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It has been a difficult and an exciting year. Annually we handle projects such as the Museum Visibility Project for International Museum Day, Artflux Exhibition for youth month, The For Sale Project Exhibition (which will now be a bi-annual venture) as well as the Children Tile Art Project. However for me what stands out this year has been our attempt in Tshwane to establish an art residency program. Together with the education assistants of the Pretoria Art Museum we have been able to take several steps into this direction and this resulted in the exhibition of Azael Langa and Mpho Nkadimeng (16 September – 24 October) after the two artists spent six months creating art at Kopanong Art Studio.
We hope that when the residency program fully goes public in 2015 it’s management (Finance, Administration and Documentation) will be flawless, and that this initiative will live up to its simple goal: which is to advance the development of the visual arts in Tshwane. Thought: If, the purpose of Preparatory Programme of the Pretoria Art Museum has been to give hope and structure beyond the formal studies of the art students then the Residency Program will serve as a rigorous environment for the visual artist aspirant to experiment, explore and establish themselves as fine artists.
I will like to thank Rudzani Mabugana, Vincent Mfowethu, Lebogang Jaccinta Mosothoane and Lesego Violia Mthombeni for continuous keeping our guided tours administration records intact and up to date. I wish to also extend a thank you to both Thabang Monoa and Simon Radebe for their undying efforts in helping to establish the Kopanong Art Residency Program together with the artists – Azael Lang and Mpho Nkadimeng.
I will also like to congratulate: Thato Seboko, Mary-Jane Letsoalo, Noko Mello, Nalize Venter, Siphesihle Nonkanyiso Biyela, Seemole Eve Bodirwa and Refilwe Phetla for partaking in this year’s For Sale Project Exhibition in winter as well as for facilitating art making workshops in spring for the Children Tile Art Project. Mention must be made that while the Artflux Exhibition was curated by Thabang Monoa and Simon Radebe while the Children Tile Art Project was curated by Thato Seboko and Letlhogonolo Mogale. The accomplishments we saw with the residency program were in some vital part attributed to the involvement of quite a number of people whom failure to mention will be tantamount to a mountainous err: Many thanks to Motlalepule Constance Leteane of ConnieArt. Hoek Swaratlhe, Sindy Mbanjwa and Vusi Moses Ntombela of BASEMENT ART for enhancing our residency program with character.
So what will 2014 be about? We can first start by refining the goals we have reached this year so that if we begin to see a hint of something new starting to take shape in the horizon our experience can serve us as a guiding compass to attain the next step.
Azael Langa is a final year student in Fine and Applied arts at the Tshwane University of Technology. He grew up in an artistic family and was mostly inspired by his dad to pursue arts. At first he did not adhere to being an artist until he won his first art competition in grade 6. After his primary years he went to an art High school and it was there where he realized that, that was exactly what he wanted to be – an artist.
To me art is not a day job or career, but it is a lifestyle. My art is about socio-political activism and going about the subject I show the exploitation of the average joe; the corruption of the elite and bringing to the surface that which is of sight like they say “out of sight out of mind” it is also about taking the intangible events, circumstances and becoming a mediator to the public.
The Stepping_Stone exhibition showcases the following work of Azael Langa:
Azael describes this artwork as displaying the process of changing from one situation state or form to another. With an immense play on time and the interpersonal change in spheres the artist articulates that:
“This artwork can be described as a depiction of transition, not only in the physical sphere but in various spheres or forms; whether it’s physiological or an emotional transition of the soul. Various elements in the painting depict the transition factors of the painting. There are kids on the fore ground, one of which is holding a grass rug which is a domestic term symbolising home. These symbols represent a pilgrimage or a landscape carrying these items which are a symbol for a home, which also depicts a pilgrimage or seeking for somewhere to belong. As they are portrayed, the painting deals with three elements of their existence (a) their past, knowing that for them to be there, they have to be from somewhere, (b) their present, is where they find themselves in the surreal world which is chaotic (which I have archived by juxtaposing the real and sense of the hyper reality), yet with the desire to move to a better place (3) their future, which is the expectation they are carrying as they move with hope in their heart. The painting is also aimed at moving the viewer into two different spheres at the same time; on the one hand it pulls towards juxtaposed landscapes, on the other hand the kid is engaging with you as the viewer. The engagement is through eye contact, trying to bring the viewer into a different sphere, a sphere of the inner soul, the lost landscape of one’s past, the dreams, hopes and fears.”
Revelations is done with Acrylic paint on board and as the artist states “comments on the title of the artwork”. Revelations depicts chains intertwined as per say on a canvas, to depict the revelations and things that become revealed but often so easily get intertwined in life, making chains of truth become a shackle of lies. Langa explains: “I could argue, bring contrast and an interesting dialogue between the title itself and the contents on the painting, the word revelations is the word pertaining to the opening up, revealing and even disclosing. Chains usually depict the closing of access or even bending something up, prohibition of territory, yet five chains locked together can be a symbol of truth. This title is a close blow on how band up and often elusive truth can be. There is so much information out there in this day and age, yet we are living in a place where truth can be bound up, manipulated and or even hidden away. “Truth is truth, but a lie can be made into truth””.
I was here (2012)
This creation mediated with pencil & pastel on board speaks of the omnipresence that we so long to have or always try to perceive. The artists describes that “I was here …” are words that are used by people to “mark their presence, to leave behind a mark”. The fly represents “the use of flight” and is symbolic to represent “what is there in society yet pushed aside in order to maintain a certain image”. The artist means that there are certain things in society that are overlooked to maintain the ideal presence and ideological stance.
A train on its track depicted with oil on canvas, tackles the influences and the magnitude of which power has over people. The artists articulates that it does not matter where we are we are indeed influenced whether it be good or bad. This painting further depicts a young man on top of the train- showing a dangerous activity which is popular in the townships called train surfing. Langa explains: the youth risks their lives, surfing on these metro trains, which results in many unfortunate casualties and claims a great number of lives”. Langa explains that the title choice? allows him to question the way people think, and what the underplaying or dominant factors that populate public consciousness are. He elaborates by saying: “One can always look at popular media, peer pressure and even the social influence and impact society has on individuals. Looking at the young man who is standing on top of a train risking his life the viewer must be able to question; was the choice really taken by him or were there various, different avenues of influence on his life that brought him to this position. The painting also shows a small child in a pram on a railway- because humans are social beings, therefore every person represented in this painting is as vulnerable as a child being pushed in the pram that will be growing up the same way – in society.”
Behind the contents (2012)
This oil painting of a figure in a park, surrounded by newspapers, represents the uncovering of the context behind the text. It deals with the various faces of reality. Langa explains that “the title, Behind the contents, means looking beyond the cover, behind the index, beyond the contents page and into the real story. It goes beyond the ideologies society can build up, or the ideologies even the nation can build around them, and speaks of the truth behind the cover.”
The present (2012)
Painted with Oil on canvas, The Present depicts a translucent figure pushing a pram, with elements of fire and smoke shadowing the background. It plays on the double entendré of the word “present”. Langa explains: “This title has two meanings the “present”, a gift and the present tense. The child becomes the centre of the artwork. The women being behind the child having no identity, making the individual unimportant but can be seen as a metaphor for woman in general.
Fire is one of the elements in the painting, it is a very complex element that can be used to purify, warm up, and it also has a distractive property. If power was an important element in building our society it can be that its use or misuse leads to the presentation or destruction of our society.”
Stepping_Stone exhibition on display in the Pretoria Art Museum till 28 October 2012
The Corobrik Collection is a collection of ceramics that represents the development of studio ceramics and the work of the rural traditional potters of South Africa over the past thirty years. Linked to this development is also the growth of the Association of Potters of Southern Africa (APSA).
APSA was founded in 1972 and is the official representative body of potters in Southern Africa. It has branches in the Western and Eastern Cape, Kwa Zulu-Natal and has three branches that make up the Gauteng region. The objective of the Association is to promote ceramics in South Africa by improving the work being produced and to foster an interest in ceramics by the general public. This is done by presenting workshops and organizing exhibitions regionally, nationally and internationally. National Ceramics Quartely, a full coloured magazine is the official publication of APSA.
Initially the collection was started by Stellenbosch Farmers’ Winery who in 1977 became the sponsors of the APSA National and Regional Exhibitions and purchased the winning pieces from this exhibition to start a contemporary ceramics collection. When in 1982 Corobrik became the sponsors of APSA the pieces acquired by SFW became the beginning of the Corobrik Collection. The acquisition of the winning pieces from the Exhibitions continued and pieces were also contributed by APSA. This process continued until 1992 when Corobrik ceased the sponsorship of the exhibition and in 1996 created a trust between itself and APSA to ensure the future of the collection and to make funds available for the continued acquisition of contemporary South African ceramic art.
In the present economic and social situation in South Africa during this transition period, the support and sponsorship of the arts by corporate business is very necessary and important. That Corobrik, the largest clay brick manufacturers in the country, have continued to sponsor this ceramic collection bears testimony to their commitment to the arts and is indeed welcome.
The Corobrik Collection is housed in The Pretoria Art Museum.
N.B. The Corobrik Full Exhibition of ceramics opens on 24 October at 12:00pm
The above information was taken directly from the Corobrik brochure.
The following write-up is a contribution of Mme Tshepang D. Mojalefa, after her and Mme Philiswa Lila’s experience of a gathering centered on Ubuntu, the concept of humanity and self-love. It is hoped that this contribution to HORIZON7621 will leave the reader to re-consider self conduct. This entry asserts the bleak nature of our future with a lack of Ubuntu. It then sets the tone towards re-inserting Ubuntu in our conduct. The last part of the report highlights the structures of the workshops/sessions that were taken by the candidates who attended the Conference as an effort to reach an outcome.
A Short report
On a Tuesday, the 31st of August 2010, Philiswa lila, a member of the Creative Industries Consortium and my self had the privilege to attend a National Conference on Ubuntu organized by the National Heritage Council held at Gallagher Estate’s Convention Center in Midrand, Gauteng. The all day event which concluded with a gala dinner, as they call it, aimed to discuss issues of Ubuntu in the society or rather the lack thereof of Ubuntu in our society.
Ubuntu is a pleasant, very meaningful word we use everyday, but the problem is one, we don’t practice what we preach, wise words say: ‘easier said than done’, but is it impossible? A smile very once in a while, picking something up for the next person, helping a blind person cross the street etc., those are some of the simplest, yet most crucial things one can and should do everyday in the name of Ubuntu. Nowadays though, it has become difficult to greet the person next o you, afraid that they might not even take a glance at you, never mind respond. So it’s a lack of simple things like this that call for our urgent attention to our ‘falling-apart’ society every day, but we never respond because we are always worried, ‘what will people say?’
So the National Heritage Council of South Africa saw that there was no-one who had the guts to stand up and fight for the right thing. They responded to the urgent call by gathering our nation together in a conference setting, so as to ring the alarm in each South African and non South African alike about this nation’s pitfall. There is an urgent need to turn around, look and go back and reclaim and then live with the values of a just and a caring society. If things continue as they are, imagine our world in a decade or two or a century from now. It will be beyond disastrous. There’s still a chance now to make a change or to make a difference, but change has to start with me, as well as with every individual right now.
The Structure of the Conference
This three session conference was blessed by the presence of Prof. David Mosoma, who was the programme director of the first session. It was opened by Adv. Sonwabile Mancotywa, CEO of National Heritage Council, alongside Mr. Mike Mlengena, Chairperson of National Heritage Council, the key-note address was delivered by hon. Ms. Edna Molewa the minister of Social Development.
The second session, after our first tea/coffee break, was then held by Father Simangaliso Mkhatshwa as programme director. The speakers for this session were Adv. Enver Surty, the Deputy Minister for Education, who addressed Values in Education.
The next speaker, addressing Evolution and Application of Ubuntu Philosophy in a Democratic South Africa, was Dr. Mathole Motshekga, the chairperson of Commission on Religion and Traditional Affair. Then Pundit Ashwin Trikamjee, the General Secretary for National Religious Leaders Forum, rose to the occasion addressing Code of Conduct fo Persons in Position of Responsibility. This session is concluded by Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein, the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, who joked that he was the only thing standing between us and our lunch while talking about The Bill of Responsibilities.
After the delicious, top of the range lunch, we went to the third session of the conference led by a fellow called Mr. Sipho Sithole, briefing everyone on the workshops that were about to follow. These workshops were divided into four categories.
- Revival of the Values of a Just and Caring Society (Group I)
- Promotion and Collective Ownership of Values of Just and Caring Society (Group II)
- Towards Integration of Ubuntu Values into Public and Private Programs (Group III)
- Sustainable Measures for Safeguarding Values of Ubuntu in Society with tangible Outcomes and Benefits (Group IV)
Above, these were the topics given as a task to four groups, a topic per group, which were then led by:
- Dr. Wally Serote (Freedom Park) as the facilitator and Ms. Anna-Mari Pieterse ( Humanities Team SA and Ubuntu Day Action Group), as his Rapporteur. ( Group I)
- Father Simangaliso Mkhatshwa (Moral Regeneration Movement) as facilitator and Mr. Sipho Sithole (CRATA0, AS THE Rapporteur. (Group II)
- Hon. Mr. Richard Baloyi (Minister of public Service and Administration) as a facilitator, alongside Mr. James Gadinabokao (CRATA), AS HIS Rapporteur. (Group III)
- Prof. David Mosoma (NILC) as facilitator, assisted by Mr. Phakamani Mthembu (DAC), AS Rapporteur. (Group IV)
After having discussed and prepared the presentations, where Ms. Lila and I were in the last group, the respective groups were requested to go back into the conference hall, where our rapporteurs then presented the group’s discussion to everyone else and allowed time for some questions and comments from the audience. After the presentations,Ms. Pumla Madiba, a member of the National Heritage Council, had the honor of concluding the conference, bringing it to the most pleasant moment of the day, the Gala Dinner: time to eat!!!
Which of course, due to time not being on our side those of us who were transported by the private hire bus of the City of Tshwane had to leave for home. This hasty departure caused a conflict but nothing too serious.
© Tshepang D. Mojalefa 2010
The 25 September in terms of organizational structure and reassertion of what we mean to each other as an association remains a pinnacle to which many failed to climb or fully understand on the day in question. I have spent days after this day reminding each of you what that weekend meant besides the opening of KASI.
If my reading of the historical manifesto of the Creative Industries Consortium did not heighten our sense of understanding of where we are going in acknowledgement of those who have been here before us and the fertile conditions, in terms of possibilities, within which we are operating, then nothing will, then all things fail, for we cannot see beyond our limitations which actually defeats the core of our association and insults the day we found our way to the art museum.
The lamentations, the cry that I am wailing here is that of openness and open mindedness, it is a cry for self acceptance, it is that of letting go of our cultural barriers, it is that of, even at certain moments in the future, reevaluating our beliefs systems in order that we reach nirvana – freedom. For if what we are about or think we are all about limits our association with other people we are a micro spec of sand lost in the wind.
Let us be conscious that as long as we regard our individualism as paramount and neglect to acknowledge other people around us we run a risk of walking away from the situation at the Pretoria Art Museum having gained nothing in terms of enrichment. Yes we may move on to better situations as far as employment is concerned but we will not have had the chance of scratching the surface of group dynamics. The scratching of the present groups dynamics which surrounds us will enforce where we may spent the better part of our professionalism in the future. Let us move a little further.
These three terms, their order of appearance here is insignificant, they may appear simplistic listed as they are however they represent the three persona’s of the Education Assistant before their ideal actualization. I shall clarify my meditation so that we can move in one rhythm. When a visual artist aspirant, when a guide aspirant or more so when an art administrator aspirant makes their first appearance at the Pretoria Art Museum, the museum represents a gateway towards the actualization of the three terms above and beyond, however work must be done persistently towards these points. What stands between the aspirant and their goal is the rigorous preparation that they will undergo through the Preparatory Programme.
At this point in time we may deal with the question ushered in by the word ‘ideal’ which appears in the first paragraph above after the stating of the three personas. The ideals of the education assistant may be known or unknown however it does not take a soothsayer to know that they are tied neatly with the volunteer’s yearn to ‘being a successful some body’ at the end of their term at the museum. What I mean is that the volunteer becomes involved in the museum because the volunteer wants best developments in order that they are better positioned to make a living. How is this ‘best’ achieved? It cannot be achieved single handedly, it can only be achieved through group dynamics that work. Let us list the terms again, at this instance elaborating what each means to clear out confusion once and for all.
a) The Artist makes Artworks.
b) The Guide introduces and discusses the Artwork.
c) The Curator conceptualizes an exhibition, researches and presents the artworks formally for public consumption.
Now the reader can appreciate just how mutually inclusive these terms are to each other. Each of these terms, or if you will personas of the Education Assistant, cannot be without the existence of the other two. So when tradition of our group dynamics begs that we come together whether in doing work or a little get together to relax or celebrate it is not a question of domination or of rendering our racial difference or culture bare and apparent in order that we may be reminded that we are different from each other. It is a step towards revitalizing what we mean to each other as we chart a new pathway in visual development. It is to bring human nature itself into work, so that work can be worthwhile.
Aspirant, no monster is so rough, no monster is so illusive and crippling and distorting than pride. Get rid of it. Or get riddled in it, after all the choice remains with you. However if you are a team member be a team player – be love conscious.
4 Octobver 2010