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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

OUTPOST (article first published : 2000-10-3)

Just returned from the Association of Arts in Pretoria, the curated exhibition Outpost is coming home. This travelling exhibition which was put together by NSA curator Storm Janse van Rensburg and artist Virginia MacKenny is the first in a series initiated by the NSA Gallery to promote KZN contemporary art elsewhere in South Africa or beyond its borders.

KZN is sometimes affectionately, sometimes disparagingly, known as the “last outpost” of the British Empire. Its administrative capital, Pietermaritzburg, is still graced with statues of Queen Victoria and has a street named after her. It also has a gentlemen’s club which not only takes its name from Queen Victoria but adopted the Union Jack as its club flag so that it could be flown outside their front door.

In this exhibition the term “outpost” is used as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the legacy of KZN’s colonial past. At the same time, it touches on the more contemporary issue or a perceived isolation from other centres. Situated between Cape Town and Johannesburg, Durban should occupy a central position on a visitor’s journey. However, is often bypassed. Here, ironically, geographical centrality becomes practical peripherality.

Whilst by no means claiming full representation of the enormous range of contemporary art being produced in KZN, this exhibition attempts to dispel myths regarding contemporary practice in the province. A small, selected show it endeavours to reveal alternative approaches. It includes the work of Jeremy Wafer, Langa Magwa, Greg Streak, Lisa du Plessis, Kwezi Guhle, Michael McGarry, Seodin O’Sullivan, Clive Hardwick, Carol Ann-Gainer and Jaap Jacobs as well as that of the late Tito Zungu.

Outpost, which is an NSA Gallery project receiving funding from the KZN Arts and Culture Council, closes on October 12.




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