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Twenty-one years after the announcement of the re-democratizing of South Africa, in February 1990, the artistic production of the country has not permitted that the much demanded end of apartheid would lead to a crisis of creation, as some critics had feared.
If South African art no longer is in the service of the struggle against the segregationist regime, it has sustained the dynamism of the artistic strategies by expanding its aesthetic, formal and operational models as of its massive internationalization and the fostering of domestic infrastructure. At the same time, the remaining socio-cultural contradictions and the repositioning, still underway, of distinct identities, have preserved the need for questioning that goes beyond the formal aspects of art.
With 11 official languages and comprised of different ethnic groups, including tribal societies, this young democracy is seeking to adjust itself to its plurality and to reduce the gaps that had been amplified by apartheid. For their part, the visual arts have confirmed themselves as a platform of fundamental reflection, by which a moving present, formed of times past and in constant evolution — is put into question.
In the midst of the multiplicity that is common in contemporary practice, as if responding to the indispensability to reorganize memories, revise concepts, reestablish paths and reconstitute uniqueness, the notion of (re)construction seems to be prevailing in the work processes and the thought systems of very different authors.
(Re)constructions: contemporary art in South Africa presents a selection of both internationally renowned and emerging young artists, whose artworks, developed in the post-apartheid period, sometimes seek to strengthen and other times to subvert socio-political and cultural representations, creating new space-time relationships. To a great extent, informed by collage, aesthetic and logic, and based on repetition — whether through appropriation and re-contextualization, through the accumulation or the use of series, of reenactments or montages, of embroidery and sewing, of assemblage or collage itself, of deconstructing to reconstruct — the artworks that are exhibited here, through the artistic gestures invested in them, do not only encourage us to inquire about their genesis but also signal themselves as reconstructions.
Dineo Seshee Bopape
Kagiso Pat Mautloa