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Indepth Arts News:

"Co-existence: Contemporary Cultural Production in South Africa"
2003-09-24 until 2004-02-16
South African National Gallery
Cape Town, , ZA

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 curators.

Jane Alexander
Integration Programme
Man with TV 1995

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