[South-South] The Poetry In Between / 2015

Nuno Ramos / David Goldblatt / Thiago Martins de Melo / Sonia Gomes / Kendell Geers / William Kentridge / Turiya Magadlela / Kudzanai Chiurai / Rosângela Rennó / Jeremy Wafer / Ariel Reichman 20 January - 28 February 2015 Goodman Gallery, Cape Town

Goodman Gallery Cape Town
20 January – 28 February 2015



Exploring the connections and disconnections between Africa and South America from an artistic perspective is the subject of South-South – a new, ongoing initiative launching at Goodman Gallery Cape Town in January. The project borrows its title from Brazil’s foreign policy aimed at reinforcing integration between major powers of the developing world. Emerging from this contemporary environment of integration trends, South-South confronts the complex notion of a connected “geopolitical south” through contemporary art.

To kick-start this annual event Goodman Gallery invited curator Carolyn H. Drake for the first exhibition – The Poetry In Between: South-South. The show brings together a cross-section of intergenerational artists from southern Africa and Brazil. Through existing and newly commissioned works, the exhibition discusses the multifarious issues that connect these two regions within the discourse of the geopolitical south, by addressing universal questions through a southern lens. The point of departure of the exhibition is rooted in poetic manifestations as a way to understand the addressed issues as open ended and varied in meaning.

A core consideration within The Poetry In Between: South-South is to explore the elements that compose the intricate path of our existence – a topic that is more about condition than place, more about subtext than context. Artists reflect on poetic elements of the everyday, in which personal narratives feed into collective histories through utterances and gestures of otherwise unspoken, unrecorded moments, all originating in a global south. The Poetry In Between: South-South ultimately traverses the development of a supposed identity of the South that is being reconsidered within contemporary visual art. Or, in the words of art historian Felipe Scovino: “Brazil’s visual arts sees the postmodern subject not as something or someone whose identity is unified and stable, but rather as something fragmented and […] comprising multiple identities that may at times be contradictory or unresolved.” Cultural theorist, Kwame Anthony Appiah discerns a similar development in South Africa, namely that “the South African identity is a work in progress. Its meaning will repose in an archive that remains to be written.” While Africa and Brazil have a long history often centrally linked to slavery, more recently South Africa and Brazil have grown to share many other connections, as young democracies with a similar political and cultural ethos and a comparable economic and urban fabric. Inescapable factors that occur within these connections include overlapping extremes such as the combination of underdevelopment and overdevelopment within one economic system and the ever-present inequality between marginalised and well-off communities. If we look within the subtext of the clear contrasts and schizophrenic characteristics that mark these southern territories, we might find a new sense of what connects these places. It is the space in between the extremes that this exhibition aims to evoke.

Within this framework, artists from both countries reveal similar approaches. The works of Igshaan Adams, Nuno Ramos, Turiya Magadlela, Sonia Gomes, Haroon Gunn-Salie and Ariel Reichman transform domestic and everyday elements into poetic moments, evoking an existence that is both joined and separated. Others urge us to think about how to position ourselves within a larger urban context, such as Marcelo Cidade, Kendell Geers and Mikhael Subotzky. Moshekwa Langa and Paulo Nazareth employ found materials in order to rewrite collective histories of identity based on the personal experiences from their travels. Capturing or retelling histories that have either not been recorded – or in the minds of many do not exist – manifests in the work of Kudzanai Chiurai, Thiago Martins de Melo, Rosângela Rennó and David Goldblatt’s In Boksburg series. Having followed a slightly longer path, Ramos, Rennó and Goldblatt as well as two of the most renowned artists from either region, Cildo Meireles and William Kentridge, carry the weight of (art) history and yet remain fresh, timely and relevant in their work. They challenge existing systems and structures by creating new ones out of materials that are embedded with a multitude of meanings and references that are often cryptic and ambivalent yet resonant.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication that incorporates a catalogue of the show as well as a critical reader edited by Clare Butcher and Carolyn H. Drake, entitled A Heteronymous Reader. The reader is inspired by the poet Fernando Pessoa’s approach to writing, which he developed in South Africa and Portugal in the first half of the 20th century and will include short, existing and newly commissioned texts by artists, writers and poets. Specific texts in the reader are generously supported by the Goethe-Institut.



David Goldblatt

David Goldblatt (1930 – 2018) was born in Randfontein, a small mining town outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. He began exploring the medium of photography after matriculating in 1948 but only formally made photography his profession after his father died in 1962 and the family business, a mining concession store, was sold. In the years that followed, while Goldblatt supported his family through photography commissions and magazine work, he produced more than ten major photographic series, documenting the people, landscapes and structures of South Africa.

In 1989, Goldblatt founded the Market Photography Workshop, a training institution in Johannesburg, for aspiring photographers. In 1998 he was the first South African to have a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 2001, a retrospective of his work, David Goldblatt Fifty-One Years began a tour of galleries and museums. He was one of the few South African artists to exhibit at Documenta 11 (2002) and Documenta 12 (2007) in Kassel, Germany. He has held solo exhibitions at the Jewish Museum and the New Museum, both in New York. His work was included in the exhibition ILLUMInations at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011, and has featured on shows at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Barbican Centre in London. In 2017, Goldblatt installed a series of portraits from his photographic essay Ex-Offenders in former prisons in Birmingham and Manchester. The portraits depict men and women, from South African and the UK, at the scene of their crimes, with accompanying texts that relate the subjects’ stories in their words. In the last year of his life, two major retrospectives were opened at Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. The Goldblatt Archive is held by Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut.

Goldblatt is the recipient of the 2006 Hasselblad award, the 2009 Henri Cartier-Bresson Award, the 2013 ICP Infinity Award and in 2016, he was awarded the Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres by the Ministry of Culture of France.

Kendell Geers

South African-born, Belgian artist Kendell Geers changed his date of birth to May 1968 in order to give birth to himself as a work of art. Describing himself as an ‘AniMystikAKtivist’, Geers takes a syncretic approach to art that weaves together diverse Afro-European traditions, including animism, alchemy, mysticism, ritual and a socio-political activism laced with black humour, irony and cultural contradiction.

Geers’s work has been shown in numerous international group exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale (2007) and Documenta (2002). Major solo shows include Heart of Darkness at Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town (1993), Third World Disorder at Goodman Gallery Cape Town (2010) and more recently Songs of Innocence and of Experience at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg (2012). His exhibition Irrespektiv travelled to Newcastle, Ghent, Salamanca and Lyon between 2007 and 2009. Geers was included on Art Unlimited at Art 42 Basel in 2011. Work by Geers was included on Manifesta 9 in Genk, Limburg, Belgium and a major survey show of his work was exhibited at Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany in 2013. Earlier this year Geers held a solo exhibition, The Second Coming (Do What Thou Wilt), at Rua Red in Dublin.

William Kentridge

William Kentridge’s artist website can be visited here and Instagram account here

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.

Kudzanai Chiurai

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.

Jeremy Wafer

Jeremey Wafer (b. 1953, Durban, South Africa) grew up in Nkwalini in what was then Zululand. He studied fine art at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg (B.A.F.A.1979) and at the University of the Witwatersrand (B.A. Hons. in Art History 1980 and M.A. Fine Art 1987).

Wafer has taught in the Fine Art Departments of the former Technikon Natal (now DUT) and Technikon Witwatersrand (now UJ) before being appointed Associate Professor. Wafer received his PhD in 2016 and was subsequently appointed full professor of Sculpture in the School of Arts of the University of the Witwatersrand.

Wafer is the recipient of numerous awards and residencies, notably the Standard Bank National Drawing Prize in 1987 and the Sasol Wax Art Award in 2006. His work featured on the South African Pavilion of the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015. Wafer has exhibited in South Africa and internationally, his work is represented in the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC, the South African National Gallery, the Johannesburg Art Gallery as well as in many other museum, private and corporate collections.

Wafer lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.