Thursday, May 6, 2010

Jozi wet and mild

Here is one I prepared a little earlier... a late easter egg


Easter 2010 in Jozi was overly moist in a way that only lazy dripping low flying clouds are capable of. It still wasn’t enough of a deterrent to visit the Golden Apple Maboneng. Rain really does give the city streets a warm clean smell (if the sun isn’t far behind the shower) or a melancholic grey tinge that sharpens the darkness lurking in each city’s concrete heart. Why does it even rain in cities, where seemingly the only thing that grows after the rain are the potholes? Digression…

What is African Art was the question de jour for no apparent reason. A two soul tag team went out to fraternise with the galleries strung along 6th and 7th like the most random set of hos in some arty/bourgeois red light district. Oddly many of these hos had taken the day off. I didn’t mind, but took it personally that Gallery Momo took the day off as well. It was a small comfort to read the novel “no parking” sign in the car park through the bars running along the front of the gallery’s property; “Parking only for Mercedes” or something to that effect. It was a nice touch of the playfulness I suspect can be found within the gallery, something I am sure to find out at some later date. The other message which I definitely got due to the upwardly mobile areas the Momo ho was situated in was that yes, actually if you can whip a merc come park here, and you damn well better be able to afford the wares. Why not, weed out the art freebasers like myself that just get high off the product (especially for free) and sometimes even forget to say thank you as we stagger out into the real world, high off of next level views.

So the galleries were mainly closed, David Krut’s book sellers were open, worth a brows, especially if the disposable cash is really handy, three doors down (or was it up) was some hubris on display, attached to two communists (Trotsky & Che, great name for an intellectual cafe dive thing, no?) a mirror, photography and some sort of smoky filter… best thing about the place was the sign at he door “Open” (Animals and small people allowed) I was the animal my co-soul a small person. Ha, ha, we should have turned back right there. Entirely forgettable. Then horror of horrors Goodman had also capitulated to religious/commercial holidays, no need to hate any further. JAG to the rescue, but Zoo Lake intervened in between.

Art was strewn around the Zoo Lake lawn in semi organised lines. Well, the term art is rather loosely thrown in to this piece out of politeness... first impressions and all. One was that the white art (landscapes, Cape Dutch rustic homes, Winelands vistas) were all so well famed (not the wood restraining the image) but the actual painting its self. Is the white view of South Africa so compact, so neat, so nicely walled in? It was enough to bring on a rant, one not heard by the purveyors of the framed wall paper. But you know one man’s art is another man’s god knows what. So honestly, let’s call it art as well, accessible art, the sort of art that is content to perpetuate your stereo types, give your insecurities a clean comfortable pillow to rest on. In short, the Zoo Lake art is accessible. Actually I can live with that, as long as it’s in the homes of my least favourite people and 3 star hotels trying at respectability.

And so JAG, barren as hell JAG. So barren there was a scrawl on some of the bare white walls. Apparently it was a discussion on whether the scribbles were art. Yawn, move on. George Mahashe perked it up a touch. A touch. Photography is always beautiful however the setting maybe robbed the exhibition of impact. It wasn’t an experience if the Kwa Leboa ambiance was so contained; it was a goldfish bowl of Mahashe’s life. Frankly I so longed to be there in the moment, and not take a glimpse, maybe I just think that the thousand words spoken by Mahashe’s photography needed a context, and it wasn’t to be found on the barren white walls of JAG.

An ante room was filled with every day objects that Africans used… they had now donned the mantle of art. Eh? I guess if you are an archaeologist in the future looking back at say Twitter, you could find a reason to call it art. Why not? The headrests of a range of Southern African peoples qualified. The attire of a sangoma, walking sticks and even hair combs all were now boxed as art. JAG what are you saying about these anthropological, social, and actually functional implements, tools and objects? Given enough time for change to happen and the use of an object to become obsolete… we can now have art? It is human to beautify, and so a simple headrest can be made more pleasing to the eye, but the previous owners didn’t use the headrest on special occasions just because it was better carved then they aware a decade before. Now several decades down the line…. Art happened to the headrest. W-O-W.

Shabba Kgotlaetso gets a shout out for revealing himself fully. That shutter bug isn’t interested in manufactured beauty, life head on is more his forte. He made beautiful along with all the other contributors to the WORKSHOP NAME series of images. Over all the predominance of photography, rather drained the senses, and the range was too focused on documentary imagery. You know the fact of life presented as is. I tend to do galleries to get an idea of how life could be, I already know how life is. Nandipah Mntambo is a gorgeous woman always, sometimes a mind blowing artist as well, and those hands, get out! (NEWS FLASH! This is an utter gush, deal with it.) The one image of hers dancing with an imaginary bull in full matador regalia is a moment in time… it made me wish I was the bull. The lack of dust; the intense focus; the flare of her nostrils; and actually her powerful thighs in the tight matador attire…. all the wrong conclusions drawn together to frame a perfect moment in time. Made my damn day, wish I had seen it last not as I entered JAG.

Ghandi Square is the most. A real ordeal for the senses, ordeal in that it was all so beautiful and unexpected so right yet so wrong more so after a day of disappointments jostling with pleasant surprises. One street away a building demolished out of a long row of tall buildings looking like a missing tooth. Late afternoon sun, caressing the buildings sheltering the square one last time before it dipped, painted an urban romantic tapestry. The constant busses (albeit murmuring under Easter’s calm) and foot traffic, Ko Spotong blaring its existence to the entire square, simple, loud, unapologetic, nice. Yeah ne…


Hey, Shout out to Flo for making it all possible.

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