Archive for February, 2017





















17 or 19 black & pink aliens


Till dusk Sending 2 Mars by Michael Matthews



SAARTJIES DILEMMA or Natives on Display

As the Director of a non-commercial Art Gallery, the Saartjie Gallery, I am often forced to stop and contemplate the direction that the gallery is to take. I often ask myself questions like where the gallery is going or what is the focus of this Gallery or, for that matter, any Art Gallery in South Africa?

Certainly, comprehending the idea of a gallery in South Africa seems an easy task. It is a place, a building that displays Art, but the Art Gallery in South Africa is also a physical manifestation that has been left over as part of the legacy of colonial power. Alternatively, the gallery system is a system that closes the gap made by secularisation and the subsequent developments in Capitalism. It can also be a system of empowering the item, thus giving it meaning. The gallery in South Africa is possibly all these things and none of these things.

The problem is that the method of creating these categories of understanding forces misunderstanding and generalisations that move away from the real issues. The gallery becomes a place that tends to uphold trends of popular thinking, trends that are in vogue and so over-represented. If the Art Gallery represents the over-represented then it is also a system that makes the represented accessible and popular. In South Africa the Art galleries follow a line of collecting and exhibiting that can only be called ‘main-stream’. The education systems that offer the study of art reinforce the concepts of ‘high culture’ of Western thinking. Thus, the concept of Art as a re-assertion of Western ways of thinking becomes the Art Gallery’s central meaning. The gallery is a system and physical manifestation that perpetuates the notion of the ‘derivative object’ that in turn has helped to create objects of ‘otherness’.

Thus, the present-ed objects in South African Art galleries are mastered by the dominant culture. The dominantculture has infiltrated all objects with appropriation, objects infiltrated by concepts of ‘unotherness’, but also objects rooted in otherness. The parent and the child concepts appear to be divorced in what has become a happy post-marital settlement. In other words, Art Galleries in South Africa are rooted in the concept of ‘other-ness’, the origin of otherness, as an awareness of the other has negated an innocence that has made the other another and rendered it ‘othered’ – or meaningless. The quest to regain the innocence-lost in the ever-smaller divisions of seeing the ‘other’ is the task of the Gallery. It should involve the unmaking or un-dividing of units of otherness, in other words, un-othering – becoming natives.

Recently I went to a conference on Gallery Policies – ‘Collection trends in South Africa’, and I asked the natives “if it was a sin to exhibit”, and the mommy said: “I only saw the building as a reflection”.

Gently, I placed my finger on an item and asked the price.

Afterwards I said, “I TRIED NOT TO”.


You (We [I]) have finally Killed SAARTJIE                                                                                                    Saartjie Baartman’s epitaph entitled ‘ARTGREETINGS’

So it seems as if You (We [I]) have finally Killed SAARTJIE, or, is it the Memory of Those Who are or Have been exploited in one way or another that we have killed. I mean Saartjie Baartmann is a National (BAN) Heroine.

Isn’t She? No! We didn’t know her. And yes! She was the ‘Other’. And No! We can’t really talk about Her and What ‘They’ did with any sense of truth. We just can’t talk about It.

For Us (SAARTjie’s) she represents those Who Were and Will (WWW’s) be exploited by the Alpha Ape type of any Sex, Race or Culture (sorry about the Alpha thing but try and see the *.SRC[1] programme connection – really we respect these Type Organisations – the programmes[2] I mean).

So, as I was saying: Hi Saartjies! (post-sic) you know the a sort of ‘Hail Fellow’ from the Advantaged Suppressed Section of Society (the ASS’S – you are One if you have an E-mail Address) and all that. The Greeting Thing from the Now Enlightened . . . (inter NET’s).

Wow! From the ‘Rightist Group’ (they absconded from the left-in South African’s in 1994 and claimed ignorance) We get this Growing resentment Buzz and Echo of rehashed ‘psycho-prophecies’. Here’s a Tit Bit from just one (we could of chosen from thousands(ed.)) of our ‘Rightists’ or should I say more ‘Loyal ‘ist’ readers of this Book – ‘Saartjie’ (only recently Claiming to be Enlightened): “I am not your Saartjie (sic); . . . please don’t bore me again”. I mean why not call out the !!!Vyrus’s!!![3] and (in-one-breath) the ‘Mag Nie Sê’[4] [without the ‘kappie’[5]. They were banned Even Then (ET’s) and I believe they are Still Active Now (SAN’s), though underground (ed.)].

Saartjie may be a perversity to the ‘Post-colonial’, but ‘We’ are Human regardless of Our Sex, Race our Culture. If We see Saartjie as a Heroine, don’t We have the Right to claim a part of that lost heritage (*). Yes! We are being exploited and We are Exhibits, We haven’t Left South Africa yet. And yes, We Do want to be Seen in the Context of our Past and Present (PP’s). Yes! We do want to Acknowledge the Present (WAP’s). Hey! this is Why We Wanted (WWW) to be involved in this Beyond Language Thing, this Art Speak Thing (BLAST).

OK! Therefore, ‘ArtGreeting’s’ is Safe-As-Houses. I mean Mostly Artists Today (MAT’s) are involved in the Safe Thing. Move a pawn here and there (please refer to our stable – Hacked In Message (please ignore all underlined sentences in this message as hackers are using our System as an avenue for Unsavoury Content (SUC) [Systems Administrator]). They play at been as provocative as a Copy of a Copy-of-a-position-of-an-exhibition-of-dead-bodies (CC’s). A Copy of our friends and fore-fathers Clean Breath-taking moves (BCC’s), a Copy of the Right Stuff (Damn! [possibly no reference to the past]) – and as Euro-Anal Tentative Thoroughfare’s (ATT’s).

So, Art here is as full of Steroids as it was of Alcohol (SA’s) in the States (OFS) – (long one (ed.)) in the 40’s. All Balls (not only sport or was that Bull (sounded like a Rooster back then (ed.)) now we only see the squeak of PW (POOR WORDED) supporter clowns  ;-).


This epitaph was written subsequent to the launch of the first issue of Saartjie the e-zine. After the commencement, there were a number of concerns raised by subscribers about the idea of starting each volume with “Hi Saartjies”. A number of subscribers felt that they were not Saartjie’s. The criticism mainly came from male subscribers and those subscribers that had been ‘forced’ or ‘pushed’ onto the programme. By ‘forced’ or ‘pushed’ onto the programme means, that subscribers were at times added in a random method pending on whether  they could be hacked out of unspecified art galleries databases.

In the early days of the internet, this was a matter of course as the sharing of information was the end – not the violation of privacy. Information was to be shared by all – ‘a true Democracy’.  Saartjie, the e-zine, never had a ‘forced’ or ‘push(ed)’ (as the industry knows it) subscriber unsubscribe.

Anyway, this dialogue between the subscribers and ‘Saartjie’ opened a door to a political debate between White South Africans and their recent past, a past of apartheid legislation and the new electronic means of communication, that seemed to echo the issues inherent in the new Democracy of Black majority leadership.

This introduction of a subject that weighed heavily on White South Africans and their guilt complexes seemed to spark a re-division of intellectual responses.

The article was written in a new type of email cum internet speak. The meanings of which were contained within the foreshortened alliterations of an email or internet newsgroup type speak. The meanings of these alliterations were not largely understood by the majority of email or internet users in South Africa. Not many email users knew what ‘BC’ or ‘BBC’ stood for, never mind how to use them.

The aim of this epitaph intends to edify a position that resembled that of being misunderstood and the consequent effect of non-communication between different cultures and/or language groups. Language and culture played a major role in the final exploitation of Saartjie Baartman, equally these issues played a major role in ‘Saartjie’ the publication. Saartjie Baartman was the study case, but the vision needed to be treated on a broader and more contemporary level as these prejudices still affect our lives.

[1] In South Africa there is a Scientific Research Council (SRC) that contributes funding to projects that it deems fit as deserving funding for further research. This council aided many academic pursuits in South Africa but through its research criteria it also left many significant research projects as unworthy for further pursuit.

[2] There is no programme extension for *.SRC. The closest extension to *.SRC is *.SCR that refers to a Microsoft Window type extension for a Screen Saver. In the text, if this reading is acceptable, the meaning of *.SRC is subtly altered to ‘Sex, Culture and Race’ or ‘Scientific Council of Research’. Originally, the Screen Savers function was meant to protect the Screen but this has latently become a redundancy. In the technological world, the emailing of Screen Savers is something to be weary of as they may contain a virus. The Big Brother complex is hidden within statement.

[3] The word ‘virus’ is becoming a thing of the past in electronic communication, if the word is used in a bulk email the email is block – not received by the recipient. New ways of reconstructing the concept is necessary in order to express the concept. One wayof expressing the concept is to use a symbolical expression of the word through a mis-spelling or grammatical metaphor.

[4] This secret force, which operated within the confines of the South African Defence Force in the 1980s. I always saw this force as a Six force. A force that operated above and beyond the confines of Governmental control. In 1987, during my conscription military period I used the name of this unsaid force to gain access to the bodies of the SWAPO forces dead bodies that were killed in action. I drew or caste many of these bodies in concrete or on mapping paper.

[5] A ‘kappie’ is an Afrikaans term for a small hilltop and an accentuation of a vowel – ‘^’.