[ISEA2018] Curators Statement: Jenny Stretton & Marcus Neustetter — Unplugged: Works from the Durban Art Gallery Collection

Curators Statement

Other Realities sub-programme

This is neither the reaction to nor the antidote for Electronic Art – it is reverence shown to its ancestors. In the beginning… was simpler stuff, like clay or wood or grass fashioned into vessels or rattan; all sturdy things that initially served a practical purpose, like clay to contain beer, or rope to tether an animal . But then some visionary said “This piece of pottery reminds me of a vessel to contain the universe”, and so, through the metaphor, craft elbowed its way into art. Of course once the genie was out the bottle it was open season: another bright spark said “If I can dream about assembling events in my mind, instead of representing them just as words on a page or marks on a canvas I can scramble them up in a cipher, a number soup that can be sent across the solar system to a satellite or just down the road if I want.”

ISEA is about electronic art and the enormous power it wields. But this part of the exhibition is about an exploration of the roots of an artform that will eventually outgrow the title Electronic Art to become the datum. Returning to the prototypes, the thing on which ideas were hung: the subjects in this part of the exhibition are plainly of this world – Voortrekker wagons; pictures of men digging gold from the pit; early marine engineering and moving on to aircraft taking flight. These physical representations are the progenitors and the feedstock from which virtual artworks are made and must be understood in a different and a more fundamental frame – respect the atoms!

Work by the following South African artists: Nils Severin Andersen, Andries Botha, Brett Murray, Norman Catherine, Christine Dixie, Malcolm Christian, Thami Dube, Paul Edmunds, Andries Gouws, Godfrey Gumede, Judy Jordan, William Kentridge, Isaac Khanyile, Mzwake Mbatha, Virginia McKenny, Langa Magwa, Gift Madziva, Sibusiso Maphumulo, Julius Mfethe, Bucks Ndimande, Vina Ndwandwe, Thomas Nkuna, Ben Nsusha, P Ntliziwana, Derrick Nxumalo, Walter Oltmann, Richard Shange, Faye Spencer, Greg Streak, Tito Zungu & others.

Curated by

  • Jenny Stretton, SA, Senior Curator, Durban Art Gallery
  • Marcus Neustetter, SA, Trinity Session, Johannesburg, SA. Artistic director ISEA2018