Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

Author: Athi Mongezeleli Joja

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The state or economies of the South African visual arts industry.

JoburgMarySibandePhoto Alon Skuy

This article of the South African art critic Athi Mongezeleli is a “solidarity criticism” in what appears to be an interesting public provocation about the state or economies of the South African visual arts industry. He reacts on an article of the art historian and curator Thembinkosi Goniwe in the newspaper Main and Guardian.

A work of Mary Sibande at the Joburg Art Fair, 2018, © photo: Alon Skuy

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Sabelo Mlangeni’s Umlindelo Wamakholwa


The failures of this show are not immediately in the works, but how the curators chose to conceive it. The short-circuiting and catch-phrasing stunts that have come to typify curatorial practice are slowly leading towards sterility. But if we look beyond the show’s slightly unimaginative presentation, Mlangeni’s images intimately and charmingly indicate a complexity in the Zion church, a complexity only a caring artist has.

Athi Mongezeleli Joja on the South African photographer Sabelo Mlangeni

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Black Chronicles IV

BChroiclesWellington Majiza, The African Choir. London, 1891. By London Stereoscopic Company. © Hulton ArchiveGetty Images. Courtesy of Hulton Archive, and Autograph ABP, London.

But caught between limits of representational possibilities and the contradiction of colonial representation, here portraiture finds itself in an interesting aporia. That is between an enchanting representation, and the existential reality of knowing oneself as a problem for humanity. This performative contradiction creates problems for the lauded humanizing acts of the photograph as a general conflict in Black Chronicles IV.

Athi Mongezeleli Joja on the travelling exhibition Black Chronicles IV
Wellington Majiza, The African Choir, London 1891. By London Stereoscopic Company.©-Hulton Archive/Getty Images. Courtesy of Hulton Archive and Autograph ABP, London.

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Igshaan Adams: Oorskot


Using found material to make statements about the intimacy between sexuality, religion and race Adams’ oeuvre renews our interests in topical subjects in ways that beckon us to pay attention to subtly sustained institutionalized bigotries and discontinuities.

Athi Mongezeleli Joja on the South-African artist Igshaan Adams

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Two remarkable exhibitions in Joburg

Drinks Cabinet The West Indian Front Room-Geffrye Museum 2005-06)©John Nelligan (1)

The work of two British born artists – Michael McMillian’s Inna Joburg situated above, and Christine Checinska’ The Arrivants below – shown at the University of Johannesburg’s gallery FADA reconstruct quotidian moments that tend to vegetate into the margins of history.

Athi Mongezeleli Joja on two remarkable exhibitions at the University of Joburg.
Drinks Cabinet of The West Indian Front Room (Geffrye-Museum-2005-06) ©John Nelligan.

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