January 26, 2015

mary corrigall’s best of 2014

Filed under: art,mary corrigall — ABRAXAS @ 10:23 pm

first published here: http://corrigall.blogspot.com/2015/01/best-of-2014.html

January 22, 2015

welcome back to school card for Mrs Theron (grade 2 teacher)

Filed under: art,caelan — ABRAXAS @ 9:28 am

koki on shiny coated paper
21 january 2014

January 10, 2015

carina venter answers six questions about art in south africa after marikana

Filed under: art,Carina Venter,politics,six questions — ABRAXAS @ 9:36 am


1. Do you think art can be didactic in a good way?

The answer is yes, not because the answer is yes, but because the answer has to be yes. Partly delusional, partly idealised, partly corrupted, and partly sheer faith in a belief that I might be wrong about the afore-mentioned conditions in a sovereign sense. At least for the present, I have no other way of thinking about the possibility of aesthetics as a didactic force.

2. What is this “need to document”? Of what use is it?

This need to document, indeed the incessant need to catalogue, review, reconstruct, catalogue our reconstructions, review our catalogued reconstructions, reconstruct our review of the catalogued reconstruction: this need to archive is both cumulative and productive, but not linear in an ontological sense. Which leads me to the conclusion that the need to archive is a sign that the present of linear time (understood as always following what came before and opening onto what comes after) is mutilated, so much so that we must go somewhere other to warm our shivering lives. We return to the past, to the archive, at times to seek consolation, to enunciate our present as a reconstruction of the documented past or to respond to something other than the linear present. Psychoanalysis is, I think, one way to understand the immense psychic need to archive: it is only when we have understood our most intimate archives, or rather, when we have reassembled those archives into something with which we can live — albeit momentarily — that depression (the experience of the present, not as fleeting and finite but as what is irrevocable and infinite) yields to the warmth of a moment in which we feel able to be present. This also means that the archive and its modern derivatives are abstractions that mostly exclude those monitory subjects without money. In other words, it is a space for those of us who have been fed, clad, rested, cared for, and then find that there is still time left.


3. Can art be a means of historical elucidation, a means of constructing truth?

The day that a consensus is reached on this question will be the day that art becomes nothing other than what we think it is. Art can be anything it wishes to be. And perhaps herein resides its only hope. Art is ephemeral in the sense that its total undoing is always still possible. It is the only realm in which it is possible to dream new beginnings, even if those dreams are themselves never untainted.

4. Is South Africa a productive field for art today? In what way? How would you describe the art scene here?

I am not qualified to answer this question. I am too young, I haven’t lived very much, I have seen too little of art, and I have lived apart from art for the first 18 years of my life. In my own writing, South Africa is a principle, the intensity of which—often violently—refuses distance. For me, writing has become a threshold, a bulwark against my own falling silent. I write about what resists writing, in order not to fall silent. There is another type of art-making in which I choose to partake, whilst convincing myself that participation is not a matter of choice but of coercion. This type of art-making is akin to a game of Monopoly: through hard work, good luck and a bit of bluffing, I buy houses, streets and sometimes entire cities, individuals, traditions, nations, histories, with the sole aim of playing the game, inasmuch as it is possible, on my own terms.0

5. What is the role of music in film?

I honestly don’t know, but I would like you to put the same question to me ten years hence.

Night is Coming – a threnody for the victims of Marikana from Stephanus Muller on Vimeo.

6. What can art tell us about Marikana? What can art do with Marikana? With “democracy” after Marikana?

This question, too, is beyond what I feel I am able to answer. Or rather, I think that you have yourself proffered one answer which is what occupies my mind and body at the time of responding to your questions. Allow me, then, to quote (almost verbatim) something you wrote:

The title of this film is inspired by the geography of the physical landscape in which a massacre that forms its backbone, is set. It is a new South African fable featuring two “characters”, a Massacre and a Blind Musicologist, played by Gertrude Magrietjie in her haunting debut role. And it recounts their adventures, or rather misadventures in the arid parts of Marikana. Having teamed up, our protagonists, a Massacre and a Blind Musicologist Bible Thumper, set out on a journey to secure spiritual food in order to sustain themselves during a period of spiritual drought. They arrive at red and green pastures, and the Massacre, knowing that these belong to a moody Lonmin, encourages his Blind colleague to gaze. Retribution is inevitable and it takes the form of a Massacre that leaves 34 dead, many of them shot in the back by Police Tactical Response Team members. The Blind Musicologist, unable to swim, drowns.
Night Is Coming: A Threnody for the Victims of Marikana is a fugue in four voices. Two of the voices relate to foreground material (comprising fingers, hands and faces in extreme closeups) and background material (consisting of landscape spaces and plans sequence which both frame space – plastically and architectonically – as well as to operate within the landscape’s frame.
The other two “voices” of the fugue are sound and speech respectively. Particularly Billie Whitelaw’s performance of Samuel Beckett’s text Rockaby lends itself to a fugal setting. Sound design is a crucial part of the success of the fugal approach, and this is already built in to the film from the opening salvo that heralds the Tactical Response Team’s not very tactical response to the striking miners being herded by large armoured vehicles to their own massacre.
The sound of this salvo of bullets is used like a goema drum as a warning, a memory from the Chthonic subconscious built into the DNA, the cellular structure, of generations of people derived from slavery but denied their memory of self by hundreds of years of forced forgetting under colonialism and apartheid.

January 7, 2015

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January 6, 2015


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January 1, 2015

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December 30, 2014


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December 28, 2014

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December 26, 2014

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December 21, 2014

stacy hardy answers six questions about art in south africa after marikana

Filed under: art,literature,politics,six questions,stacy hardy — ABRAXAS @ 3:59 pm


1. Do you think art can be didactic in a good way?

I guess the kind of art I like, the books I like to read, the music I like to listen, feels like it has something at stake to it, that there’s some necessity to its having been written rather than it being a replication of patterns or traditions that have come before or brain fodder.

I think there’s a growing urgency for art and writing that shakes us out of our complacency, reminding us that we are alive, really alive and that things don’t have to be the way they are, reminding us that anything is possible, that everything is possible, despite the fact that we routinely convince ourselves that things are just as they are—the way we’ve inherited them.

So yes, I’m interested in art and music and fiction that works against society’s indifference. That challenges the world we live in, the world we have inherited. I love work that shakes up our stable view of the world, work that trips us up or surprises us, that forces us to see the world differently. I love work that grapples with the self as a transient gossamer thing, easily obliterated and readily rebuilt. I’m interested in sex, in desire and the body, an art that champions the vulnerable, the fractured, the disenfranchised, the fucked-up.


2. What is this “need to document”? Of what use is it?

Well I think there’s a real sense that our that language has failed us, is failing us – that we no longer have the tools or even the words, the sentence structures to give voice to our present realities, that all too often the language we use has been compromised by history or co-opted and emptied out of meaning by our late capitalist reality.

So it’s about how we document and how we speak about our reality that’s the pressing concern. How do we capture the complexity, the beauty, the horror, the inventiveness of life here and now now?

I have little interest in documenting unless that document subverts or challenges accepted views of reality or allows us to really see not simply to recognise. Recognition occurs when we look at things without seeing them—when racism in Cape Town has become so familiar, we tune it out. Seeing, in contrast, happens when something makes us to look again, and regard a thing as though we’re encountering it for the first time.

When it comes to the documentary impulse I gravitate towards work that defamiliarises reality. Work that plays with is disastrous commingling of fact and fiction, blur the borders between artists/ viewer, author/ character in order to disparage authenticity where self is put at risk by naming names, becoming naked, making the irreversible happen. The writer/artist becomes exposed and vulnerable: you risk being foolish, silly, pathetic, wrong. The writing comes too close to reality, to the body, to the bone. This challenges the safe distance between the text and the world, the writer and the reader.


3. Can art be a means of historical elucidation, an apparatus for constructing truth?

I’m always wary of grand ideals of truth. Maybe I’ve just been poisoned by the homoglossic realism I’m encountering in so much writing today – a mode that privileges the power of language to reveal truth, the essential fullness and continuity and coherence of a self by which is built, rather than destroyed, by conflict. Much of this work assumes a position not too close, not too far away, a narrative structure which seems to me to covertly mirrors SA white suburbs where everything is contained and segregated, neatly walled off. It wants to offer us the authentic story of a self. But is this really what having a self feels like? Is it really the closest model we have to our condition? Or simply the bedtime story that comforts us most?

At the same time, yes, art can definitely operate as an apparatus for constructing personal truth. The best art is often its own adventure, a way characterized most definitely with error yet also with discovery and potential originality, which in time may well prove significant.


4. Is South Africa a productive field for art today? In what way? How would you describe the art scene here?

I’m kind of wary of categorisations like South African art or a South African art scene. Having grown up in South Africa under the Afrikaner Nationalist government and then lived through the rainbow national mythology of the present government, I’d rather not embrace any prescribed national identities. I have no interest in the South African art scene… I think part of the fuck up was how readily we adopted the existing prescribed models. This was a colossal fuck up in politics. It’s a colossal fuck up in art. So many fantastic brave subversive improvised models and strategies were developed during the apartheid years – both to resist the system of oppression and to challenge the horror of apartheid, but also to simply get by, to get work out there, to communicate. Artist, writers and musicians worked together; artists showed work on book covers and album covers; the pages of literary magazines became impromptu galleries; private book collections became public libraries; writing collectives were formed; improvised spaces became concert halls. Now it seems we’re all fighting to be part of or to be charge of the very same oppressive system that was resisted for so long. This is not a nostalgia for the apartheid era – god forbid! But more a call to recognise that the oppression hasn’t ended; a call to embrace and build on those strategies we have already developed and to develop new strategies that allow us to act and think, to be and yes, to breathe differently.

I’m humbled and grateful to be able to work with incredible, talented, smart, beautiful people right here in Cape Town who are doing that, who are creating a fantastically productive field to work in.


5. What is the role of music in film?

I think it’s a very powerful tool to perform precisely the kind of defamiliarisation I was talking about… so it can be used to provoke us to see differently, to see images differently and maybe even anew. Of course it might also allow us to dance or at least dance in our seats.


6. What can art tell us about Marikana? What can art do with Marikana? With “democracy” after Marikana?

I don’t really know if I can answer this.. I don’t really see Marikana as some kind of turning point, some kind of cataclysmic moment or disaster or event or “accident” to quote Paul Virilio. It seems to me that happened long before Marikana, that Marikana is but one of many terrible tragedies that happen in the aftermath.. or maybe its more that we’re at a tipping point, an event horizon, an ongoing accident?

I’ve just been reading Connie Willis’ fantastic science fiction short story, “Schwarzschild Radius.” I hope you will indulge me if I quote a long passage?

“When a star collapses, it sort of falls in on itself.” Travers curved his hand into a semicircle and then brought the fingers in. “And sometimes it reaches a kind of point of no return where the gravity pulling in on it is stronger than the nuclear and electric forces, and when it reaches that point, nothing can stop it from collapsing and it becomes a black hole.” He closed his hand into a fist. “And that critical diameter, that point where there’s no turning back, is called the Schwarzschild radius.”

Travers paused, waiting for me to say something.

He had come to see me every day for a week, sitting stiffly on one of my chairs in an

unaccustomed shirt and tie, and talked to me about black holes and relativity, even though I taught biology at the university before my retirement, not physics. Someone had told him I knew Schwarzschild, of course.

“The Schwarzschild radius?” I said in my quavery, old man’s voice, as if I could not remember ever hearing the phrase before, and Travers looked disgusted. He wanted me to say, “The Schwarzschild radius! Ah, yes, I served with Karl Schwarzschild on the Russian front in World War I!” and tell him all about how he had formulated his theory of black “holes while serving with the artillery, but I had not decided yet what to tell him.

“The event horizon,” I said.

“Yeah. It was named after Schwarzschild because he was the one who worked out the theory,” Travers said. He reminded me of Müller with his talk of theories. He was the same age as Müller, with the same shock of stiff yellow hair and the same insatiable curiosity, and perhaps that was why I let him come every day to talk to me, though it was dangerous to let him get so close.

“I have drawn up a theory of the stars,” Müller says while we warm our hands over the Primus stove so that they will get enough feeling in them to be able to hold the liquid barretter without dropping it. “They are not balls of fire, as the scientists say. They are frozen.”

“How can we see them if they are frozen?” I say. Müller is insulted if I do not argue with him. The arguing is part of the theory.

“Look at the wireless!” he says, pointing to it sitting disemboweled on the table. We have the back off the wireless again, and in the barretter’s glass tube is a red reflection of the stove’s flame.

“The light is a reflection off the ice of the star.”

“A reflection of what?”

“Of the shells, of course.”

I do not say that there were stars before there was this war, because Müller will not have an answer to this, and I have no desire to destroy his theory, and besides, I do not really believe there was a time when this war did not exist. The star shells have always exploded over the snow-covered craters of No Man’s Land, shattering in a spray of white and red, and perhaps Müller’s theory is true.

“At that point,” Travers said, “at the event horizon, no more information can be transmitted out of the black hole because gravity has become so strong, and so the collapse appears frozen at the Schwarzschild radius.”

“Frozen,” I said, thinking of Müller.

“Yeah. As a matter of fact, the Russians call black holes ‘frozen stars.’ You were at the Russian front, weren’t you?”


“In World War I.”

“But the star doesn’t really freeze,” I said. “It goes on collapsing.”

“Yeah, sure,” Travers said. “It keeps collapsing in on itself until even the atoms are stripped of their electrons and there’s nothing left except what they call a naked singularity, but we can’t see past the Schwarzschild radius, and nobody inside a black hole can tell us what it’s like in there because they can’t get messages out, so nobody can ever know what it’s like inside a black hole.”

“I know,” I said, but he didn’t hear me.

December 17, 2014

athi mongezeleli joja on the role of white artists and critics in the new south africa

Filed under: art,athi mongezeleli joja,politics — ABRAXAS @ 6:35 pm

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December 11, 2014

little miss muffet sat on a tuffet eating her curds and whey…

Filed under: art,caelan — ABRAXAS @ 5:19 pm


georges bataille on the impersonal fullness of life itself

Filed under: art,Georges Bataille,nicola deane,philosophy — ABRAXAS @ 9:03 am

“The blood and the organs brimful of life were not what modern anatomy would see, the feeling of the men of old can only be recaptured by an inner experience, not by science. We may presume that they saw in the fullness of the blood-swollen organs, the impersonal fullness of life itself.”

Georges Bataille
Erotism: Death and Sensuality

December 10, 2014

Filed under: art,nicola deane — ABRAXAS @ 3:59 pm


Filed under: art,nicola deane — ABRAXAS @ 9:53 am


percy mabandu interviews lefifi tladi

Filed under: 2005 - giant steps,art,chimurenga library,percy mabandu,politics — ABRAXAS @ 7:40 am

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first published here: http://chimurengachronic.co.za/propaganda-politics-art-activism-south-africa/

December 9, 2014

Filed under: art,nicola deane — ABRAXAS @ 3:34 pm


lerato shadi – makhuba

Filed under: art,lerato shadi — ABRAXAS @ 3:18 pm


Filed under: art,nicola deane — ABRAXAS @ 1:34 pm


nagmusiek author stephanus muller on art in south africa after marikana

Filed under: art,politics,six questions,stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 9:34 am


1. Do you think art can be didactic in a good way?

If you replace the ‘can be’ with ‘can be made to be’, I will answer with an unqualified yes. In the formulation you provide, I will have to give a qualified ‘yes’. Not all art, not all of the time, in other words, ‘can be didactic in a good way’. Art can, totally independent of its provenance or intentions, instruct, also instruct morally, and can therefore also be didactic in a good way. But it can also just give pleasure, or upset, or leave one indifferent. Art is also just a thing in itself, like war, or love, and can therefore just be that thing which exists in the world in the way that that particular thing exists. But can war be didactic in a good way? Yes. And love? Yes. And art? Yes. And interesting things (good things, moral things) can be learnt from it about life and about war and about love and about many other things too.


2. What is this “need to document”? Of what use is it?

The need to document derives from our (‘us humans’) curious awareness of death. In that sense, procreating is also a way of documenting (ourselves). Making art is documenting, collecting is documenting, writing is documenting. But actually, if one sees all need to document as an acknowledgement of mortality, then life itself is a way of documenting, of inscribing oneself in space and time. Thus art is life, or life is art. Both happen in the shadow of death. There is no other need for documenting, other than the need to come to terms with the fact that we are temporary and as an expression of our (sometimes) long and protracted farewell to our existence that starts as soon as we are born. This is also why, to return to your previous question, art (whatever it is) can be didactic in a good way. It not only provides a way for us to engage with non-being, but also with an-other being that gives us so much more life for the price of one.


3. Can art be a means of historical elucidation, an apparatus for constructing truth?

Yes. Of course, it goes without saying that answering this question in the affirmative also means that the obverse has to be true: art can be a means of historical obfuscation, and an apparatus for constructing lies. Adorno’s distinction between art and culture is meant to position art as the truth-seeking critical impulse and culture as the obfuscatory lie. Of course I simplify. But there is a problem with this, because Adorno equates art with the dialectical critical enterprise, whereas I think bad art (what I think he would call ‘culture’) also points to truth in a negative way, thereby fulfilling a critical function.


4. Is South Africa a productive field for art today? In what way? How would you describe the art scene here?

It depends on what you mean with ‘productive’. If you mean: a field abundant with the kinds of tensions, emotions, psychological extremes, forms, patterns, diversity, flows, shades, human conditions etc. that art thrives on, my answer would be: exceptionally so. But it comes at a heavy, perhaps excessive, price. And therefore if you mean ‘productive’ in the sense that this abundance has been productive for people who make art in South Africa, who ‘produce’, I would have to answer ‘no’. It seems to me as if the possibilities for such people in our circumstances are forced into two extreme options: Artistic response that opens itself fearlessly to the potential of this terrifying inferno, leading to the erasure of the boundaries between art and life in an act of self-destruction and resulting, ultimately, in the impossibility of art; artistic response that distances itself, in an act of self-preservation, from the danger of engagement described in the first response resulting, ultimately, in the impossibility of art. How would I describe the arts scene here? I speak as a musicologist: As the rat infested trenches holding both these positions with a no man’s land between them littered with sacrifices and failure and inevitability.


5. What is the role of music in film?

This is not a question I can answer. I know some of the theory, but that is not what you’d be interested in. It is not a question with which I have grappled. In the light of my previous answer, and the way film music has become the way to think about how South Africa relate to the world of ‘entertainment’ compositionally, I would extend the metaphor and say in our place and time the role of film music (as opposed to music in film) is to get the hell out of front line by pushing two pencils up your nose, faking insanity.


6. What can art tell us about Marikana? What can art do with Marikana? With “democracy” after Marikana?

You have allowed me to hoist myself with my own petard, as you are so fond of saying. For I have to say now: Art can be didactic in a good way about Marikana, art can document Marikana in the face of mortality, art can historically elucidate Marikana and be an apparatus for getting at the truth of Marikana. All the qualifications in questions 1-3 apply, of course, as well as the risks of the entrenched positions outlined in question 4. If Marikana as news event is the transient headline, the anodyne report, the depressing con, then art can tell us that Marikana is something other. Art can connect with Marikana to show how it is different to what the media have made it. Of course it cannot un-make, it cannot restore life to those massacred, but it can make the events signify differently, in different registers, connected to different historical and political forces. It can make us see Marikana, hear Marikana, feel Marikana. If nothing else, art can grieve for Marikana, and for ‘democracy’ after Marikana.


December 8, 2014

Black Arts collectives post 1994: A review from below by athi mongezeleli joja


Friday Easter in Khayelitsha, just after a friend delivered a simmering lecture on the political situation of post 1994 in a church, we had thought immediately to go to a nearby chisa-nyam (braai place) to eat and drown sorrows (death of Christ) with cold beers. Indeed we went and then reflected on the turn off of the event. Whilst we were eating and engaging, I in my own private thought cave pondered concentratedly of what befell the church people; the irrational lashes of black revolutionary and emancipatory politics. I had tried to imagine what unfurled in their minds, when in my Marecherain head the chimurenga bashed against the walls of my scalp with malevolent anger.


This thought, slightly interrupted by my gluttonous gnaws, ignored the victuals and looped on pondering. My mind in fact stumbled over, leaping through my penurious knowledge of biblical scenarios, as a way to support what had interrupted me: Black arts collectives in the township! It occurred to me that our cultural baneful moment, launched into consistency by its paucity of political imagination, was a venomous jab of self terrorization, by accepting carcasses of neo-liberal madness, posing as radical sometimes, to penetrate us. The scourge of art collectives making lengthy leaps back into zones once declared native-yards a.k.a. ‘still disadvantaged communities’, bothers me. Like the prodigal son returning home, or like Aime Cesaire returning to his native land, but more politically aligned with Thabo Mbeki’s African renaissance, collectives claim to re-turn back home, from exile, inside national borders. What marks this re-turn?


The post 1994 moment is said to mark the transition from apartheid to reconciliatory democracy. Well I am not eager to waste your energies convincing you about the obvious. I am interested in precisely asserting, nonetheless, the available upgrade; the melaninised continuity of apartheid, that is, white supremacy needs melanin to flourish these days. The retentions of the ‘past’ social composition bare testimony in post 1994 moment through the perpetuity of a racial vertical cartography. Andile Mngxitama says: “Post-1994 is a white heaven and the ANC is the guard at the door to keep the black riff-raff out. In exchange for this service the guard is permitted occasionally to grab leftovers from the rowdy white gluttony going on inside”. As Stuart Hall argues that the post-colony blurs lines between colonizers and colonized, post 1994 disenfranchises the majority for white interests by unraveling a rainbow in a state where social affairs are still imagined, inscribed and experienced in brutal racial continuities. Sometimes this rainbow pretends to rebuke the status qua with radical rhetoric, but albeit its overt dishonesty is a blatant gigantic obvious.


The post 1994 black bourgeoisie government (however one can argue about the validity of their bourgeois-ness) controls keys into the black majority’s plantation or owns means of production in marxist terms. It suspends its ‘parliamentary butt’ on the powerless majority. But sometimes this isn’t overtly done as it cushions its evils under RDP houses, grants, charities and patronage. To purge their guilt and legitimize their ‘human-ness’ it also assumes potentiality for a visual source and this source is contemporary art. This is a commodity and entertainment cosmetic display; “it is the conveyor-belt manufacture of counterfeits and narcotics for the enjoyment of a ‘creative class’ sated with novelty” (chto delat? 2008). It has seduced the cultural producers with prurient gaudy leaflets (funding) in exchange of a violent noisy silence. David Riff says it better when he opines: Money, the great matchmaker, is indifferent to art’s many uses. In the mute world of commodities, where all human labor is equal, the singularity of aesthetic experience makes no particular difference; all artworks mirror one another (2008). Here a somnolent offspring was born: ‘contemporary African Art’. And its silence ‘promises’ gold. It buttresses the political imbecility and amnesia hovering in art circles, because “the truth is that they are just business made into an ideology in order to justify the rubbish they deliberately produce” (Adorno and Horkheimer 1944). You ask maybe, how is silence noisy?


It is the noise howled from the top, whilst there are no concrete remittances paying the dues or framing the sound waves to words in flesh. It drops mute objects, an “obscurantisme terroriste” in front of a raging black poqo. This ‘political’ noise in essence is befuddled. But in their befuddle-ness albeit I argue its not neurotic, it knows how to “use their black skin and our black collective experience of sorrow to insert them in the economic mainstream”” (Mngxitama 2007). This time art gets a share in the wabenzi pathology. As ‘art’ used to be practically a city commodity fetish, suspended behind big glasses, objects black mercenaries produce to either relentlessly ease elite’s pains or compliment the ego of white art critics, now meanders back home. What to make of its “prodigal son” maneuver booming in our ghettoes these days? You think, have the city-lords and galleries gentrified them with their ‘mute objects’ back to the periphery? Besides the city reminding them of their race and demanding from them their ‘paas’, but also they ‘think at the limit’. The limiting constraints are recurrent reminders that thwart their full inclusion and participating in a game still played with racial tokens. The prodigal son returns home, a derelict home encroached by past injustices and assumes a philanthropic position: give back to the community. A most prurient and sentimental zone; he operates within these vicinities of the marginalized as insider. And “let us acknowledge that the most effective missionary is in fact the black missionary, someone who speaks the language” (Bohmke 2010). The poor prodigal son knows that “in the contemporary art game, the picture of excluded people’s politics is worth a lot to the included – including transnational corporations” (Holmes 2003). He mimics rebellion spitting ‘bombastic’ english that blinds these very communities while fetishly goei-ing deep indigenous jargon to the dizzying ngamlaz masquerading as defiance. Black arts collectives ubiquitously dispose themselves around local black communities with facile intentions. The objective premise is that of precisely legitimizing the dominion over the poor by strategizing themselves as voices not only speaking on the behalf but claiming speaking to them, for them. This presupposes that a requirement for a radical ‘blacklist’ of whiteness and its affiliations be extolled. It exposes and purges every until now eulogized element working against them, howling ‘black this and that’ but precisely its aims in the opposition politics are that of inserting themselves into hermitages that exclude and exploit blacks. This is merely a mise-en-scene contesting the ‘malestream’ for inclusion to the white art market.


Worst that one could deduce from this patina is the commodification of radical thought. The conundrum of commodifying the ‘black collective experience of sorrow’ by simulating ‘counter positions that are critical tools of challenging prevailing institutional practices’ as Gabi Ngcobo tries to convince us. Radical thought, oppositionlity, history etc via representative approach merely becomes fetishised but moreover the collectives’ self-aggrandizement. The spectaclisation of black collective sorrow and black radical thought engenders a very interesting dystopian horizon that of rampant lies already inscribed in representative democracy. This fashion now more grossly, besides spectaclising radical thought or collective sorrow, it under serious scrutiny belts out an anthropological display of the ghetto, availing it for deeper consumption. The lived reality of the people becomes part and parcel of what is sold. You hear people saying they proud of being in a ghetto. This pride presupposes two ambiguous positions, that of arrogance and that of lies. The former is the predilection of marginality without any traces of subversive undertones and the latter that of acute understanding the affluence of black melancholy which humanitarians consistently want to save. Though the latter could be pretty much progressive and subversive, but what remains problematic in it is its reciprocal relations with anti-black sentiments. It perpetuates precisely the fundamental project which our current ANC government propounds and supports.


In the zone of art, true ‘literature of combat’ as Lewis Nkosi calls it, has withered away, and under the madness of consumptive logic everything even truth is sold. So it is under this proliferation that black arts collectives, which I argue is a serial reality throughout the arts, they belt out their sorrow and sell it under radical rhetoric. But the big problem that still is a stark colossus is the fact that the black majority relentlessly suffers while everyone else pushes their names behind its sorrow.

Read texts;

Gabi gcobo. 2009. I have yur back: notes on recent collaborative strategies in south Africa and beyond, in arte invisible catalogue.

David riff; when art again becomes useful, chto delat? Website online

Chto delat?

Adorno & Horkheimer.1944. the culture industry: the enlightenment of mass deception.

Andile Mngxitama 2008. letter to the black consciousness collective. Online

Andile Mngxitama, 2009. grammar of suffering @ mail and guidaine online.

Heirich Bomkhe. 2010. white revolutionary as a missionary. Contemporary travels and researchers in caffaria, in New Frank talk #5.

Brian Holmes. 2003. liar’s Poker. online

Filed under: art,nicola deane — ABRAXAS @ 9:01 pm


a portrait of dina kuijers, art teacher

Filed under: art,caelan — ABRAXAS @ 5:19 pm


8 december 2014
crayon on card

December 7, 2014

Filed under: art,nicola deane — ABRAXAS @ 1:52 pm


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