Us is a show of new work by younger and more established local and international artists around the theme of group identity, whether nation, culture, class, gender, sexuality or race. This show emerges out of the context of the xenophobic violence in South Africa last year, as well as the ripple effects of the world economic crisis. There was an open call for artists to develop new work in conversation with their diverse contexts and each other around the complexities of difference and belonging. The show explores how the ‘substance’ of any US is often less fixed than constantly shifting, fluid and unstable. Taking place at two venues, the show opens with a daring and original selection of new performance work, sculptural installation, painting and photography, each exploring a point of view as unique as the show’s many Us’s.
Artists include Cape Town based collective, the Gugulective, Kemang Wa Lehulere, Donna Kukama, Mikhael Subotzky, Dorothee Kreutzfeldt, Bili Bidjoka, Laurence Bonvin, Dunjia Herzog, Andrew Putter, Themba Shibase, Kudzanai Chiurai, Zen Marie, Bridget Baker and others.
The show is curated by Simon Njami, founding editor of Revue Noir and curator of Africa Remix, and Bettina Malcomess, a writer and artist.
The show takes place at the Johannesburg Art Gallery, in partnership with the generous support of the Goethe Institute, as well as Prohelvetzia, and the Goodman Gallery at the Goodman Gallery Project space at Arts on Main.
Opening: 20 September 2009. JAG. 4pm
Opening: 26 September 2009. Goodman Project Space. Arts on Main. 12pm
A series of walkabouts and discussions of the show will be held by the curators.
Walkabout, Sat 26 September, Johannesburg Art Gallery, 11am-12. Bettina Malcomess and Simon Njami.
Discussion: at the Goethe Institute Project Space, Arts on Main, 3pm.
Title: Support group for those who feel they don’t belong – a discussion of difference in contemporary art. Hosted by the Gugulective.
Walkabout, Sun 11 October, 3:30 – 4pm, Johannesburg Art Gallery. Bettina Malcomess
Walkabout, 4pm – 5pm, Goodman Project Space, Arts on Main: with Bettina Malcomess and artists, showing performance work from the opening night by Zen Marie and Donna Kukama.
Mikhael Subotzky (b. 1981, Cape Town) is a Johannesburg based artist whose works in multiple mediums (including film installation, video, photography, collage and painting) attempt to engage critically with the instability of images and the politics of representation.
Subotzky has exhibited in a number of important international exhibitions, including most recently Masculinities: Liberation through Photography at the Barbican in London (2020), Inheritance: Recent Video Art from Africa at the Fowler Museum (UCLA) in Los Angeles (2019) and Ex Africa in various venues in Brazil (2017-18). His award-winning Ponte City project (co-authored with Patrick Waterhouse) was presented at Art Basel Unlimited in 2018. The full exhibition and archive of this
project has since been acquired by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and will be the subject of a monographic exhibition there in 2021.
Subotzky’s work is collected widely by international institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art (New York), Solomon R Guggenheim Museum (New York), the National Gallery of Art (Washington), Tate (London), Centre Pompidou (Paris), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the South African National Gallery, among others.
Subotzky’s work was included in Lubumbashi (2013) and Liverpool (2012) biennials. Pixel Interface, a multi-component video installation, was included in All The World’s Futures, curated by Okwui Enwezor at the 56th Venice Biennale (2015).
Kudzanai Chiurai (b. 1981, Zimbabwe) was born one year after Zimbabwe’s emergence from white-ruled Rhodesia. Chiurai incorporates various media into his practice, which is largely focused around cycles of political, economic and social strife present in post-colonial societies.
Chiurai’s artwork confronts viewers with the psychological and physical experience of African metropolises. From large mixed media works and paintings to photography and video, Chiurai tackles some of the most pressing issues facing these environments, such as xenophobia, displacement and inequality.
Chiurai has held numerous solo exhibitions since 2003 and has participated in various local and international exhibitions, such as Figures & Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography (2011) at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to Now (2011) at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Other notable exhibitions include The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited curated by Simon Njami at Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt (2014) and SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah USA (2015), as well as Art/Afrique, Le nouvel atelier (2017) at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, Regarding the Ease of Others (2017) at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Genesis [Je n’isi isi]- We Live in Silence at IFA in Stuttgart, Germany and Ubuntu, a Lucid Dream (2020) at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.
Chiurai’s Conflict Resolution series was exhibited at dOCUMENTA (13) (2012) in Kassel and the film Iyeza was one of the few African films to be included in the New Frontier shorts programme at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013. Chiurai has held numerous solo exhibitions with Goodman Gallery and has edited four publications with contributions by leading African creatives.
At present the artist lives and works in Harare, Zimbabwe.