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PERSONAL AFFECTS (article first published : 2004-06-12)

A collaboration between South African artists, curators and performers will take place at the Cathedral of St John the Divine and Museum for African Art in New York City. Ttitled Personal Affects: Power and Poetics in Contemporary South African Art The exhibitionwill run from September to December 2004.

A major visual art exhibition, it will showcase newly commissioned and recently produced works by 17 South African artists at two venues in New York City.

The exhibition is part of a larger South African initiative to "expose to New York the extraordinary creativity of the country", in the words of project champion Dick Enthoven of Spier. The aim is to challenge existing perceptions of South African art practice at this significant juncture: the celebration of 10 years of democracy.

Personal Affects features an extraordinary line-up of artists working in diverse media, including sculpture, drawing, photography, painting, installation, video, performance and dance.

A common thread throughout is the highly personal point of departure of their working methods - the use of the body, personal histories, and the construction of personal mythologies. Moving beyond the confines of identity politics towards subtler investigations of agency and affect, this exhibition looks at works of art as the powerful and poetic expressions that artists leave behind - from the ephemeral nature of performance art to more lasting material manifestations.

The exhibition will run in two venues concurrently, giving artists the opportunity to respond to the spectacular challenge posed by the contemplative spaces of the Cathedral as well as the white cube aesthetics of the Museum. The majority of artists are producing new work for both venues.

A major two-part catalogue will accompany the exhibition, and will foreground the process of the artists' engagement with the venues and institutions during site visits in February. Writers will include Okwui Enwezor, Tracy Murinik and Liese van der Watt.

Most of the selected artists are increasingly well known in South Africa but have received little previous exposure in New York. They are Jane Alexander, Wim Botha, Steven Cohen, Churchill Madikida, Thando Mama, Mustafa Maluka, Jay Pather, Johannes Phokela, Robin Rhode, Claudette Schreuders, Berni Searle, Doreen Southwood, Samson Mudzunga, Clive van den Berg, Minnette Vári, Diane Victor and Sandile Zulu.

A parallel performing arts programme will be staged at the Cathedral by Dimpho Di Kopane opera company, comprising a series of operas and a one-off concert in which the company will be joined by a number of Harlem choirs to perform the world premiere of King Leopold's Soliloquy, based on the original text by Mark Twain.

More information from Kurt Ackerman on 021 423 8304 or e-mail: kurt@imagineer.cc or Laurie Ann Farrell at the Museum for African Art in New York on 718 784 7700 ext 111 or e-mail: lafarrell@africanart.org




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