could research-based art lead to novel forms of
(critical) consciousness? What could be the implications of the research discourse for aesthetic qualities such as the non-discursive, the not-knowing, and the intuitive, and what does this mean for your practice?
Artist and researcher

(iii) Do you see your own work as research-based? How does research affect your practise and your position as an artist? Or do you consider the topic of research obsolete in the realm of art? What, then, is a current topic or emergent theme in visual art that might be an alternative to the focus on research?

(iv) What does thinking in terms of research mean for your self-understanding as an artist? Can you, as an “artist”, identify with the role and identity of a “researcher”? Or do you expect that the practice of artistic research will contribute to re-thinking and re-assessing the established concept of researcher?

B.2 Related concepts and terminologies

(v) Do you consider your practice with reference to ideas of political economy? How could an artistic (research) practice relate to current conditions of “capital” and to what are seen as the ubiquitous forms of “cognitive capitalism”? Do you see possibilities for the production of alternative social and economic strategies in your work? How could artists currently demand attention for emancipatory forms of knowledge and experience that enable the world to be thought differently?

(vi) To what extent do you think and work in terms of “knowledge production”? Is the current “biopolitical” expansion of the notion of production a theme in your work? Are these terms familiar and/or of relevance for you in thinking about your practice?

C. The Book

The book “Doing Research” (published by the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts) which features contributions from dOCUMENTA(13) artists and EARN researchers will be avialable from mid-August 2012.

D. EARN@dOCUMENTA(13) Doctoral Workshops

The format of the workshops is relatively open – Each session is with one or more artist/researchers from an EARN academy presenting on some aspect of their current research. For some researchers the workshop may be based on interpreting / responding / re-setting the agenda generated by the questions and responses from “Doing Research” (see above). But many workshops simply emerge from the priorities of the work and concerns of the students presenting. Presenters include:

1. Laura Kuch (SLADE UCL)
2. Kai Syng Tan (SLADE UCL)
3. Beatrice Jarvis (GRADCAM ULSTER)
7. Fiona Curran (SLADE UCL)
8. Martino Genchi (IUAV Bevilacqua Ateliers)
9. Giovanni Giaretta (IUAV Bevilacqua Ateliers)
10. Annette Krauss (MAHKU)
13. Kay Tabernacle (SLADE UCL)
14. Tim Long (SLADE UCL)
15. Michael Delacruz (SLADE UCL)
16. Eleanor Morgan (SLADE UCL)
17. Johan Thom (SLADE UCL)
19. Georgina Jackson (GRADCAM DIT)
20. Rana Ozturk (GRADCAM NCAD)
21. Aislinn White (GRADCAM ULSTER)
22. Eirini Boukla (LEEDS)
23. Claire Hope (LEEDS)
24. Elke Marhöfer (VALAND ACADEMY GU)
25. Errol Francis (SLADE UCL)
26. Ming-Han Hsu (Taipei National University of Arts)

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