At the opening of the Sounding Out exhibition in Fordsburg on Wednesday night, Professor Achille Mbembe from the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research made some powerful observations. A few observations about the exhibition. But mostly about the state of our culture. It felt angry and a little sad. I recorded the speach. Here is most of what he had to say.
“It seems to me that the present cultural moment we are experiencing is what we can call official culture. By this I mean it’s the attempt by the ruling elite to tell us what culture is all about and they can tell us at what point it is we transgress that culture. The ruling class will also tell us what price it is we have to pay when we transgress that culture.
On the other hand we have what is clearly the intellectual decay of the ANC. I mention the ANC because our country and society depends a lot on what happens in the ANC. This is the case because we live in a one-party democracy and when that party is in a crisis, it has a tremendous effect on the rest of society. And right now that party is suffering some serious intellectual decay. So these things: the emergence of official culture and the crisis of imagination in the ruling party go hand in hand with a 3rd trend. Which is the capacity of art to release high levels of toxic energy. And it seems to me as we try to go forward we need to take seriously these three challenges because they introduce into our public life or public culture a number of things: Read More…
Neo Muyanga. You know him from the guitar duo, Blk Sonshine. Remember “when we make love”?
Now Muyanga has been playing with operetta and contemporary dance. The Flower of Shembe the result of two years of work is coming to the Dance Factory, Joburg this weekend. I’m not missing it. Think you shouldn’t either. Tickets are available at Computicket.
I came across this picture of Donatella Versace first thing yesterday morning after logging onto my computer. And it quickly became the talking point of the day. The Versace brand has returned to the catwalk after eight years of not showing collections at fashion weeks. It opened the Paris haute couture show last night with 26 beautiful gowns which were rightly applauded. But the clothes lost their impact and I got distracted by images of fashion designer Donatella (pictured above with her daughter). Read More…
This landed on my desk yesterday. It’s a piece – a text installation – by Talya Lubinsky which will be on exhibit at the Stevenson gallery in Cape Town from July 13. It got me thinking about sex. Alain de Botton has written one of the how-to School of Life books, “How to Think More about Sex”. It’s important to have sex, good sex. He says, “Good sex isn’t just fun, it keeps us sane and happy”.
But then he explains here why some of us when bored, will take a nap instead:
To begin with, and most innocently, the lack of sex within established relationships typically has to do with the difficulty of shifting registers between everyday work life and the erotic. The qualities demanded of us when we have sex stand in sharp opposition to those we employ in conducting the majority of our other, daily activities at the office. Relationships tend to involve, if not immediately then within a few years, the running of a household and often the raising of children. These tasks often feel akin to the administration of a small business and draw upon many of the same bureaucratic and procedural skills, including time management, self discipline, exercising authority and imposing an agenda of renunciation upon recalcitrant others. Read More…
Cape Town-based photographer Melanie Cleary’s exhibition New Year’s Day has been selected for the Dali International Photography Exhibition in China in August. It has also been selected for the Zurich Art Fair in October and a group exhibition in Sydney, Australia in November.
She shot the photographs on Durban North Beach over a period of 2 days, 31 December 2011 and 1 January 2012.
For me, in the freezing cold Joburg, these pictures make me want the cold to go away. I want to be on a beach. Maybe not this one which looks like it could be a Rio beach in Brazil – hot, sticky and fun but a little too crowded.
You can see Cleary’s exhibition at The Photographers Gallery za in Cape Town till next Saturday (July 07). Contact 021 422 2762
I am not just a little obsessed with this phrase.
While in the UK two weeks ago, I saw it everywhere. In shop windows, on merchandise, and printed and framed on display in private homes. It’s such a lovely encouragement. Makes you feel like you do once you’ve had a good cup of tea. Mind you, not a cup made from our new police commissioner Mangwashi Phiyega’s type of tea. By the way did you see this? The best quote of the weekend was from Phiyega in the City Press on Sunday:
“A woman is like a teabag. You can never know the strength of that teabag until you put it in boiling water and you can see whether you are dealing with strong tea.”
I prefer a weak Earl Grey tea.
In a review by Alex Dodd in Art South Africa Autumn 2011 of Brett Murray’s Hail to the Thief at Goodman Gallery Cape Town, he is quoted saying in response to the idea that he runs the risk of tainting people outside the ‘thievery Corporation’: “Don’t shoot the messenger. The message that I am trying to convey is that the powers that be are pissing on the graves Of everyone who struggled, everyone who died for the struggle. They are tainting their reputations, their senses of who they were. What they did. How they did… I am saying this is the knock on effect of corruption – every cent you steal, you’re pissing on the graves of The heroes.”
I sent Zanele Muholi an SMS today, perhaps she didn’t get it. Perhaps she found it insensitive. I would have. I wouldn’t have responded either. Zanele is a photographer who has been photographing gays and lesbians and who in her own words (New Yorker) has embarked “on a journey of visual activism to insure that there is black queer visibility.”
I asked her today (22 May) via sms if she’d like to comment on the national reaction to Brett Murray’s painting of Zuma, The Spear. Perhaps in relation to her theft, I said.
Actually, what a cheek, this woman is a victim of what could be a targeted attack last month, in which her hard drives were stolen. Hard drives containing all her work over the last 5 years, reports the New Yorker. Work that has sensitively portrayed people who are under constant threat of attack or corrective rape as it is known, and marginalization.
Instead of writing a story about Zanele’s own experience, I’ve asked her to comment on someone else’s work.
I wouldn’t have responded to an sms request like mine either.
Brett Murray who isn’t speaking to the press on record, earlier today sent me these images of a sculpture he made in 1990/1991. He wants his explanation of ‘The Voortrekker’ – an attack on Afrikaner patriarchy – to be made public. This work speaks, I believe, for itself with regards to Brett’s intentions and to the fact that we have come full circle politically. Here is his explanation:
“The title is Voortrekker. It is an obvious play on words. A direct translation is Front Puller. The implied vernacular translation to English would be Wanker. The intended visual metaphor presented is being one of self satisfaction and self indulgence, with the protection of a gun. In this case the attack was on the Afrikaaner patriarchy of the time. The point being, I use the image of an ape indiscriminately and apply it when and where I see fit and this is not determined by race. I have used animals as signifiers of metaphorical meaning for quite some time. The earliest, in this volumetric form , are the works attacking the patriarchy of the predominantly Afrikaaner state of the Apartheid regime which formed part of my Masters dissertation.
Pre- 1994 I have used pigs, snakes, monkeys, donkeys, elephants, rats, teddy bears,dogs, sheep, rhino, various buck, cheatas and zebras.etc
Post 1994 I have used monkeys, pigs, dogs, lions and eagles etc
The size is approx 900mm tall and approx 700 deep and 700 mm wide.”
I’ve been reading Mrs Moneypenny’s book Careers Advice for Ambitious Women. I’m reading it because I’m a fan of her column in the Financial Times, not because I’m particularly ambitious (why not?). It’s good food for thought on women, work, the balancing act and how to self-promote. I am not big on self-help books but this is written by Mrs Moneypenny aka Dr Heather McGregor. She’s an impressive woman: runs a headhunting company in London, pretty ruthless about what she wants and has a spunky attitude to getting ahead. One of the things she does well is to keep on reminding the reader throughout the book what/how men are doing.
There is a chapter dedicated to ‘doing your own PR”. Self-promotiong is something we shy away from, don’t we? It’s immodest, arrogant, showing off… But we don’t criticise a man for doing his PR, do we? He probably understands that (research quoted in the book) “moving into leadership roles… takes more than doing things right.” If you’re good at your job, “you need to make sure people know that you are.”
Every woman should spend 5 percent of her time doing her own PR, advises Mrs Moneypenny.
A little skeptical, and perhaps a little lazy, all I’ve done about my own PR since reading her advice is to have a picture removed off a website of me drinking a large cocktail. It was quite a lovely picture – but I am not sure if it was meant to be of me or the big bottle of vodka in the same frame.
Then tonight I read this, Why Don’t Women Act More Like Men at Work? on The Atlantic and the point is again made. Take it:
Two of the biggest barriers for women in advancing their careers are failure to make their achievements known and to find people who could help their careers, according to a survey conducted last year by Catalyst, a nonprofit group that presses for workplace opportunities for women on three continents. “When women were most proactive in making their achievements visible,” the report states, “they advanced further, were more satisfied with their careers, and had greater compensation growth than women who were less focused on calling attention to their successes.”
Now for a bit of self-promoting: I’m going to tweet this blog post now.
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