Indepth Arts News: |
"Liberated Voices: Contemporary Art from South Africa"
2000-05-12 until 2000-08-13
Austin Museum of Art
USA United States of America
During the past decade, South Africa has experienced an extraordinary series of political and
cultural transformations that resulted in the downfall of apartheid in 1994 and the forging of a
democratic society in its place. Liberated Voices: Contemporary Art from South Africa is the
first major exhibition to explore the work of a younger generation of South African artists that has
emerged since this transition, whose members strive to address issues unique to the present
moment in their country's history-including self-identity, cultural diversity, and social responsibility.
This exhibition features over 50 works in varied media-sculpture, paintings, installations, and
photographs-alongside extensive interviews that highlight the background of each artist and give
insight into the diversity of artistic responses engendered by the changes now occurring in South
In the past, many South African artists, whatever their background, created art that
predominantly sought to bring down apartheid. Since that time, the political aspect of their work
has become less explicit, while identity has developed as a focal point of artistic exploration in a
society that includes people of African, Asian, and European origin. The artists in Liberated
Voices reveal two broad tendencies in their effort to
come to terms with the legacy of apartheid: Some create works that are decidedly
autobiographical in nature, with many reflecting upon the subtly complex relationships between
blacks and whites. Others recycle the discarded materials of daily life from the township past to
fashion reinvigorated visions of the future. Mbongeni Richman Buthelezi, one of the most
important artists of this new generation, melts plastic bags of different colors to use as paints,
while Samson Mnisi and Thabiso Phokompe combine traditional African materials and Western art
media to comment on the shifting relationships of power within South African society. Liberated
Voices places the contemporary art of South Africa within a wider global context, showing how
South African artists have absorbed and re-interpreted concepts drawn from Western art. It also
demonstrates the impact that these artists, experiencing an unprecedented freedom of
expression, have made on the cultivation of dialogue and discussion within a culture in
flux-making art an essential component in a society's reinvention of itself.
Liberated Voices: Contemporary Art from South Africa is the first exhibition of art from this
nation to be presented in Texas. The exhibition was organized by the Museum for African Art,
curated by Frank Herreman and co-curated by Mark D'Amato. It is made possible by generous
support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, and with public funds from
the New York State Council on the Arts. Major funding has been provided by grants from the
Department of Trade and Industry, South Africa; the LEF Foundation; Jason H. Wright, and
Jerome and Ellen Stern. A fully illustrated catalogue with essays by leading South African critics
and art historians will be available. The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of educational
programs for adults and young people, including an enhanced website at www.amoa.org and an
on-site Electronic Learning Lab available at the Museum with which visitors can interact.
An exhibition of works produced through ArtReach at The Park at the Children's Hospital of
Austin will be on display in the Learning Lab through the duration of the Liberated Voices
In Austin, the exhibition is presented by Dell Computer Corporation.
The Austin Museum of Art is funded in part by the City of Austin. American Airlines is the
official airline of the Austin Museum of Art. Additional support has been provided by the
Austin Museum of Art Guild and Museum Members. Promotional sponsors for the Austin
Museum of Art are 107.1 KGSR, the Austin American-Statesman, The Austin Chronicle,
CitySearch, FOX 7, and Pentagram Design.