News Archive - April 2009 Wits Dramatic Art sends a new South African Play to the Czech Republic On the 1st of April Wits Dramatic Art premiered the new South African comedy Previously Owned at the SETKANI/ENCOUNTER 2009 Festival in Brno. A company of five students (four actors and a stage manager) and Wits lecturer, Greg Homann - writer and director of the play - spent an enriching six days sharing their work alongside other students from across Europe and The World. The Theatre Faculty JAMU in the Czech Republic officially selected Previously Owned for this international festival of student drama. This is the second time that Wits has been invited to attend and was the only school represented from the Southern Hemisphere. The Theatre Faculty of the Janacek Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno, Czech Republic, was the main organizer of the 19th International Festival of Theatre Schools, which took place from the 31th March till 4th April 2009. The festival provided a place where students, teachers and other theatre makers could meet to present and discuss their work and methods. Besides the main programme (three daily performances), there was also the off programme which was comprised of various presentations which correspond to the contemporary state of teaching and art education, as well as student discussions and teachers’ meetings. Previously Owned will now have a short season at The Wits Downstairs Theatre from 14th April to 25th April and in July will tour to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. Special Project on Internet Art - Joburg Art Fair 2009 3rd to 5th April at the Sandton Convention Centre and Online The Digital Arts Division in collaboration with the Upgrade! International Network have collaboratively curated a selection of Internet Artworks that will show at the 2009 Joburg Art Fair. The selection is being featured as a Special Project and will be presented at the fair on four beautiful new Apple iMacs as part of the bookstand area at the Joburg Art Fair. The selection can also be viewed at http://JAFnetart.digitalarts.wits.a c.za The selection explores and highlights Internet based creative practice in the global south. The featured Internet artworks cover a broad range of Internet Art genres by artists in the global south and works orientated towards its geography and politics. These Screen Grab from Gustavo Romano’s CyberZoo, Argentina, since genre include Software Art, 2003. Locative Media, Blogging and Remixing, Animation and Networked Social Commentary. The project was born out of an interest to uncover artists working with the Internet as a primary medium in South Africa. The selection however grew to encompass works from and about South America and Asia. The selection includes, to name a few, works that address issues in Nicaragua, India, Brazil and South Africa. There are nine South African artworks in the total of twenty four in the selection; these include works by artists; Marcus Neustetter, Avant Car Guard, Jaco Spies, Mitch Said, Aryan Kaganof Screen Grab from Mitch Said’s TreeID, South Africa, 2007. and Ismail Farouk. The selection was curated online as a network collaboration between Tegan Bristow of the Digital Arts Division of the Wits School of Arts and members of the Upgrade! International Network. Tegan Bristow is an artist and lecturer at the Digital Arts Division of the Wits School of Arts. She is one of a few South African academics and practitioners who specialise in interactive digital art. She is the organisational curator of this selection and teaches both theory and practice of digital interactive and digital networked media art. The Upgrade! International Network is a prominent network of digital artists and digital arts organisers. Started in New York in 1999 by new media artists Yael Kanarek, Mark Napier and Mark Rivers, the network now includes many prominent digital arts organisations and institutions, covering as many as thirty cities world wide. www.theupgrade.net Sermon on the Train A collaboration between Prof Anitra Nettleton, Molemo Moiloa, and Nare Mogotho How public are public lectures? Although periodically universities make the effort to host lectures that people who are not registered learners at these institutions can attend free of charge, one still feels that these so-called public lectures are not public enough. In this instance the “public” that accompanies “lecture” is taken to mean that for a short while, the institution will suspend its stranglehold over information, ideas and knowledge. Sermon on the Train seeks to undermine this concept of “public lecture” and makes the experience accessible to a wider audience by encouraging a well known academic to have a public lecture in public. Furthermore the work starts to chip away at the hierarchy that separates students from lectures by encouraging lecturer-student collaborations. Though one can argue that the idea of having a public lecture in public is an imposition on that public this nonetheless parallels other performative acts such as public preaching, a long standing practice on trains in South Africa. This then brings into question who has access to knowledge, the origins of that knowledge and what purpose that knowledge serves. On Location – C30 intervention David Andrew and Marcus Neustetter (Trinity Session) were invited to continue their C30 Project collaboration with an intervention in the White Sea exhibition space at the Konstfack University College of Arts, Craft and Design in Stockholm, Sweden, from 8 to 15 March. The intervention was a response to the central theme of the On Location conference and an extension of their interest in the relationships between contemporary art practice, pedagogy and socially engaged collaboration. The intervention was understood as a bringing together of some of the resources generated during the C30 Project at the P.J. Simelane Secondary School in Dobsonville, Soweto with those offered in the Konstfack, Stockholm context. In the process of producing the intervention over a period of six days, Andrew and Neustetter acknowledge the learners and teachers with whom they have worked and the value of taking oneself outside familiar contexts and frames of reference in order to sustain and grow emancipatory practices. The C30 Project initiative began in early 2007 at the P.J. Simelane Secondary School in Dobsonville, Soweto, and has resulted in a series of creative interventions within the school space itself, at the Sandton Civic Gallery, Johannesburg (October 2007) and the Goethe Institut, Johannesburg (October 2008). At the school and in the exhibition spaces the project introduced a series of physical and metaphorical disruptions which prompted questions and actions around the relationship between learning and art practice. Monique Pelser's Bystanders (2008) At the Johannesburg Art Fair Contemporary photographer Monique Pelser currently lectures fine art photography at the University of the Witwatersrand, School of Art. Pelser’s current area of research focuses on making photographs through the use of performance, experimentation and quotation as a means of grappling with the politics and history surrounding the photographic medium. Works currently on exhibition include The Angel of Compassion (2009) at the MutiGallery in Cape Town and Bystanders (2008) at the Durban Art Gallery and the Johannesburg Art Fair. Bystanders is a series of close-up portraits, taken with a Nokia 5200, that were re-appropriated from archival South African newspapers. These haunting yet lyrical images depict marginal bystanders instead of central characters involved in various historical days in South African history. The graphic images are put through a process of pushing photography towards a painterly quality while referencing the photographic medium through pixilation. Misc (Recovery Room) David Andrew Standard Bank Gallery 4 February – 21 March 2009 David Andrew’s exhibition, Misc (Recovery Room) at the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg, opened on 3 February and closed on 21 March 2008. The Misc in the title of the exhibition refers to the miscellaneous objects and moments experienced in the artist- teacher’s practice. And while the Recovery Room of the title suggests a hospital-like space of healing, in this instance it alludes to something that is to be retrieved, of ground that needs to be re-covered: more specifically in the ways in which classrooms (and other institutional spaces) might be understood as spaces of potentiality and possibility rather than being predetermined as regimented and orthodox. Underpinning each of the three separate but inter-related areas of the downstairs gallery is an interest in the reciprocal relationship between the practices of artist and teacher. There is also a conscious framing of the exhibition in terms of Félix Guattari’s question: “How can a class operate like a work of art?” As the viewer moves through the three spaces, Guattari’s question prompts various responses in relation to an often playful and improvisatory bringing together of notebooks, drawings, makeshift objects, photographs and installation. The Classroom (Recovery Room) installation in the central space, constructed through a combining of broken school chairs, dismantled desks, other classroom objects, drawings and cast shadows suggests both a physical and metaphorical response to this question. Music Staff in the Public Ear 2009 began with several Wits Music staff making prominent public appearances. Professor Malcolm Nay performed two different piano concertos in the space of several weeks: the Mendelssohn Piano Concerto and the Schumann Piano Concerto with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra. Head of Music, Grant Olwage, appeared on SABC 2’s Weekend Live to discuss his book Composing Apartheid. This followed an hour-long interview about the book on 702’s Jenny Crwys-Williams Show. And jazz guitarist Jonathan Crossley took his collaborative project Czech Mate on tour, performing half a dozen concerts over 10 days throughout South Africa.