Curation, History and Re-Membering

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Presented by:

  • Gerard de Kamper (Curator UP Art & Ceramic Collections)
  • Bongi Dhlomo-Mautloa (Curator and Artist)
  • Christopher Till (Curatorial Director: Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria)
  • Pfunzo Sidogi (Lecturer: Department of Fine and Studio Arts, Tshwane University of Technology)

Moderated by:

  • Siseko Kumalo

The effacing of the Black artist is a historical reality that defines art institutions across the globe. The Black art practitioner working in indigenous mediums and styles is almost always framed not as an artist but rather as a craftsperson and a developer of functional objects that have limited artistic value. Wooden sculptures, in the lexicography of high art institutions, are closely intertwined with native cultural practices, an association that devalues their artistic properties. In this conversation we consider how this framing of the wooden sculpture as paradigmatic of ‘rurality’ plays into modes of delegitimating this artistic medium. More importantly, we think seriously about dislodging this discourse through surfacing the historical moves of delegitimation that always locate the African as the apprentice to the White artistic genius. This reframing is part of a wider and ongoing reclamation of the woodcarving art practice in South Africa, for the purposes of illustrating both its sophistication and creativity.