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Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Graduate Show 2010

Upstairs exhibition space with Liam Pretorius and Janno Scholtz sculptures in foreground and Clanelle Burger wall hangings
behind.
N M M U DEPARTMENT OF FINE ARTS
GRADUATING STUDENTS
2010

Review for Art Times


by Gregory Kerr

Any year-end show from a large institution is likely to be a bit of a Jumble Sale with a
lot of good-enough work, some crap and the occasional delightful surprise. This is a
big department so there is some of each, but there seems to be much more
excellence than excrescence at the NMMU these days.

Institutional exhibitions are not really about the students. They are about the
institution and the academics that front it. For curatorship that uses the dreary Art
and Design building as if it were the Tate, Ethna Frankenfelder should get a medal;
all those odd objects suddenly given space, lux and volupte in a context that makes
them worth contemplating. If there has to be a final, qualitative bottom line regarding
this exhibition, it should be to congratulate the teaching staff who have turned the
expectations of the School from ordinary to extraordinary. The students have learned
a lot about art-making, professional practice and their place in the contemporary art
world.

There is a lot of pretty good stuff. Good drawing, interestingly bad drawing, very
interesting execrable painting, clever and competent printmaking on themes of
feminine/Afrikaner/African/ identity and
technically superb (though oddly dull) bronze sculptures and seashell-themed
ceramics. All these pass muster and are perfectly adequate for the basics of what
art schools kind of do. But on the Sale of Work table, among the crochet tea cozies, I
found the Little Assassin’s Sniper Kit complete with cyanide-tipped ammunition.

For example, next to a perfectly innocuous series of wild life etchings, a manga
bondage room! Little kewpie dolls on tik.? A room of psychotic colouring book
images and scraps. Stephanie van Vuuren’s installation takes you into a delightful, if
dystopian world of dysfunctional childhood. She knows that if you make one odd
manga drawing, you will be ignored. If you apply obsessive compulsion to a room full
of peculiar relics, you won’t be.

Other intriguing environments were Sinead Brennan’s A Relatively Minor Event


dealing minimally but evocatively with the metaphysics of violence, and Monique
Fourie’s Huis Spataar , a quirky take on the bathos of old age. Leminah Chifadza’s
closet full of paraphernalia with a plaintiff and haunting noise seeping out of a pile of
luggage got me quite emotional about her interrogation of human trafficking.

Without the benefit of an installation environment, but taking evocation to a higher


level, was Alison Shaw’s collection of mummified animal forms laid out on and in felt,
quilting, cotton duck shrouds and swaddling integuments. Some of the little corpses
are poignant in their knitted jackets and cots; some are hysterical. The kraalbrakkie
glinting sightlessly from its nimbus of pink fun fur was a highlight of the exhibition.
While all of the works are driven (or at least explicated ex post facto) by earnest
asseverations of relevance, historical nexus, conceptual rigour, social mordancy and all
of the things that lecturers insist their students stump up as “proposals” and “conceptual
frameworks”, I wasn’t that interested or even convinced by much of the accompanying
text. So much of it is couched in a style of such high seriousness one wonders that the
young champions of the fur seal, the ozone layer and the clitoris have the time to cobble
their pieces together. What I did was allow the objects to roam around free to bite me or
be ignored. Once bitten, it was likely that I would find the information supplied as
justification or extension interesting and enriching, but if the work were just tedious (and
here I am tactfully not mentioning whose seashells and wet-fired ceramics I found dull)
no amount of deeply held views would be enough to redeem those morose and clumpy
blobs.

Thus speaks the fuddy-duddy formalist, but it is not a bad thing in my book to want art
works to have a presence, a sense of sensuousness and engagement. Take Josh
Stumpfer’s concrete and boxed horsy things, for example. In the first place, these
pieces are crafted. By this I mean that they impress you by being well made; by looking
like someone paid a lot of attention to them. Stumpfer’s work has a gravitas and a
presence that is not just about its classical allusions. It is weighty, dignified, intriguing
and sustained. I eventually got round to finding out why he puts bits of horse anatomy
into a concrete matrix and then molds the entire thing in science lab display cases. He
does this because, um, sorry, I forgot. I don’t care really. I just want one of them.
Alison Shaw
Alison Shaw
Alison Shaw
Thomas Skinner
Thomas Skinner
Stacy Snodgrass
Stacy Snodgrass
Pieter lategang
Pieter lategang
Pieter lategang
Mzolisa M Daba
Mzolisa M Daba
Mzolisa M Daba
Mzolisa M Daba
Ryan Hugo
Ryan Hugo
Ryan Hugo
Ryan Hugo
Chumisa James
Chumisa James
Chumisa James
Clanelle Burger
Clanelle Burger
Clanelle Burger
Emma Minkley
Emma Minkley
Emma Minkley
Emma Minkley
Emma Minkley
Janine Krerrmann
Janine Krerrmann
Janine Krerrmann
Janno Scholtz
Janno Scholtz
Janno Scholtz
Janno Scholtz
Jessica Drake
Jessica Drake
Joshua Strumpfer
Joshua Strumpfer
Joshua Strumpfer
Justin Roberts
Justin Roberts
Justin Roberts
Karen Flood
Karen Flood
Karen Flood
Karen Flood
Kate-Lynn Zeiss
Kate-Lynn Zeiss
Kate-Lynn Zeiss
Kayakazi Citwa
Kayakazi Citwa
Kayakazi Citwa
Keegan Blazey
Keegan Blazey
Keegan Blazey
Keegan Blazey
Kristy-Lee Kerr
Kristy-Lee Kerr
Kristy-Lee Kerr
Laura Muller
Laura Muller
Laura Muller
Laura Muller
Laura Wilmot
Laura Wilmot
Laura Wilmot
Laura Wilmot
Leminah Chifadza
Leminah Chifadza
Leminah Chifadza
Leminah Chifadza
Liam Pretorius
Liam Pretorius
Liam Pretorius
Liam Pretorius
Luke Lombard
Luke Lombard
Luke Lombard
Luxolo Bukani
Luxolo Bukani
Luxolo Bukani
Michela Liefeldt
Michela Liefeldt
Michela Liefeldt
Michela Liefeldt
Michela Liefeldt
Mary-Ann Kella
Mary-Ann Kella
Maxi Jachens
Maxi Jachens
Maxi Jachens
Mellaney Ruiters
Mellaney Ruiters
Mellaney Ruiters
Michael Wedderburn
Michael Wedderburn
Monde Goniwe
Monde Goniwe
Monde Goniwe
Monde Goniwe
Monique Fourie
Monique Fourie
Monique Fourie
Mpumzeni Mkonto Gwazela
Mpumzeni Mkonto Gwazela
Mpumzeni Mkonto Gwazela
Nompumezo Gubevu
Nompumezo Gubevu
Ntuthu Dara
Ntuthu Dara
Ntuthu Dara
Ntuthu Dara
Paula Paton
Paula Paton
Rosiwah Mogotsi
Rosiwah Mogotsi
Rosiwah Mogotsi
Saabirah Noorshib
Saabirah Noorshib
Saabirah Noorshib
Sharnay Sparg
Sharnay Sparg
Sharnay Sparg
Sinead Brennan
Sinead Brennan
Siyabonga Ngaki
Siyabonga Ngaki
Siyabonga Ngaki
Stephanie van Vuuren
Stephanie van Vuuren
Stephanie van Vuuren
Tegan Sampson
Tegan Sampson