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BERNIE SEARLE (article first published : 2003-11-13)

The travelling exhibition Float by Berni Searle, Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Arts 2003, is to open in the Durban Art Gallery on November 19.

Over the past few years, Cape Town based artist Berni Searle has become an increasingly noted and noteworthy entity within the South African and international art arenas. But this capacity for highly memorable imagery is not the full extent or the only engaging aspect of this important artistšs creative output and explorative domain. She engages actively with the possibilities of the diverse media she works with, and within a conceptual sphere that is intricately integrated.

Berni Searle came into the public eye in 1997 with an installation that formed part of a core exhibition at the 2nd Johannesburg Biennale, based at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town. The impact of her conscious engagement with the history of that space and, in what that seemed to infer, of her own placement within that history, became a catalyst for further questions and interrogation of how she defines and represents herself.

In 2000 she was a finalist for the FNB Vita Art Prize as well as the Daimler-Chrysler Award for South African Contemporary Art, the nominations for which were based on these works. She has also received awards internationally at the Cairo Biennale (1998) and the Dakar Biennale (2000), and works from these series currently form part of local and international collections, including the highly regarded BHP Billiton Collection, the South African National Gallery Permanent Collection and the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art amongst others.

In June 2001, Berni Searle was a participating artist in Authentic/Ex-centric, an exhibition at the 49th Venice Biennale. This extensively documented exhibition saw her work widely reviewed to notable acclaim. Since then, she has exhibited in the USA, Netherlands, Ireland, Germany and Spain, and has participated in residencies at Civitella Ranieri in Umbria, Italy and at the South African National Gallery in Cape Town.

Most recently, she worked on a commission for the University of Californiašs Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive which hosted her first solo museum show in the USA in February this year. She was also commissioned to produce a video installation for the NMAC Montenmedio Arte Contemporaneo in Vejer, Spain, which will be launched in July 2003.

The work Float, the Standard Bank Young Artist 2003 exhibition, includes these recent commissions as well as the video installations A Matter of Time and Home and Away and an earlier seminal video installation, Snow White (2001). The exhibition will also include related two dimensional works. An extensive 72 page full colour catalogue will accompany the exhibition.

Float runs in the Durban Art Gallery until January 18, 2004.




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