On the 23 of May 2016 I sat down with Taiwo Ohu against the background of his exhibition at the Pretoria Art Museum at that time. He spoke to me about his training, the challenges that face in the crises of lack of traditional art making material and his then upcoming exhibition which was meant to erect international good relations between South Africa and Nigeria.
The UNISA’s 2016 4th Year Exhibition
» An academic exhibition for fourth year students is an important milestone in the career of the art student. Simultaneously a fourth year art exhibition is a grand gesture from the institution itself to say to art patrons that this is our achievement over the past four years or so; This is the direction that art might take. Of course the ‘direction’ will solely rely on the art students themselves should they pursue their art practice further beyond academia because there is a vast difference between making art for marks and making art to say something within the annals of the fine arts fraternity mindful of commerce and socio-political environments. Even without care to these preoccupations for the artist to make art and contribute to human culture by continuously evolving the art object towards certain possibilities or ‘direction’, to retain the set tone above, it is a resounding milestone in their art practice «
26 September 2016 at 09:00, Pretoria Art Museum
• [Mmutle Arthur Kgokong: Good morning Nelmarie]/[Nelmarie Du Preez: Good morning Mmutle/[Mmutle AK: It might have been great to see you immediately after the opening of SASOL New Signatures but we know that it is a very busy time with regards to the press the following day and obviously you might be having some works that you need to go back to the following day and so on ]/[Nelmarie dP (Smiles, nods and chuckles)]/[Mmutle AK: yah congratulations on the exhibition, something very different…]/[Nelmarie Dp: Yes (chuckles)]/[Mmutle AK: from what we are used to uhm you are focusing on automation and other things I see
Uhm… automation mostly and how automation influences the way that we as humans communicate with each other and also how we extend our bodies via these machines that are automated or just you know programmed to enhance our daily lives and, so I am interested in what impact that has on our bodies but also on our relationships
Ohh,… it is very interesting that you talk about relationships between machines and human beings and you know I feel when I look at your uhm your artist statement I came across this word which maybe it’s a simple word •
The preoccupation with the surface area in art making is an integral part of art practice as much as the development of new media is. It is an area that we often don’t give attention to when we look at works of art, yet it is there. It is a pedestal unto which ideas are communicated to us. The ancient artists, the San Hunter Gatherers, understood this; for instance they would use the bulge of the inside of the cave’s surface to express the bump of an antelope in an attempt to mimic form∇
I spoke to Thato Seboko on Tuesday 12 April ahead of his solo exhibition opening at the Mellow House Factory in Tshwane, Hatfield. The artist was excited about his upcoming exhibition which will feature a new body of work comprising of 16 artworks. Presently he is working with a new media – hair dye, which is a non traditional art making material and can be looked upon as a new vehicle for artistic expression and thematic enunciation as far as new media is concerned. Since the artist retains a figurative approach in dealing with his subject matter something of fine art tradition is retained with regard to form but the accepted media of delivery is challenged and thus the boundary of art production process pushed further.
Auguries of Innocence
4 September at 09:40, Pretoria Art Museum
Mmutle Arthur Kgokong: I hope you are ok this morning
Elizabeth Balcomb: I’m good very good, yes, yes
Mmutle AK: You slept in Pretoria or in Johannesburg? (laughs)
Elizabeth B: No in Pretoria, geeze just up the road, very closed. I’m fresh
MAK: …yah well I am glad that you are…
EB: close, close
MAK: fresh, you know, after last night’s busy evening.
MAK: And thank you for agreeing to speak to me Elizabeth. Ehhm, I just want us to start right at the beginning. Where were you born, and you know, what was it like growing up where you were born?
EB: Alight, I was born in Westerneria, but ehhm when I was not even three months old my parents moved to Howick in KZN, ya, and then we moved to Pietermaritzburg after, …my father was a minister of a church, but this was during apartheid days, and he was part of the underground [movement] to overthrow the government and in his church he wanted black people to come…and and just start changing South Africa but [the church] elders kicked him out as a result and so we had to leave Howick and moved to Pietermaritzburg and he started lecturing Theology and so yah that was very part of my life was that experience, Yah…
MAK: So (interrupts)
EB: but, about, I wanted to be …no, I was told the moment I started drawing pictures that I was talented and I had always had that encouragement my whole life and when I was about eleven years old I saw a sculpture and I wanted to start sculpting from about that age
Location: Pretoria Art Museum, Tshwane, South Africa
Date: Tuesday 17 February 2015 at 09:00
Identity /Ideology Bamboozled
Mmutle. So would you say the idea of identity in terms of the content of the work started to take shape somewhere during this period, as you were exposed to the work of Spike Lee in comparison to the work of John Singleton?
Vusi. There was another artist, an English-Nigerian who used Elephant dung in his artworks. I forget his name. But like in identity, interrogating the idea of identity you know in the arts Spike Lee’s ‘Bamboozled’ sort of put at rest my anger towards the way blacks were excluded. You know that movie it made sense in a way that entertainment and such things were not something that was reserved for black people in a way. Entertainment wise it was mocking them. That was the entertainment industry and I just wanted to find a way for escaping or teaching [myself] or finding a way to express my anger through specifying that there is a difference between an artist and a black artist. They are two different things.
Mmutle. You mean the difference between a white artist…?
Vusi. No-no, the difference between an artist and a black artist. You know if you are black you are not an artist you are a ‘black artist’. So there is that thing…
[Mmutle. So you are not an artist pure – you are a black artist.]
Vusi. That’s what helped me to interrogate this thing. I have always saw myself as an artist…
Mmutle. And now this dichotomy of