A new exhibition set to open on Heritage Day at Iziko-SA National Gallery
pays tribute to the different levels of creative achievement in SA.
"Co-existence: contemporary cultural production in SA" honours not only our
internationally-acclaimed artists such as William Kentridge, but also those
whose remarkable talents have come to light through needlework collectives
and other self-help initiatives.
Consistent with the theme of heritage, each artwork is a unique response to
the country's complex environment, be it an eloquent statement by a
celebrated artist or an item of skilled handicraft by anonymous rural
craftsmen. The catalogue states that "no artist can avoid reflecting,
directly or indirectly, the historical upheavals that have engendered him;
no-one whatever the role assigned to him by birth, can dissociate himself
from the drama this land has lived through."
Marilyn Martin, Director of Iziko Art Collections who curated the exhibition
with Zola Mtshiza, confirms that Iziko acknowledges and celebrates the
multiplicity and cultural manifestations in SA. "With one foot planted
firmly in the 3rd world and the other striding forth into the 1st, the art
of contemporary SA straddles traditional African and Contemporary Western
notions of art. The nuances and complexities of the emerging cultural
identity are the subject of Co-existence."
Co-existence comfortably places artists of note in the same spotlight as
those whose creations are "not yet defined but provide an income for
indigent producers. The contemporary world is not limited to makers trained
at universities and versed in international concerns. It includes those with
little or no formal education whose involvement in the realm of art is
through projects initiated as a vehicle for providing an income".
Pamela Allara, associate professor of art history at Brandeis University in
Boston, USA collaborated in curating the exhibition which ran at The Rose
Museum, Brandeis University, earlier this year. She refers to the vision of
controversial pop artist, Andy Warhol, of a museum modelled on a department
store where objects from widely differing categories could jostle for
position. Co-existence conforms to this vision, offering viewers something
to enjoy, ponder over and evaluate while ultimately allowing insight into
the breadth and complexity of South African art.
Funds for this project were raised in the US and the exhibition arises out
of a partnership between Iziko and The Rose Art Museum, and the SA and US
Man with TV 1995