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MALE ORDER (article first published : 2002-10-26)

The exhibition Male Order curated from the permanent collection of the Durban Art Gallery, opened in July at the Grahamstown Festival with two performance art pieces.

The first one was by well-known Durban actor, writer and director Greig Coetzee who wrote Avocado for the show. The piece raised a few eyebrows at the start with the blatantly racist language which the audience soon realised was a parody of the old style white South African male who is being threatened and feels insecure in the new South Africa. The piece ended with a despairing throwing-down of tins of sardines, jam and broken avocado pears.

Food, coincidentally, was an image used also by Peet Pienaar and Jaco Bouwer's performance where the hot dog crumpled underfoot and the glass of milk had Freudian undertones which were reinforced by the performance which went through the motions of dressing and undressing in restricted areas and ambiguous sexual references.

The performances were created especially to fit the theme of the show - that of masculine identity and the artists were chosen for their track record in working with this issue. A critic stated that the sins of the fathers ran like a thread through the show which documented manifestations of male power from Pierneef through to the present.

An impressive full-colour catalogue, a must for serious art lovers, accompanies the show.

Male Order remains on view at the Durban Art Gallery for the rest of the year.




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