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NATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL: EXHIBITIONS (article first published : 2008-04-2)

A super-abundance of world-class performers and a record number of premičres are striking features of the Main Programme for the National Arts Festival which will take place in Grahamstown from June 26 to July 5 2008.

Art photography continues to blaze a trial through Grahamstown’s exhibition venues. Wonderland, by Standard Bank Young Artist award-winner Nontsikelelo “Lolo” Veleko, is an in-your-face collection of street-fashion images that raises questions about the construction of identity and disguise. Obie Oberholzer’s The Hotazel Years reinforces his unassailable position as a great colourist, with the playfulness of a true mensch. The combination of a maverick eye and immaculate technique is formidable. The art of the moment, photography freezes action, but can produce images with a timeless portent. This is part of the fascination of Frozen in Time, a major collection of dance photographs by nine important specialist photographers all based in Germany, presented courtesy of the Goethe Institute.

Time is the subscript for Decade, an extensive and engrossing selection from the SANLAM art archives. To mark the organisation’s 90th anniversary the selection has been drawn from acquisitions over the past ten years. Work ranges from a Frans Oerder (1896) to contemporary pieces by Ricky Dyaloyi and Gavin Young. Andrew Verster Past/Present is also predicated on time: the exhibition looks at this well-known art-maker’s production since 1994, including his engagement with opera costumes, fashion and jewellery designs. Carol Brown and the artist himself co-curate.

The medium is intrinsic to the message in Maureen de Jager’s meditation on the mutability of memory, in her exhibition In Sepia. Using faded family photographs, she creates a third level of meaning in the rust that emerges from her engravings on steel and white sculptures with fragments of metal bedded into them. The word is intrinsic to the message for the four Botswana-based artists participating in Lefoko, Igama, Dibu, Word. The works on show all incorporate texts, including Setswana and Xhosa poetry, and several of the pieces are textile-based.

Art from the Ground Up, this year’s Eastern Cape showcase exhibition, is a collection of work by recent graduates which was successfully shown in Lower Saxony, the part of Germany twinned with the province. More cultural production from the province is on display and for sale at the Eastern Cape Craft tent on the Village Green. Demonstrations will play a much greater role this year, encouraging interaction between craft-artists and the public.

The 34th anniversary of the National Arts Festival Grahamstown takes place from June 26 to July 5 2008. It is proudly supported by The Eastern Cape Government, Standard Bank, The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, SABC and The National Arts Council.

Further details are available in the free Festival Booking Kit, which will be available from selected Standard Bank branches and Computicket outlets nationwide from April 30. Booking opens on May 5. For further information contact 046 603 1103 or visit the website www.nationalartsfestival.co.za




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