It’s a Strange Strange World We Live in, Master Jack*

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The lecture encompasses an overview of South African contemporary art in a global context over the past 20 years, tracking some definitive developments ranging from the institutional (with reference to the defunct Johannesburg and Cape Town Biennales), individual international career trajectories (with reference to William Kentridge, Candice Breitz and Robin Rhode) and emerging practices (with reference to the work of Kudzanai Chiurai, Zanele Muholi and Athi Patra Ruga).

The presentation interrogates notions of strangeness, and the odd, sometimes difficult presence of South Africa in the world. The discussion also foregrounds how popular culture influenced the perceptions of South Africa globally, ranging from the saccharine Four Jacks and a Jill pop group of the late 60s, Miriam Makeba’s activism and the most recent shenanigans of zef rap group Die Antwoord, and its clumsy dance with contemporary art.

This is discussed within the philosophical contexts of the Altermodern (as articulated by Nicholas Bourriaud) and Afripolitanism (as articulated by Achille Mbembe).

This lecture was first presented in March 2012 at Usina do Gasometro, Porto Alegre, Brazil, on invitation by the Municipality of Porto Alegre.

*The title of the only international hit by South African pop group Four Jacks and a Jill in 1967

Duration: 60 – 90 minutes including discussion time
Technical: Beamer, Powerpoint from MacBook, preferably with WIFI access, sound system
Visuals: 3 x 2min video clips with sound (via Youtube), approximately 20 images

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