Tag Archives: South Africa

Derek Attridge on William Kentridge at the Bluecoat

Kentridge in Context: an evening with Derek Attridge.

Professor Attridge discusses Kentridge’s work in relation to

contemporary South African literature


Thursday 24 January 6pm


(Image: William Kentridge, Eight Figures, 2010. Courtesy Artists Proof Studio, (c) the artist 2012.)

A Universal Archive – William Kentridge as Printmaker

Exhibition continues until Sunday 3 February, 2013.  Open 10am-6pm daily. Free.

One of South Africa’s greatest contemporary artists, William Kentridge is acclaimed worldwide for his films, drawings, theatre and opera productions.  He is also an innovative and prolific printmaker who studied etching at the Johannesburg Art Foundation.

Over the past 25 years Kentridge has produced more than 300 etchings, engravings, aquatints, silkscreens, linocuts and lithographs, experimenting with formats and combining techniques.  Often the social and political themes explored in his prints end up in a piece of theatre or animated film.  This exhibition includes over 100 prints in all media from 1988 to the present, with a focus on experimental and serial works, ranging in scale from intimate etchings to linocuts measuring 2.5 metres high.

Saturday 19 January 2pm

Exhibition tour

Alan Jones, an artist based at the Bluecoat, and our Aritistic Director, Bryan Biggs,discuss Kentridge’s work in the gallery.  Free.

Thursday 24 January 6pm

Kentridge in Context: an evening with Derek Attridge

Derek Attridge discusses Kentridge’s work in relation to contemporary South African literature.  Free, ticket required.

Sunday 27 January 2pm

Gallery Talk with Kate McCrickard

Leading Kentridge expert Kate McCrickard offers insights into his work. Free.

Saturday 2 February 2-5pm

Open printmaking studios

William Kentridge uses a wide range of printmaking techniques.  Visit our two print studios for demonstrations of these processes.  Free.


Appropriated Landscapes: The Walther Collection

Embedded in the picturesque, unassuming Bavarian town of Ulm, Germany, is a fascinating plot of land. It contains three unusual looking buildings: three houses

Opening of Appropriated Landscapes at the Walther Collection, June 2011 photo: The Walther Collection (flickr)

– one is traditional, covered in ivy, another black, mostly windowless, with a trendy interior and then a white cube, two stories high with a vast underground level. This is the home of the Walther Collection, and currently the exhibition, ‘Appropriated Landscapes’. Each year a new curator creates a show from the collection, and this one is part of a three-year project focusing on the holdings of African photography.

The show, curated by Corrine Diserens, explores the effects of colonization, war and ideology on physical and psychological landscapes of South Africa. Around 200 images are displayed by 14 artists including recent work from Jane Alexander and Guy Tillim as well as newly commissioned pieces from Ângela Ferreira, Christine Meisner, and Peter Friedl.

Each house has a different atmosphere. With its low ceilings and intimate rooms the Green House is perfectly suited to exhibit the small-scale work of two of South Africa’s most prominent photographers; David Goldblatt and Santu Mofokeng. At a time when ‘struggle’ documentary photography was playing a crucial role in exposing the horrors of apartheid in a most palpable manner, Goldblatt chose instead to look at the effects of this system in a different way. From the early 1960s he photographed the deep rooted effects of apartheid by veering towards the eventless, the ‘unnatural’ nature of the man-altered South African landscape. Santu Mofokeng’s work too engages with the concept of landscape as the mute witness to history. His photographs depict the previously undocumented, everyday life of the ‘forgotten society’ of black South Africans in the townships. Though trauma is manifested in this landscape, the key theme that emerges through Mofokeng’s images is survival.

In the Black House, Jo Ractliffe’s new body of work on Angola’s civil war is premiered. Ractliffe visited Angola at the end of the war and for two years traveled with South African and Angolan ex-soldiers through what Portuguese colonials referred to as “As Terras do Fim do Mundo” – the lands of the end of the world. The haunting images produced show a scarred landscape. Unease is purposefully implied through unusually inhabited images of unintelligible signage, mass graves, and vast spaces with solitary, strange objects.

In the main exhibition space – the architecturally striking White Box – are photographs and video installations. Most striking is the presentation of the work of Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse. The subject of their collaboration is Ponte City: a 54-storey cylindrical building situated in the centre of Johannesburg. This is the tallest residential tower block in Africa and a politically important building; abandoned by white residents, it is now a precarious home to thousands of squatters and so represents a place of constant struggle. The artists’ have displayed lightbox panels divided into three themes: doors, windows and TVs. Presented on large screens suspended from the ceiling, the 12-channel digital slide projection provides a multitude of perspectives on the contemporary skyline of the city of Johannesburg from the point of view of the residents, giving a new resonance to the work.

Guy Tillim disarms colonial inheritance, not merely recording collapsed histories but “a walk through an avenue of dreams”. His highly composed photographs show urban decay and disorder, leading one to question the aestheticisation of poverty by an outsider. The video work of Penny Siopis and Peter Freidl’s films work to analyse narrative tools in colonialized surroundings and the perilous public sphere. In contrast to much of the exhibition, Zanele Muholi and Sabelo Mlangeni’s photographs are ‘peopling’ the landscape with marginal groups. Muholi, working with victims of hate crime, undermines the ethnographic archive by exploring sexual indeterminacy and the scrambling of codes. In the Country Girls series Mlangeni visits cross-dressing communities in rural South Africa exploring masculine intimacy to a poignant effect.

The scars of memory and history on the land expand the definition of landscape. The images displayed together here as Appropriated Landscapes depict the trajectory – from production through reception to the legacy – of these scars which have shaped the land. The exhibition asks important questions about the relationship between history and memory, the role of the photographer, and the problems of moving on from a trauma embedded in the very landscape.

To view images of works in the Appropriated Landscapes exhibition click here and follow the links for specific artists within each building.

Contributed by: Hannah-Grace Fitzpatrick

Living Apart: photographs of apartheid by Ian Berry

(c) Ian Berry/ Magnum Photos (detail via liverpoolmuseums.org)

A powerful touring exhibition from Magnum Photos of some of the most dramatic and iconic moments over 40 years of South Africa’s history, captured by photojournalist Ian Berry. This exhibition is part of Liverpool’s first ever international photography festival, Look11.

At the International Slavery Museum, Liverpool: 8 April 2011 to 6 November 2011.

For more information click here

The Latest from African Books Collective

African Books Collective is now operating fully independently in North America. Put more money into the pockets of African publishers by ordering online at http://www.africanbookscollective.com Checkout in North America is by PayPal and throughout the rest of the world by Google Checkout. More information on how to order including shipping costs and delivery times can be found here: http://www.africanbookscollective.com/how-to-order

Social networkers, ABC is on Facebook! Help us spread the word and keep up-to-date with all the news, become a fan here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/African-Books-Collective/129294683801537

ABC is pleased to welcome a new publisher this month. Always Be Tolerant Organization (ABETO), Uganda was established and registered as a Non-Governmental Organisation in June 1996. The inspiration was in pursuit of the Commonwealth conference resolution to embrace tolerance: http://www.africanbookscollective.com/publishers/abeto

Lauri Kubuitsile’s short story ‘In the spirit of McPhineas Lata’ from The Bed Book of Short Stories published by  Modjaji Books has been shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing. The collection is available from ABC and as an ebook from Into-eBooks. Congratulations to Lauri Kubuitsile and Modjaji Books


Some other highlights this month are:

Identity Meets Nationality: Voices from the Humanities. Edited by Nana Aba Appiah Amfo, Jemima A. Anderson and Helen Lauer http://www.africanbookscollective.com/books/identity-meets-nationality

Managing a Changing Climate in Africa: Local Level Vulnerabilities and Adaptation Experiences, Pius Zebhe Yanda and Chipo Plaxedes Mubaya http://www.africanbookscollective.com/books/managing-a-changing-climate-in-africa

Reclaiming the L-Word: Sappho’s Daughters out in Africa. Edited by Alleyn Diesel  http://www.africanbookscollective.com/books/reclaiming-the-l-word

This September Sun, by Bryony Rheam http://www.africanbookscollective.com/books/this-september-sun

Best wishes from African Books Collective

Beauty, Power, and Liminality: A conversation on Black Beauty movements from the Lecture Series Beauty and the Black Body

To be misrepresented, one’s image is falsified, distorted, warped, loaded, and perverted.  How does that image get corrected, when is one represented? On Saturday February 19, Rutgers University Newark addressed just these questions at The 31st Anniversary of The Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series Beauty and the Black Body: history, aesthetics and politics. Through five lecturers, a range of historical and contemporary images of African Americans where analyzed showcasing how African Americans re-represented themselves through beauty-focused themes. The opening of Posing Beauty at Newark Museum followed the symposium, leading to a full day of critical appreciation of the portrait in photography by Black Americans.

The curator of the exhibition, Deborah Willis started the symposium by posing the question that has been addressed in her research, “Are you essentializing blackness?” To this, Willis explains that her research as exemplified in the exhibition, and book of the same name, Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present (New York 2009) aims to examine those historical/iconic images that depicted the black body. For Willis and the other scholars, it is important to read the stories behind those images. And that is precisely what Willis does.

To view a full version of this post including discussion of images of the ‘Hottentot Venus’ and  Madame C J Walker, and issues raised by speakers: Richard Powell, Maxine Craig, and Tiffany Gill click here.

Contributed by: Zemen Kidane

A Living Man from Africa: Jan Tzatzoe, Xhosa Chief and Missionary, and the Making of Nineteenth-Century South Africa

Born into a Xhosa royal family around 1792 in South Africa, Jan Tzatzoe was destined to live in an era of profound change—one that witnessed the arrival and entrenchment of European colonialism. As a missionary, chief, and cultural intermediary on the eastern Cape frontier and in Cape Town and a traveler in Great Britain, Tzatzoe helped foster the merging of African and European worlds into a new South African reality. Yet, by the 1860s, despite his determined resistance, he was an oppressed subject of harsh British colonial rule. In this innovative, richly researched, and splendidly written biography, Roger S. Levine reclaims Tzatzoe’s lost story and analyzes his contributions to, and experiences with, the turbulent colonial world to argue for the crucial role of Africans as agents of cultural and intellectual change.

Yale University Press has recently published A Living Man From Africa: Jan Tzatzoe, Xhosa Chief and Missionary, and the Making of Nineteenth Century South Africa ($30 hardcover) by Roger S. Levine, Associate Professor of History at Sewanee: The University of the South.

This book is the first to be published in a new series, New Directions in Narrative History. It brings the colonial encounter to life while providing a fascinating account of the South Africa of the nineteenth century and one of her most interesting sons: Jan Tzatzoe – world traveler, chief, missionary, and cultural intermediary.  For more information visit the publisher’s website at: