Archive for the 'Art Criticism' Category


Digital Art and dumb things: The new f/norm of artistic expression.

Digital art comes in many different forms – from video, the most ‘accessible’ recent-tradition, to the inaccessible interactive (CD-ROM) and post-reactive works (virus and artificial intelligence works). The tradition-video digital art form has opened unexplored paths of expression that were not available to pre-twentieth and mid-twentieth century artists.

For the last seven centuries artists were limited to the invention of a form of expression that had been invented by the [pre-Nazi’s(?)] and beyond. These forms of expression were tied to oil painting, sculpture and printmaking and the genres they created for future generations. These manifestations of idea were seen as the most durable form of expression and the high end of art as John Berger in his mono Marxist book and television series “The Ways of Seeing” clearly celebrated.

Digital art is a “new/old” media. Digital art is a post mid-twentieth century media that has lead to a revolution in the visual arts. Not only has it freed the artist from the constraints of historical predetermined forms of expression and the constrictions of art history, but also, it is a contemporary way of viewing a transitory world. Digital art is an art form that is questioning the dubious historic artistic approaches of contemporary thought by questioning the path it has/is following – a form of expression that is mass orientated and that relies more on technology than ever before.

High tech works of the eightieth and ninetieth century relied on the craftsmanship and skills of a plethy of craftsman and years of training. The digital artworks of the present have reintroduced the artist to the direct creation of the artwork from the prior source to the regurgitated idea. The artist is now in charge of the processes that the ‘technician’ had occupied for so long. And yet, the digital artwork in its final form is more costly and maintenance reliable than the traditional art forms. The traditional art forms of expression and their maintenance have been catered for; we know how to and are now prepared to maintain them. The new media works are in a realm of ‘no-where land’. This doesn’t mean that all digital artworks are or are not maintenance burdens, but rather that because these art forms are more open to the masses a new euphorically attitude is given them. A frightening thought if you hold on to tradition.

What this means is that although the new media art works are difficult to maintain for the artist the creation of the digital artwork is not so costly – the cost is shifted to the viewer. Like music (pop specifically) and its production for the mass culture the cost of the auditory/viewing apparatus is high, the artwork is the assimilation of the concept and the cost of the expression. In new

media works this cost, of the hardware for the artwork, can be astronomical; and at the same time the artwork is always contained in the form of the means of its expression. Unlike music the new media artists usually demand their own viewing apparatus, each designed specifically for each work. This may be a rollOver mindset but the effect is that the cost is elevated and the expectation on the collector unrealistic.

In the past artworks were sold according to square meterage (foot) in the future artworks may be sold in conceptual values (pixels) over a set durational period.

Virtual Art as a Way Backward (Part 2)
Many digital theorists believe the painted image and its days of solitary rule in the realm of isolated images are numbered. Digital Art promises to offer a way of exploding the meaning of the image in a new way. This is the result of the possibilities that digital art offers in it establishment of a fairly new way of viewing images through a ‘hyper-image’ process.

The term ‘hyper-image’ is a term that I have derived from the word ‘hypertext’. Theodor H. Nelson coined the word ‘hypertext’ in 1965 as a word that is a conjunction of ‘text’ and the Old Greek ‘uper’ (hyper) meaning ‘over, above, beyond, besides’. By ‘hypertext,’” Nelson means a “non-sequential writing…text that branches and allows choices to the reader, best read at an interactive screen.”. Nelson was also the generator of another term which fits into the idea of “hyper-imaging”, that of ‘hyper-media’, a term “which implies linking and navigation through material stored in many media: text, graphics, sound, music, video, etc”. – a system of conceptualising that contains both symbolic and iconic signs and also streaming media.

The hyper-image is often the digital artists central device, similar to those utilised by installation and performance art that allows the artist to involve the viewer in the creative act. Hyper-imaging is a non-sequential visual conceptualising with free user movement along links – the electronification of visual connections.   It offers the artist opportunity to transcend the restrictions of the traditional visual forms. A hyper-image, like a collage, is the result of images cut-out of contexts and reconstructed into convenient sizes and juxtaposed to generate layered meanings. The difference to conventional collages is that hyper-imaging does not simply dissolve into a disordered bundle of images; the author defines its structure by establishing electronic connections among the images. Hyper-imaging is a convergence of contemporary critical theory and technology.

Many computer artists, however, approach hyper-imaging as an information-delivering medium, placing the emphasis on its capacity to store and retrieve large amounts of information.  They have tended to see hyper-imaging like a database type device, rather than a matrix. Fortunately, the emphasis by these artists is not so much on the storage capacities itself, but on the associative linking between the different units of information.

Virtual thinking solutions, and its translation into visual art, should be the desire by the artist for the natural sign to gain extended meanings. Hyper-image thinking is often the desire to complicate the relationship between signs and what they stand for.  It makes demands on the viewer, but not so much on the artist. Those artists who use hyper-imaging as a purposeful tool assume that it is a new communication model that permits the artist to transmit larger amounts of knowledge with less effort. Unfortunately, at times the co-operation between the artist and the viewer may not always be that of two collaborating artists, but more of that between a game designer and a player.

Viewers are able to fabricate their own structures, sequences, and meanings. It can be seen as a non-linear structure as it is a non-sequential palimpsest approach to visual information. At its worst hyper-imaging is a fragmented structure of which the different blocks are linked by connections that merely carry the viewer from one node to another. Non-linear structures should be structured on a different level, by more complicated devices, like variables and procedures, which allow the parts of the narrative to exchange knowledge and information.

A multimedia artwork (e.g. CD-ROM) can also be seen as incorporating Moulthrop’s idea of a Multiple User Dimension (MUD). Moulthrop describes a MUD as a “creation (that) grow(s) out of the old Adventure game: they are virtual spaces constructed within computer memory, having the same metaphoric spatiality as hyper-images. MUD users move through the space by issuing commands. They may also manipulate objects and (most importantly) conduct transactions with other users”.

This introduces a certain amount of randomness to the art experience. Phelps describes the use of random elements in digital media as “frequently used to introduce a range of secondary characters or challenges within particular sections … Which of these characters or challenges, as well as when and where they will be introduced, is left to the computer to randomly select”. He goes on to define two types of randomness: cascading and shuffle. The tree like branching approach verses the multi-linear approach.

Either way, the viewer is the controller and operator of the content. This makes the viewer a quasi artist and at the same time allows for the content to be altered as the viewers experience develops and as extraneous knowledge is gathered. The artwork is under continuous structures of change. The artworks meaning is relational to the viewers understanding of current symbols and signs that are manipulated in content of an ever changing present. It’s a way backwards to viewing perceptual input in a world of visual overload; where a two-dimensional understanding of content and context is force outwards.


True confessions of an Albino curator…

It was back in the 1980s that we started our sleep ritual. The thing was to prepare our selves for history.

That was in the beginning, and then a perverted needless greed stepped in.

The first step in the sleep ritual: find yourself an underprivileged African artist who has had little or no contact with Western civilisation.

At first it was exciting to go out and find a new artist. A new artist was one that was underprivileged and African. We were the first to go out and find artists and a content that was ‘real’. The ‘real’ being disadvantaged artists who were working in conditions that were culturally different to those of the Eurocentric. This may sound a bit like a retro idea, the old 19-century re-exploitation of the exotic, and the re-introduction of the exotic, the condescending glance of the colonisers revisited. We didn’t feel like those Palaeolithic recorders. What we were doing was exposing the ‘others’, in a truly deconstructivist sense.

It started like that; and has always remained so but in retrospect it has seemed as if we manipulated the situation. The concentric focus on the ‘otherness’ of the ‘other’, although predated, is the effect rather than the focus.

The plot was timely with the world focus on sanctions. Our artists could not see beyond the barriers of apartheid logic. The country was frozen into a concentric convolution that perpetrated a re-mastering of the 60s ethos. The artists in the 1980s were, or seemed, unaware of the universal message. The best they could do was to re-image Eurocentric motifs from the 1930s – Duchamp, conceptualism and the rest.

The second step in the sleep ritual: sell the objects as contemporary and radical.

So we went into the rural areas and found artists that had had no contact with ‘Art’ and the Western world. I mean the potential was fantastic for making money. This was truly African; this was the dreams realised that Battiss and Skotnes had had. A content that was as Esme always claimed was the dream of Africa, the result of the “Search for Africa”.

Of cause the European market lapped this up. I know of curators who were purchasing rural black artist’s works with the aim of International sales. I mean this is not unique, we’ve seen it in Australia. No, the exploitation was not queer. The searching for marketable items was not queer.

It was good for South African art. The world needed something from the colonies. There was a feeling amongst post-colonisers that the colonies owed them. And amongst the unfortunate non-colonisers there was a sense that they needed to be exposed to the world, that they had something to contribute.

The third step in the sleep ritual: make everyone involved feel as if they are unique.

The handshake was great. We the colonised had something to offer. We the exploited were going to show the world. And the best thing about this exchange was that what we had to offer was truly our own. What we had to offer was an exotic, an exotic that reeked of 19 century Victorian idealism and of Germanic exploitationism. What we had was the curio.

Then it was all past. What had taken a century to arrive at as non-regard happened? The artists that were truly African. Those artists, those African artists, which were the cutting edge – which we chose to represent as our edge. They continued to make the nebulous images that they were initially selected for over and over again. [As if history does not move on]. They could/would only repeat the result of the last sold item as if the item was significant in itself and the production was a re-occurrence of the sale.

The fourth step in the sleep ritual: re-educate the natives into making high art.

So we began to educate the artists that we were manipulating.

We/I knew that the country was politically charged so we made requests on the artists. I mean I would not accept any work that did not engage the political climate. This was a necessity. I mean no one would consider anything different. The climate was political; we were faced with apartheid and the new order. The new order was trying to establish itself. So we/I requested political figures and policemen things that were contemporary.

The artists were so gullible; they were locked into a sense of reality that could be easily manipulated. No I didn’t feel like an early 18th century ringmaster.

I was just trying to…

Post Script: At this point the sleep ritual has taken effect. The author has fallen asleep. Tomorrow the sleep ritual will be re-enacted.


THE BUSINESS OF ART – from manuals; text-books to fiction.

I walked into the inter-view room and met the curator. She was in her mid-thirties and had the smile of ‘purpose’ (a Tesiche one) and breasts of a 13-year-old Ms. Hohlenrauch. She asked me plea-SA(i)ntly what I had to show her.

This was a place that I had made love in/to. I felt familiar, not unlike the effect the curator was attempting to achieve with their special lighting effects and stark interior. No I wouldn’t feel like some neo-Rosenberg sycophant in an isolated transept (the Rosenberg theory and their activities are beyond the scope of this article), this was a viewing of my work, a private viewing, to decide on the possibilities of an exhibition in this sometimes benign place.

Seated on the inter-room uni-chair we viewed an E-elaborate video on the possibilities of birth, while she gazed at the inter-mediate door. Later, I was to learn that it was ‘this door’ that inspired most of her decisions. It was also through her ‘keen-Ness’ to open this door that this door failed to provide her with the future prospects of a renowned career (although, co-incidentally, this article was to contribute significantly to the demise of her future prospects and the Jag(uar) became a self satisfied but improvised huntress of a crumbling beauty). We sat in silence for a full fifteen minutes while the proposal wound-down and then I left while the ‘Keen’ curator bid me fair well.

I was just another SFA in the business of art.

The SFA is the self-financing artist. These are the artists who finance their own creativity. From the original idea, to the execution and to the final display, the SFA is not unlike the science fiction author, they think about the future. I was one of these; I was looking for some form of life in this colonial ‘labyrinth’. This search for form was before I was shown the realities of colonial existence only commonly experienced by the un-initiate. The SFA is one that believes in the future far enough to then go about doing something about it. They support our own art and attempt to get it exhibited as often as possible, anywhere and anyhow.

My first impression of the artist was that she was over dressed and seemed like some retro-exist-entialist from the pre-colonial world. I don’t judge people by what they look like but this was too much. I couldn’t take her into the main office so I invited her to sit in one of the

galleries and quietly view what she had to offer. Then she rips out this damn video and I just knew that someone would walk in on us; was this the artwork? Or was I watching some cheap attempt at a publicity stunt, I hoped it wasn’t too long. Fortunately, she left quietly and no one had bothered us. I was free to get on with my real work. A large cup of coffee was what I needed.

The SFA wants to bring art to the people, even those who couldn’t care less about it. The curator’s job is to reassure the SFA. To reassure them that their art is favourable and the quality of there work high. But, the curator has a plan; they obviously can’t afford to exhibit it as no sales are guaranteed. So they assure the SFA:  “What can they do? The work is ahead of its time and may not sell now so…” The solution is that the SFA supports the financial outlay of the exhibition. The curator presents it as the usual way things are done.

A pre-prepared contract is materialised. The SFA, “lost in a dream of glory”, would sign and not notice the clause that specified a minimum charge for the opening, printing of invitations, the catering, the rental of space, the curator’s commission of 60% on any sales and that the gallery kept all rights to the artworks for a specified period for time.

The SFA would agree and sign not realising the injustices of it all. The exhibition opening would be ‘lavish’, but the gallery would send out few invitations and the opening crowd would be made up largely of the artist’s associates. The sales of works would be unusually low and the artist after a period of time would be required to quickly remove the unsold works or be faced with an added storage cost.

The above extract is from a larger text based on biographical-fictional events that have an echo of truth. Any reference to actual living persons or organisations, past or present, may be intentional but more than likely is only accidental and the author cannot take full responsibility for the reader’s personal conclusions.


From manuals, textbooks to fiction – Gallery Commodities.

Saartjie entered. Looked up at the ceiling and glanced around for the drinks table. There was tension in the air, and I waited for the crowd to circulate some more. The gallery wasn’t far and I was glade *** had brought me along.

“Modern art has traditionally obscured the distinctions between the beautiful and the ugly, but rarely so systematically as now has it blurred the categories of good and bad, the indifferent and the committed.” Max Kosloff 1961.

I didn’t care much for the artworks though. I had seen this sort of stuff before. In the eighties or nineties. The works were very boring, ‘drawings’ of ‘casuistic’ toys, works in black and Grays with a little natural ‘gel’ colour, very internationalised images that could have been made anywhere in the world by your average art student or toy maker. They bore titles like Madonna, Chair, and the likes.  A video-piece with a popular classical tune appropriated, like dead meat hanging from a meat hook, was the focal point.

As soon as I entered the gallery, I saw that the works were figurative and voted a certain abstractness. Texts were quoted from magazines, phone books or government documents. The documents were often drawn or illustrated over. The largest object referred to a collage of recent and fantastic events. The juxtaposition was dubious, and seen up close, the execution proved crude but at a distance and with it the effect was possibly lyrical.

There was a crowd; the gallery was trying to look like a post-car sales room, all white, with dividing walls and stands hidden in alternative corners. The cost to achieve this effect must have been staggering. In one corner, a sound system supplied a piped deafening noise. Everyone walked absently past the artworks to crowd around the table and grab the stem of the tuberous wine or sherry that was on offer.

The air was smoke-free and effluent-ting a slightly material odour. Everyone was converting, busy consuming the snacks. I stood in the middle and observed how the ‘wine’ glasses began to stack up on any of the surfaces that was at hand. This was not surprising as the floor was also splattered with staggering guests. And the one man said, “How are you?” then the cat said, “I’m fine.” “Go home”, said the pig.

These are people who make it their business to expose their sensibilities in the context of “the important art of their time”. This has resulted in the curator’s selection as standing in itself as a critique and furthering of similar projects and exhibitions.

The consequence of the prevalent mediocrity is possibly that curators are consumer providers not intellectuals or artists. Yet, they, in a small way are the artists of the future, as many artists have realised. The curator is the ultimate Post-Modernist. But, modern curators still tend to follow a particular approach, to the exclusion of other approaches. This tendency can be described as ‘Curatorial Preferencing’.

Recently, however, sporadic attempts have been made to find points of agreement in the various apparently mutually exclusive approaches. These attempts can be said to be aimed at developing ‘meta-approaches’, i.e. “comprehensive, global approaches that assimilate and integrate different, separate approaches which by themselves are very limited”.

The methodological approach is the accumulation and interpretation of information characterised by the use of empirical methods. The professional and specialised approach looks for the development of certain trends and tends to develop a thematic approach – a particular ‘subject’ within a particular ‘branch’ within a particular ‘trend’. This often results in a dogmatic point of view; a view narrowed that asks limited questions. The eclectic approach tends to select from various approaches, trends and theories which the curator finds personally valuable – possibly an easy way out when the curator is faced with many contradictory trends and theories.

The biggest problem is that no real synthesis is achieved and contradictions are not eliminated. The last approach is a kind of interdisciplinary awareness. Where the curator finds other fields of agreement in philosophy, science, history, literature, politics, etc. The mutual borrowing of applications, concepts, ideas and theories promotes a fruitful co-operation. But is this co-operation necessary?

And is it effective?

The curator provides the consumer with the tools to hide when confronted with content by changing context. The curator uses the art forms available as a tool ‘to’ gain, but is it a gain of self-knowledge or commercial accomplishment. The result is to make selections of works on the profile of the artist regardless of the work. The issue is conveyer belt manageability. The bottom line credibility of the curator is a business background rather than that of humanistic.

“Much of the structure seeks to impress and convince by the intricacy of its didactic structure”.

Few people remained motionless; the crowd was intent on a kind of spiral movement, like vultures searching for the kill. Though not looking for anything in particular, I moved into the vortex.

At a certain point I felt trapped, as if I had lost my presence and felt as if I was in a Mall looking at the brilliant commodities that were on offer. Seeing; but not seeing, experiencing; but looking for something else.

Then the predator pooped…


De-Definitions in a de-apartheid Society: Commodity Space.

“In a decaying society, art, if it is truthful, must also reflect decay. And unless it wants to break faith with its social function, art must show the world as changeable”. Ernst Fisher.

The building, the commercial art gallery, is on the corner of a popular street in the upmarket ‘bohemian’ part of town. The appearance is of a ‘modern structure’ re-designed in an adapted post-modernist way. Research leads me to believe that this was once, before the face lift, before being annexed,, a car sales building for elite models. All this has changed; the building is now home to one of the most active and contemporary commercial art galleries in South Africa.

Once inside one observes that the inner space has been adapted in a modernist way to the turn-over of a new commodity, the sales of Art. The owners have seen fit to re-divide the large floor space into various room sizes to facilitate the maximum wall space in relation to light and area available. The aim being to present an adaptable space that will suit the needs of the variety of demands that artist will make on this place.

The space can handle traditional and multimedia works. While the patrons can meander through the space without being disturbed by sweaty curators or sales personnel. The art works are presented in the modernist genre; each work is presented on a neutral surface with enough space so as not to intrude on the next work, while the lighting is focused to enhance the works and at the same time create an almost religious, or spiritual, ambience.

This is the typical commercial art gallery. The artists selected need to produce something saleable. Something that the desperate collector can invest in. The exchange is one of money for item and is thinly disguised. All artists are hand chosen and presented as ‘good investments’ due to past victories or more popular beliefs.

The artists are presented as the continuity that lies between South African and International Modernism. Since 1995 a new art has begun to flourish in South Africa through a powerful impetus of the myth of the African Renaissance artist. An art that has begun to look outwards to Europe and America and an exploration of past atrocities. This has resulted in recognition of a collective memory, a memory with deduced resources of consciousness.

This submergence of the artist’s experience has been taken up by the contemporary commercial galleries as offering a package that is a sound investment for investors in the near future. The commercial gallery in South Africa today may find it hard to distinguish between history and art history. A history that includes the atrocities of apartheid and the de-identity of a de-nation. Their stance has been one of de-tachment, and a focus on popular trends. As Malraux has pointed out, its the galleries obligation to “compile and reflect the record of human freedom and creativeness”. But, this ‘barrier’ is not reflected in the commercial world. As Ted Leonsis a prominent new media marketer says: “I only care about what our members and consumers say”.

The gallery is partly responsible for the de-intellectualisation of art and the dead-end of of a dynamic vanguard. ‘They’ offer hero’s of mass-media and technological innovation a place to show their goodies. As Harold Rosenberg points out the gallery is “aware of itself as a medium of mass education in novelty”, it presents works art as news, “laying claim to the relevance to the contemporary”. Artists are made or broken on the mediocrity rack of consumerability.

Galleries are looking for content, because they think everyone wants content. But this is not true. Most of what is described as content is really decoration. But what they fail to see is that people really lust after context. They want the raw data to be filtered through ‘human consciousness’. The artists consciousness of imagination or analysis delivered in a way that is entertaining and hence possibly valuable in another way

The dilemma of the gallery is that it bases, its aesthetic, stands and falls on ‘the’ popularity principle. Making the arts into a decorative media ignoring the values and beliefs that inspired the works in the first place. The result is the mass consumerism of a mass consumable culture.

This is surely a place not to ‘make’ love in.


De-hidden apartheid art?

This as a gift to the community? It’s so beautiful it’s hard to see hidden behind the beatific Gold Reef City. Once found, it sits in its cocoon like a post-industrial derelict – waiting for… the next era. Waiting for closure! This museum cannot be treated as a museum; it’s an artwork that is so beautiful it’s hard to see.
“The Museum has been assembled and organised by a multi-disciplinary team of curators, film-makers, historians and designers. An architectural consortium comprising several leading architectural firms, conceptualised the design of the museum on a seven-hectare site. The museum is a superb example of design, space and landscape offering the international community a unique South African experience”.

It forces the question of “what is art?” Art in the sense of state art! Art in terms of – where and who supports this art? This is a museum, and yet, its presentation is as shocking as a ‘confiscated’ installation. So why is the state supporting art like this and more specifically this work?

The answers are an axiom of the state of art and democracy. The work supports the dictum for the state. This is the slick art of the post-modern academy. The artwork re-invented into the machinery of the state.

The message of this artwork is of hope and survival, of reconciliation and the Hollywood dream of happiness ever after – the message of re-inventing ourselves as part of the aftermath of “bumpy thing”.

Nothing or almost nothing in the museum, artwork, is real all are simulacra. The viewer views the past through the recording devises of the past and is given no opportunity to evaluate this process. The past has been re-invented in terms of the prosthetic devices of the past. Hence, we, the viewer are merely a prosthetic revived for future understanding that doesn’t exist outside of the simulacra.

“Much of what follows inside is conventional but grimly absorbing, as giant murals, texts and old television footage chart the decades of repression and violence. It’s all there in exhaustive (and exhausting) detail from the election of the National Party in 1948, through the Sharpeville massacre and Biko’s murder, to Mandela’s ultimate victory in the first free elections eight years ago. And just when you think you’ve seen it all, there’s a small room beyond the solitary confinement cell, which is empty apart from the dozens of ropes dangling from the ceiling. Each one is a noose, representing the fate of dozens of executed freedom fighters. It’s grisly but effective symbolism”. Adrian Goldberg.

The past is a series of news items, photographs, videos, memoirs… the stench has been anesthetised. The stench is a dabbed familiar of a sterile environment. An environment cleansed by the political correctness of having such an installation that is both museum and art.

The history is fascinating, the past injustices of one government popularised because of its absurd policies, just as another government could be popularised for their corrupted ideologies. The museum/art work offers itself as a history and yet as a truth. In both cases it is correct, the work shows and explains the past and present. The work offers the viewer an understanding of present sentiment, but does it go beyond this?

The voices that speak from this work are those of the neo-corporate. The voice a self justified industrial. The story is not of the universal but rather of the ‘in’ content. The story, meaning is of a disinfected history that is within the political quota of the day, this doesn’t mean that its something to be avoided but rather in order to understand the voice of today one should experience this voice, lacking as it is. This artwork is a work that aims at medicoracy and the understanding of the uninitiated.

I say this, not glibly but rather for serious consideration. As I see this as a serious work of art that has the potential of being a great work, but due to political agendas, has lost the path, so to speak. The work becomes a survey and lacks the commentary that is necessary of such an undertaking.

When entering the museum, the initiate is given a pass. White or Black, the choice is random and purveys the seeming choice of the apartheid government, at all points the architecture compliments the contact as in no other structure in modern South Africa. Identity documents, enlarged and encaged, confront the innocent viewer in a death-defying manner.

A bleak and reflective walk is alternatively available. The viewer is left to struggle into a composite area that leads to the museum. At this point the information is cartoonised and schematic. Images of ourselves as viewer are realised and incorporated into the architecture and artwork. We are walking into… we are part of, so the work demands.

The viewer waits in a train station like foyer, for the introductory film. The film, a well-devised propaganda documentary of African history (I especially loved the part where bushman art symbolism is rationalised as “a prediction of events to come”) this ends shockened-ly, with a break at the start of apartheid… beautiful if not melodramatic.

As an artist I could only envy the amount of money available for the Museums technological equipment. The consortium of images that juxtapose time-line images, video and sound is astounding. Beautiful. Awesome.


Got a torturer: 1 & 1 is 3.

“I think it only makes sense to seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, and to challenge them; unless a justification for them can be given, they are illegitimate, and should be dismantled, to increase the scope of human freedom”. Noam Chomky

Yes/to/day I visited an art gallery, not the nat/u/anal or any/thing, but the more con/temp/ovary one – the one that de/pics the you/th cult, the way/ward/ford. On pen/it/tration it was hard to find the works. The works must be real/lie good because they were so hard to see.

Throughout South African history we are wit/ness to the pre/dit/ors view. The position of the art gallery can be seen as a place that brings out the hunter – the collector. Objects are gathered specifically for the hunter’s enjoyment. The gallery becomes the place that displays the corpse – a place that opens the doors to public vision, thus empowering the predator.

The commercial gallery is like a drive-through-game-reserve.

“…I’d made up my mind that he would like some of my work. What made it worse was his coldness. He seemed so absolutely serious and clinical. Not the faintest line of humour or tenderness, even of sarcasm, on his face. Suddenly much, much older than me…He said, it’s quite graphic, well composed, I can’t tell you details. But it’s not living art. It’s not limb of your body…” John Fowles ‘The Collector’

When visiting the commercial ranches: On entry you/re served a glass of cham/pain. At first ‘site’ the exhibition looks like any other curio shop. Yet among the curios are the prospective art works, which are also camouflaged as curios. Fortunately the camouflage is transparent. The art works have price tags and an outdated catalogue is available, although the catalogue does not always include the works on display. We feel as if we are the aftermath, the viewers of the corpse. This is the gap that acts as a shield to the door of public vision. The art works on exhibition become the victims whose concepts assert the power of the predator.

“The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth – it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true”. Ecclesiastes

The collection policy of the municipal and national galleries tends to be made up of a simulacrum. The issues of collection involve the constrains of a tightly restricted budget that is slowly shrinking each year; the problems of an inadequate staff that often lacks specialist training; the lack of storage; and a policy that tends to focus on art works from the immediate surrounding areas, more specifically local art. Hence the hunter often feels stifled when entering these establishments. And so the answer over the last decade has been to offer travelling shows. Large National travelling shows that give off a sent of promise for the hunter in a way to attract the number game.

“The gallery is deserted because it has adopted the authority of science, a belief in a system that accepts the reality of observation – of preserving the meaning within the thing as a priori. The gallery is a place where the de-certain, de-exact and de-final are presented as un-‘de’ed, a place where the de-stabilised rules of consumerism are embraced by eruditeness”. THE SAARTJIE GUIDE TO THE EPISTEMOLOGICAL DE-BATE OF SOUTH AFRICAN ART OR, PROMISCUITY IN THE GALLERY

To rearticulate our original premises: Walking through our commercial galleries is like walking through an abattoir; walking through the municipal and national galleries is like partaking in a 19th century freak show.

“…we need an o/pen mind to be/have in the Gall(URL)ery: the gallery s/p(l)ace is a maze and the 1 ON(E)ly in/side viewer the hanger of ritural/s”. THE SAARTJIE GUIDE TO Eti/quiet in the Gallery – how to be/(h)ave: a more/al(l) issue?