In Context presents a diverse group of international and South African artists who share a rigorous commitment to the dynamics and tensions of place, in reference to the African continent and its varied and complex iterations, and to South Africa in particular. The works – wide-ranging, frequently provocative – engage with a number of pressing questions about space, context, and geography.
In this gathering of artists – envisioned as a series of conversation and engagements – the question of context is posed once again, but problematised in various ways. The terms ‘local’ and ‘international’ are given new emphasis (especially at this juncture and in the context of one of the largest sporting events on the planet) and the following questions are posed: What does it mean to be a local artist in this age of the global? Do African artists wish to continue speaking of context? How do artists of the African Diaspora reflect on their distance from and proximity to home? Where is home? How have some artists living in Europe and the Americas inherited and absorbed an African heritage or sensibility, even when they have not visited the Continent? Have we reached a point in the story of contemporary art in which the term ‘African artist’ can be dispensed with or do we still require it as a marker of distance from Europe and North America? To what extent does the global art market rely upon or exploit the term to sell art in Europe and North America? Is there thus a distinction to be made between the way in which African artists represent themselves and the ‘Western’ reception of contemporary art from Africa?
Rather than present only artists from the African continent in this project, In Context also considers the works of artists who, though they may have some interest in South Africa, have not visited the country or anywhere else in Africa. Their connection to the continent might be one they have inherited from the history of slavery, or from the displacements of Diaspora and exile. The aim is to generate conversations between works and even to assess the relevance of the questions we have raised in the face of the works themselves. We may find ourselves entirely surprised by the answers. We hope to be provoked, to open engagements that overturn the concerns and themes we have offered, that render them more rather than less problematic, or that dispense with them altogether. We may indeed find that individual practice casts an entirely different light on the question of context.
In Context will take place in a number of non-commercial venues and, through a series of talks, walkabouts, and panel discussions, will promote engagement both with artists and audiences. The partners in this project take seriously the need to begin a number of collaborations that can be sustained beyond the events of In Context. They also seek to reach a wider audience than the usual gallery visitors and to promote appreciation of art through unconventional interventions outside of the traditional gallery space.
Candice Breitz (b. 1972, Johannesburg, South Africa) is an artist whose moving image installations have been shown internationally. Throughout her career, Breitz has explored the dynamics by means of which an individual becomes him or herself in relation to a larger community, be that community the immediate community that one encounters in family, or the real and imagined communities that are shaped not only by questions of national belonging, race, gender and religion but also by the increasingly undeniable influence of mainstream media such as television, cinema and popular culture. Most recently, Breitz’s work has focused on the conditions under which empathy is produced, reflecting on a media-saturated global culture in which strong identification with fictional characters and celebrity figures runs parallel to widespread indifference to the plight of those facing real-world adversity.
Solo exhibitions of Breitz’s work have been hosted by the Kunstmuseum Bonn (Germany), Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Palais de Tokyo (Paris), The Power Plant (Toronto), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Humlebæk), Modern Art Oxford, De Appel Foundation (Amsterdam), Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art (Gateshead), MUDAM / Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (Luxembourg), Moderna Museet (Stockholm), Castello di Rivoli (Turin), Pinchuk Art Centre (Kyiv), Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, Bawag Foundation (Vienna), Temporäre Kunsthalle Berlin, White Cube (London), MUSAC / Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (Spain), Wexner Center for the Arts (Ohio), O.K Center for Contemporary Art Upper Austria (Linz), ACMI / The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (Melbourne), Collection Lambert en Avignon, FACT / Foundation for Art & Creative Technology (Liverpool), Blaffer Art Museum (Houston) and the South African National Gallery (Cape Town).
Selected group exhibitions include South Africa: the art of a nation (British Museum, London, 2016), Laughing in a Foreign Language (The Hayward, London, 2008), The Cinema Effect (Hirshhorn Museum + Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., 2008), Made in Germany (Kunstverein Hannover, 2007), Superstars (Kunsthalle Wien, 2005), CUT: Film as Found Object (Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, 2004), Continuity + Transgression (National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 2002), Thank You for the Music (Kiasma Museum of Modern Art, Helsinki, 2012), Rollenbilder – Rollenspiele (Museum der Moderne Salzburg, 2011), Performa (New York, 2009), Contemporary Outlook: Seeing Songs (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2009), Remix: Contemporary Art and Pop (Tate Liverpool, 2002) and Looking at You (Museum Fridericianum, Kassel, 2001).
Breitz has participated in biennales in Johannesburg (1997), São Paulo (1998), Istanbul (1999), Taipei (2000), Kwangju (2000), Tirana (2001), Venice (2005, 2017), New Orleans (2008), Göteborg (2003 + 2009), Singapore (2011) and Dakar (2014). Her work has been featured at the Sundance Film Festival (New Frontier, 2009) and the Toronto International Film Festival (David Cronenberg: Transformation, 2013).
Her work has been acquired by museums including the Museum of Modern Art,the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Jewish Museum (in New York), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Humlebæk), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus (Munich), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), FNAC / Fonds national d’art contemporain (France), Castello di Rivoli (Turin), Hamburger Kunsthalle (Hamburg), M+ / Museum of Visual Culture (Hong Kong), Milwaukee Art Museum, Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, MUDAM / Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (Luxembourg), MUSAC / Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (León, Spain), Kunstmuseum Lichtenstein (Vaduz), MONA / Museum of Old and New Art (Tasmania), QAG GOMA / Queensland Art Gallery (Brisbane), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston) and MAXXI / Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo (Rome).
Breitz holds degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg), the University of Chicago and Columbia University (NYC). She has participated in the Whitney Museum’s Independent Studio Program and led the Palais de Tokyo’s Le Pavillon residency as a visiting artist during the year 2005-2006. She has been a tenured professor at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Braunschweig since 2007.
Candice Breitz lives and works between Cape Town, South Africa and Berlin, Germany.
Hank Willis Thomas (b. 1976, New Jersey, United States) is a conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to perspective, identity, commodity, media, and popular culture.
Thomas has exhibited throughout the United States and abroad including the International Center of Photography, New York; Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain; Musée du quai Branly, Paris; Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong, and the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Netherlands.
Thomas’ work is included in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Brooklyn Museum, New York; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
His collaborative projects include Question Bridge: Black Males, In Search Of The Truth (The Truth Booth), Writing on the Wall, and the artist-run initiative for art and civic engagement For Freedoms, which in 2017 was awarded the ICP Infinity Award for New Media and Online Platform. Thomas is also the recipient of the Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship (2019), the Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (2018), Art for Justice Grant (2018), AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize (2017), Soros Equality Fellowship (2017), and is a member of the New York City Public Design Commission. Thomas holds a B.F.A. from New York University (1998) and an M.A./M.F.A. from the California College of the Arts (2004). In 2017, he received honorary doctorates from the Maryland Institute of Art and the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts.
Joël Andrianomearisoa was born in Antananarivo, Madagascar, in 1977. He lives and works between Antananarivo and Paris. Andrianomearisoa says of his work: ‘The only thing that matters to me is to deal with time. And what frightens me most is never to be on time, to be outdated. My way of answering this challenge is to be permanently against the current’. In his ‘dealing with time’ Andrianomearisoa falls into no clear category: his work crosses boundaries into video, fashion, design, sculpture, photography, performance, and installation. But perhaps his works in paper and textile are most indicative of his larger interests. Black features prominently, especially in his textile works, which hover enticingly between the ephemeral and the permanent. These works are partly sculptured and partly left to the chance and serendipity of the material with which he works. The same may be said of the performance and video works on which he has collaborated.
Andrianomearisoa has participated in a number of group shows, including Africa Remix; Rencontres Africaine de la Photographie in Bamako; the Havana Biennale; Fashion in Motion; the Design Biennale in St Etienne, France; and Africa Now!. His solo shows include Bir Gece, a one-night performance and installation in Istanbul; Habillé – Deshabillé, a performance/video piece in Stockholm and Saint-Brieuc; Bar and Une Histoire in Antananarivo (2004 and 2008 respectively); Black Out in Istanbul; and I don’t know how to begin, I don’t know how it will end in Ghent.
Loris Cecchini was born in Milan in 1969 and moved to Siena in 1977, where he lived until 1989, earning a diploma at the city’s art school. He spent two years at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence, and then studied painting at the Accademia di Brera, Milan. He graduated in 1994 with a thesis on the films of Wim Wenders. He now lives between Prato and Berlin. Cecchini held his first solo show in Milan and participated in group shows at Galleria Continua in San Gimignano. He continued his work in photography and sculpture, and in 2001–02 produced his first spatial works of architectural-sculptural inspiration. In the exhibition catalogue for Cecchini’s show Dotsandloops, the critic Marco Bazzini comments that ‘If we were to imagine Cecchini’s deviation into another discipline, architecture would come to mind. The association arises from the constructive and deconstructive impulses that have made him stand out over the last decades.’ Cecchini is drawn to biomorphic forms, as well as to the relationship between the synthetic and the natural. These concerns can be clearly traced not only in the materials he has utilised (aluminium, Plexiglass, various types of plastics like PVC and PETG, mirrors, urethane rubber, optical lighting) but also in the methods of construction (moulding, welding, wiring, technical drawing, computer-generated draughting, and laser cutting) and in the intricate shapes and structures of his many sculptural works. The influence of technology is clear, but Cecchini appears to want to inhabit technology, to examine hi-tech objects and structures from the inside out in order to understand our relation to them.
Cecchini has participated in numerous exhibitions in international institutions, including the Palazzo delle Papesse in Siena (1998) and the Museo di Castel Nuovo in Naples (2000). He has shown work at the Taipei, Venice, Valencia, and Shanghai biennales, at Galleria Continua in San Gimignano and Beijing (1998, 2003, 2007, 2010), and has had solo shows at PS.1 in New York (2006), the Palais de Tokyo (2004-2007), Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci (2009), and Musée d’Art Moderne de Saint-Etienne Métropole (2010).
Born 1970 in Dugny (Seine Saint-Denis), Kader Attia grew up in a Paris suburb where the graves of the French royal dynasties are to be found – an area which is also a hotspot of intercultural conflict. This has had a decisive impact on his work. Using his own identity which has been defined by several cultures as the starting point, he tackles the increasingly difficult relationship between Europe and immigrants, particularly those of Islamic faith. In doing so he does not allow himself to be tied down to one specific medium. His photographic work and films portray the smouldering conflicts arising from a history of French colonialism and are characterised by an exceptional attention to detail. The allegorical minimalism of his sculptures and installations are frequently unsettling owing to the discord between their external sensory appeal and their controversial content. Kader Attia was nominated for the Marcel Duchamp Prize in 2005.
Patrick Waterhouse was born in 1981 in Bath, England. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the Camberwell College of Art and worked for a time with a design agency in London before joining Fabrica to publish a fully illustrated version of Dante’s Inferno. He has been a guest editor of Colors Magazine and art director of the Benetton social campaign, Africa Works. A long-term project has produced a book on the life and work of the Hungarian sociologist Franktof F. Burnsteins, Absolute Truth and Other Possibilities. Waterhouse met Mikhael Subotzky in Italy and the two have been working on the Ponte City project since 2008.
Bili Bidjocka was born in Douala, Cameroon, in 1962, but lived in Paris from the age of twelve. Nowadays, he moves between Paris, Brussels, and New York. Though he says of himself that he is a painter not a writer, Bidjocka acknowledges that he often begins a work with writing, with a title. ‘I am more inspired by writing than by painting’ he says. He has made works that are indicative of this impulse, the impulse to write, to reflect on writing, and, by extension, to create an archive of his own travels, memories, and experiences, but also of the memories and thoughts of others. This led to his creating an ongoing Le carnet de voyage and also a mammoth project called L’écriture infinie – envisioned as the ‘biggest archive of handwriting in the world’ in which people write as if what they are writing is the last thing they will write by hand in their lives. Bidjocka is inspired by African knowledge systems and draws on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. A spectacular beaded curtain invokes the Seder question, ‘Why is this night different from all other nights?’ and suggests associations with sacred practices. A photograph of Venice adorned with beaded script inspired by Arabic texts asserts an Islamic presence largely occluded in the centres of Europe. In all of these movements, across religious and secular texts and practices, Bidjocka asserts the primacy of making meaning out of experience.
Bidjocka has exhibited in the Johannesburg, Havana, Dakar, Taipei, and Venice biennales. He has also participated in landmark international exhibitions such as Zeitwenden at the Kunstmuseum in Bonn in 1999; Black President at the New Museum, New York in 2003; and Africa Remix (Düsseldorf, London, Paris, Tokyo, and Johannesburg, 2005–2007). In collaboration with Emily Cantrell and Jesus Polanco, he founded Matrix Art Project in 1995, a contemporary exhibition space in New York with branches in Paris and Brussels.
Jenny Holzer was born in the village of Gallipolis, in southeastern Ohio, USA, in 1950. She first visited New York City when she was eleven, and eventually moved there in 1977 when she was accepted into the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program. She had studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and at a certain point during her MA there, she began incorporating text into her paintings. She wrote her first Truisms in 1977. In an interview with Diane Waldman in 1989 (published in Jenny Holzer, Guggenheim Museum), Holzer talks about what motivated her decision to begin writing and more or less abandon painting as she had practiced and studied it up to that point: ‘I wanted to see if I could make anything that would be of use to or have some kind of meaning for a general audience, people on their way to lunch who didn’t care anything about art.’ She also says that in incorporating her work into the signage and furniture of a city like New York (she has, over the years, placed work in many other urban spaces all over the world) she didn’t want either complete control of complete chaos, ‘but both there in their extreme forms, not averaged.’ To this end, Holzer has employed every kind of public sign writing to make art that is incorporated into the public architecture of cities.
Holzer has been doing solo and collaborative installations and exhibitions in galleries and urban environments all over the world since 1978, including in New York, Berlin, Venice, Osaka, Lund, Boston, Hamburg, London, Paris, Saõ Paolo, and Seoul. These works have taken the form of LED signs, pastings, posters, light installations, writing on stone, billboards, plaques, graffiti, prints, projections, t-shirts, and tattoos. She is also a painter and printmaker – her canvases are strongly text based – and has published books, essays, and stories. She has done a number of special projects for various cities and these include LED installations, electronic signs, projections, and engravings on benches. Holzer has won several major awards including honorary doctorates, the Leone d’Oro at the Venice Biennale, and the Goslar Emperor Ring.
Michelangelo Pistoletto was born in the town of Biella at the foot of the Italian Alps in 1933. He began exhibiting his work in 1955, and in 1960 had his first solo show at Galleria Galatea in Turin. An inquiry into self-portraiture characterises his early work: in 1961–62, he made his first Mirror Paintings, which directly include the viewer and real time, opening up and reversing the Renaissance perspective closed by the twentieth-century avant-garde. These works, which brought Pistoletto international acclaim and led to solo shows in galleries and museums in Europe and the US, are foundational to his artistic output and theoretical thought. In 1965 and 1966 he produced his Minus Objects, considered fundamental to the birth of Arte Povera, a movement of which Pistoletto was an animating force and proponent. In 1967, he began working outside traditional exhibition spaces and also initiated ‘creative collaborations’ with artists from different disciplines and sectors of society. In 1975–76 he presented a cycle of twelve consecutive exhibitions, Le Stanze, at Galleria Stein in Turin, the first in a series of complex, year-long works called ‘time continents’. In 1978, in a show at Galleria Persano in Turin, Pistoletto outlined two main directions his future work would take: Division and Multiplication of the Mirror and Art Takes On Religion. In the early eighties he made a series of sculptures in rigid polyurethane, translated into marble for his solo show in 1984 at Forte di Belvedere in Florence. From 1985–89 he created the series of ‘dark’ volumes called Art of Squalor. During the nineties, with Project Art and with the creation in Biella of Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto and the University of Ideas, he brought art into relation with diverse spheres of society, with the aim of inspiring responsible social change.
In 2003 Pistoletto won the Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion for Lifelong Achievement and a year later, when the University of Turin awarded him a laurea honoris causa in Political Science, he announced what has become the most recent phase of his work, Third Paradise. In 2007, in Jerusalem, he received the Wolf Foundation Prize in the Arts, and in 2008, Cittadellarte was awarded the Special Prize City of Sasso Marconi for innovative languages of communication. This year he has a retrospective at the Contemporary Art Museum in Philadelphia.
William Kentridge was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1955. His career has spanned five decades and his work has been shown in major museums, galleries, fairs and biennials around the world since the 1990s, including Documenta in Kassel, Germany (1997, 2003, 2012), the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1998, 2010), the Albertina Museum in Vienna (2010), Jeu de Paume in Paris (2010), and the Musée du Louvre in Paris (2010), where he presented Carnets d’Egypte, a project conceived especially for the Egyptian Room. Kentridge’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute was presented at Theatre de la Monnaie in Brussels, Festival d’Aix, and in 2011 at La Scala in Milan, and his production of Shostakovich’s The Nose was seen at The New York Metropolitan Opera in 2010 and again in 2013, travelling to Festival d’Aix and to Lyon in 2011. The five-channel video and sound installation The Refusal of Time was made for Documenta (13) in Kassel, Germany, in 2012; since then it has been seen at MAXXI in Rome, the Metropolitan Museum, New York, and in many other cities including Boston, Perth, Kyoto, Helsinki and Wellington. A substantial survey exhibition of Kentridge’s work opened in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, going on in following years to Porto Alegre, São Paulo, Bogota, Medellin, and Mexico City. In the summer of 2014 Kentridge’s production of Schubert’s Winterreise opened at the Vienna Festival, Festival d’Aix, and Holland Festival. In the fall it opened at the Lincoln Center in New York. Paper Music, a concert of projections with live music by Philip Miller, opened in Florence in September 2014, and was presented at Carnegie Hall in New York in late October 2014. Both the installation The Refusal of Time and its companion performance piece Refuse the Hour were presented in Cape Town in February 2015. More recently, Kentridge’s production of the Alban Berg opera Wozzeck premiered at the Salzburg Festival in 2017 and last year his acclaimed performance project The Head & The Load opened at Tate Modern in London, and travelled to Park Avenue Armory in December 2018. In June 2019, A Poem That I Used To Know opened at Kunstmuseum, Basel in Switzerland, which travelled to LaM in Lille in early 2020. Why Should I Hesitate, a major survey show, divided across the Norval Foundation and Zetiz MOCAA, both in Cape Town, opened in late August 2019 and will run until July 2020. In addition, Kentridge’s new opera project, Waiting for the Sibyl, premiered at Teatro dell’Opera di Roma in September 2019 and will be seen in several European cities in 2020.
In 2010, Kentridge received the prestigious Kyoto Prize in recognition of his contributions in the field of arts and philosophy. In 2011, he was elected as an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and received the degree of Doctor of Literature honoris causa from the University of London. In 2012, Kentridge presented the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University and was elected member of the American Philosophical Society and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Also in that year, he was awarded the Dan David Prize by Tel Aviv University, and was named as Commandeur des Arts et Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. In 2013, William Kentridge was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts by Yale University and in 2014 received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Cape Town. In 2017, Kentridge received the Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts in Spain and 2019, he was honoured with the Praemium Imperiale Laureate: Painting by the Japan Art Association in Tokyo.
mounir fatmi was born in Tangiers, Morocco, in 1970. When he was four, his family moved to Casa-blanca. At the age of 17, he traveled to Rome where he studied at the free school of nude drawing and engraving at the Acadaemy of Arts, and then at the Casablanca art school, and finally at the Rijksakad-emie in Amsterdam.
He spent most of his childhood at the flea market of Casabarata, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Tangiers, where his mother sold children’s clothes. Such an environment produces vast amounts of waste and worn-out common use objects. The artist now considers this childhood to have been his first form of artistic education, and compares the flea market to a museum in ruin. This vision also serves as a metaphor and expresses the essential aspects of his work. Influenced by the idea of de-funct media and the collapse of the industrial and consumerist society, he develops a conception of the status of the work of art located somewhere between Archive and Archeology.
By using materials such as antenna cable, typewriters and VHS tapes, mounir fatmi elaborates an experimental archeology that questions the world and the role of the artist in a society in crisis. He twists its codes and precepts through the prism of a trinity comprising Architecture, Language and Machine. Thus, he questions the limits of memory, language and communication while reflecting upon these obsolescent materials and their uncertain future. mounir fatmi’s artistic research consists in a reflection upon the history of technology and its influence on popular culture. Consequently, one can also view mounir fatmi’s current works as future archives in the making. Though they represent key moments in our contemporary history, these technical materials also call into question the transmission of knowledge and the suggestive power of images and criticize the illusory mechanisms that bind us to technology and ideologies.
Since 2000, Mounir fatmi’s installations have been selected for several biennials, the 52nd and 57th Venice Biennales, the 8th Sharjah Biennale, the 5th and 7th Dakar Biennales, the 2nd Seville Biennale, the 5th Gwangju Biennale, the 10th Lyon Biennale, the 5th Auckland Triennial, the 10th and 11th Bamako Bien-nales, the 7th Shenzhen Architecture Biennale, the Setouchi Triennial and the Echigo-Tsumari Trienni-al in Japan. His work has been presented in numerous personal exhibits, at the Migros Museum, Zur-ich. MAMCO, Geneva. Picasso Museum La Guerre et la Paix, Vallauris. AK Bank Foundation, Istan-bul. Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf and at the Gothenburg Konsthall. He has also participated in several group exhibitions at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Brooklyn Museum, New York. Palais de Tokyo, Paris. MAXXI, Rome. Mori Art Museum, Tokyo. MMOMA, Moscow. Mathaf, Doha, Hayward Gallery and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven and at Nasher Mu-seum of Art, Durham.
He has received several prizes, including the Uriöt prize, Amsterdam, the Grand Prix Léopold Sédar Senghor at the 7th Dakar Biennale in 2006, as well as the Cairo Biennale Prize in 2010.
Thomas Mulcaire was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1971. He began a Fine Arts degree at Wits University, and then travelled abroad before returning to complete a BA degree in History of Art and Literature at Wits in 1993. He now lives in Ubatuba, Brazil. Mulcaire’s work takes many different forms and crosses into film, photography, sculpture, and installation. In particular, he has worked on a number of collaborations that interrogate the assumed limits of authorship in relation to the artwork. One such project is the Interpolar Transnational Art Science Constellation (ITASC), which he founded in 2005 with Marko Peljhan.
ITASC is described on their website as ‘a decentralized network of individuals and organisations working collaboratively in the fields of art, engineering and science on the interdisciplinary development and deployment of renewable energy, waste recycling systems and sustainable architecture to enable the production and distribution of open-format, open-source remote field research in Antarctica and the Arctic. ITASC is a lichen-like structure sharing and integrating local knowledge, resources and skills across seven continents in order to symbiotically engage with the air, ocean, earth and space commons.’ In February 2009, Mulcaire, Ntsikelelo Ntshingila, and Pol Taylor installed ICEPAC (the ITASC Catabatic Experimental Platform for Antarctic Culture) at Vesleskarvet Nunatak in the Dronning Maud Land sector of Antarctica, the world’s first mobile polar research base to be powered entirely by solar and wind energy. Such projects illustrate Mulcaire’s interest in various forms of networks – spatial, human, technological, and cellular, as well as his concern with the way in which we inhabit and make use of the limited resources of our planet.
Mulcaire has exhibited at the Saõ Paulo, Sydney, and Ushuaia biennales. He has worked as an exhibitions co-coordinator (notably for the Johannesburg Biennale in 1995), an assistant curator at Documenta, founder and director of the ICA in Cape Town, as well as a curator for projects in Kassel, New York, Saõ Paulo, and Perth. In 2008 and 2009 he exhibited his work at the Goodman Gallery Johannesburg and Cape Town. This year he participates in Unwetter at the Akademie der Kunst in Berlin, CUE at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and Halakasha at the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg.
Robin Rhode was born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1971. He studied at Technikon Witwatersrand and the South African School of Film, Television and Dramatic Art. He now lives in Berlin. Rhode works primarily in low-tech mediums like chalk, charcoal, and paint, but also incorporates performance, photography, and film into his work. His ‘canvases’ are usually located in urban settings – walls, basketball courts, the street – and this element of his work signals his interest in drawing people into the work that he creates, and also in ‘street art’ with its incorporation of social concerns as well as its consideration of branding on the lives of ordinary people. Rhode often draws objects onto walls, and then interacts with these objects as they change shape. He creates a kind of animated film in which he is the central character and his imagination supplies the story and the antagonists. Rhode playfully interrogates the relationship between performer and spectator, and brings stories about life in the city into the rarefied space of the gallery.
Rhode had his first solo exhibition in New York in 2005. Since then he has had exhibitions in the US, Spain, Germany, France, Japan, the UK, and South Africa. His work is in many major collections, including the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of Modern Art, the Goetz Collection, and the Johannesburg Art Gallery. He has been artist-in-residence at a number of international institutions and won the Illy Prize at Art Brussels.
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.
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).