Postcards from Africa: Avenue of coconuts, Nigeria, 2018
Ink on Yupo synthetic archival paper, hand engraved museum glass
Work: 87 x 115 cm
Goodman Gallery Cape Town
29 November – 19 January 2019
For the third edition of South-South, Goodman Gallery presents Between Land and Sea – a programme of exhibitions, films, public discussions and adjacent projects realised across Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Concurrent solo exhibitions by Alfredo Jaar and Ernesto Neto anchor this iteration of South-South alongside recent works by Laura Lima in the Johannesburg viewing room and a group show in the Cape Town project space featuring work by Sue Williamson, El Anatsui and Kapwani Kiwanga. The film programme, co-curated by Paula Borghi and Lara Koseff, will run in Cape Town alongside the launch of a new publication documenting the previous South-South, Let me begin again , edited by curator Koseff and co-curator Renato Silva.
Between Land and Sea emerges in response to the practices of these artists who explore constructions of social space and the natural world, freedom of movement, the real and the imagined spaces between continents and the limits and ethics of representation. The sea has long been deployed in the arts as a metaphor for a ‘non-place’ and as a gateway to the transcendental and transformational. The sea is figured as a ‘zone of exception’ that constitutes and contests the hegemonic geographies of place. It marks an edge in the form of a horizon, beyond which imaginaries exist. It is a connector of continents, serving ancestral voyages, trade, exploration and exploitation – a pathway that has integrated cultures throughout history.
Sue Williamson (b. 1941, Lichfield, UK) emigrated with her family to South Africa in 1948. Trained as a printmaker, Williamson also works in installation, photography and video. In the 1970s, she started to make work which addressed social change during apartheid and by the 1980s Williamson was well known for her series of portraits of women involved in the country’s political struggle. A Few South Africans is one such a series where she celebrates women who had played roles in the fight for freedom.
Referring to her practice, Williamson states: “You become aware of the audience to whom you speak. In that sense, you think backwards: what you have to say, whom you say it to, and how it will reach the audience. Having to consider your work through the eyes of somebody who knows nothing about you as an artist and what you are doing is a useful exercise.” Williamson has managed to avoid the rut of being caught in an apartheid-era aesthetic, “I am never particularly interested in doing what I did the last time. I take one thing and work it out a number of ways.”
In 2018, Williamson was Goodman Gallery’s featured artist at the FNB Joburg Art Fair, where she exhibited her work Messages from the Atlantic Passage, a large-scale installation of shackled, suspended glass bottles engraved with profiles of 19th-century victims of slavery. This installation was also exhibited that year at Art Basel in Switzerland and at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India.
Williamson’s works feature in numerous public collections across the globe, including those at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA, Tate Modern, London, UK, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA, Wifredo Lam Centre, Havana, Cuba, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa, and Johannesburg Art Gallery, South Africa.
Williamson has received various awards and fellowships such as the Bellagio Creative Arts Fellowship 2011, Italy, Rockefeller Foundation, the Visual Artist Research Award Fellowship 2007, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA and the Lucas Artists Residency Fellowship 2005, Montalvo Art Center, California, USA.
Sue Williamson lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa.
Kapwani Kiwanga studied anthropology and comparative religion at McGill University (Montreal, CA). She has followed the program “La Seine” at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris, and also works at Le Fresnoy (a french national center for contemporary art). She was artist in residence at the MU Foundation in Eindhoven (NL) and at the Box in Bourges (FR). Kiwanga was the inaugural winner of the 2018 Frieze Artist Award and in 2019 held a solo exhibition at MIT List Visual Arts Center and was on group exhibitions at Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, as well as Whitechapel and Serpentine Sackler galleries in London.
Working with sound, film, performance, and objects, Kapwani Kiwanga relies on extensive research to transform raw information into investigations of historical narratives and their impact on political, social, and community formation. The Paris-based artist’s work focuses on sites specific to Africa and the African diaspora, examining how certain events expand and unfold into popular and folk narratives, and revealing how these stories take shape in objects and oral histories. Trained as an anthropologist, Kiwanga performs this role in her artistic practice, using historical information to construct narratives about groups of people. Kiwanga is not only invested in the past but also the future, telling Afrofuturist stories and creating speculative dossiers from future civilizations to reflect on the impact of historical events.
El Anatsui (b. 1944, Ghana) is an internationally acclaimed artist who transforms simple materials into complex assemblages that create distinctive visual impact. He uses resources typically discarded such as liquor bottle caps and cassava graters to create sculpture that defies categorization. His use of these materials reflects his interest in reuse, transformation, and an intrinsic desire to connect to his continent while transcending the limitations of place. His work can interrogate the history of colonialism and draw connections between consumption, waste, and the environment, but at the core is his unique formal language that distinguishes his practice.
Anatsui is well-known for large scale sculpture composed of thousands of folded and crumpled pieces of metal sourced from local alcohol recycling stations and bound together with copper wire. These intricate works, which can grow to be massive in scale, are both luminous and weighty, meticulously fabricated yet malleable. He leaves the installations open and encourages the works to take different forms every time they are installed.
In 2015, Anatsui was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, the Venice Biennale’s highest honor. Anatsui’s solo exhibition Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui, was organized by the Akron Art Museum, Akron, Ohio (2012), and traveled to the Brooklyn Museum, New York and the Des Moines Art Center, Iowa (2013); then to the Bass Museum of Art in Miami, Florida (2014); and concluded at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, California (2015). In 2019, El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale, a major career survey curated by Okwui Enwezor, opened at Haus der Kunst and is due to travel to Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Kunstmuseum Bern and Guggenheim Bilbao.
Anatsui currently lives and works between Ghana and Nigeria.