This year the FNB JoburgArtFair is focussed on dynamic new forms of experimental film and live performance. At the Fair, a central theatre space will host a programme of film screenings, performances and talks to highlight the increasing significance of these multidisciplinary forms in contemporary African art. Most of the Special Projects for the 2015 Fair uphold this same focus, from Ben Patterson’s performance ‘Paper Piece’ to the premiering of the films created by Johannesburg Pavilion artists during the Venice Biennale. The only project that does sway from the Fair’s main focus is undoubtedly a welcome one: an art bar designed by Cameron Platter. Read on for an overview of the Special Projects to look out for this year.
Performance art pioneer Ben Patterson’s ‘Paper Piece’
Since its inception in 2008, German cultural organisation the Goethe-Institut has been involved with the FNB JoburgArtFair, bringing international voices and projects to the programme. This year the Goethe-Institut is supporting the Fair’s focus on film and performance art with two projects: the showing of work from the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen in a dedicated booth, and Ben Patterson’s performance work ‘Paper Piece’. Patterson, an American artist born in 1934, says that his intentions “have not been to produce art…but have instead contrived to excite that faculty or faculties responsible for integrating experience.” He will perform ‘Paper Piece’ at the FNB JoburgArtFair in the context of the exhibition ‘Think of Number 6’ organised by John Peffer and Bettina Malcomess to “share alternatives to the narrowly defined identity-based art too often encouraged by the art market, especially for women artists, artists of colour, or artists from Africa”.
Patterson was an early pioneer of performance art and one of the founding members of Fluxus; the international artists’ network that challenged the boundaries of visual art, music, and theatre via an anti-commercial approach to creative practice in the 60s. Conceived around this time and premiered at the first Fluxus Festival in Wiesbaden, Germany, ‘Paper Piece’ is a score for five performers who twist, tear, shuffle, wave and otherwise manipulate a pile of paper to produce various sonic and visual effects.
A selection from the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen
Still the prime source of innovation for the art of film, short film is the experimental field in which future cinematic vocabularies first crystallise. At the 2015 FNB JoburgArtFair, the Goethe-Institut has invited the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen to present a selection of international art films. Founded in 1954, the Festival is the oldest of its kind and has become one of the largest and most important platforms for short films worldwide. Oberhausen has been a catalyst and a showcase for contemporary developments, a forum for (often heated) discussions and a discoverer of new trends and talent. The programme to be screened at this year’s Fair was curated by Hilke Doering, who has been with Oberhausen since 1995, and includes short films that investigate current political issues shared across local and international contexts.
The winner and finalists of LOOP Barcelona’s 2015 Discovery Award
LOOP is an independent platform dedicated to the fostering of video art, artists’ films and moving image practices. Founded in 2003, the pioneering and experimental space is open to innovative attitudes and approaches that offer specialised audiences a curated selection of video-related content from challenging perspectives. Following a founding principle of casting light on the current trends in video art and presenting these to the general public, each year LOOP hosts LOOP Barcelona, a highlight for the international video art community. Through its three sections – Fair, Festival and Studies – it premieres new productions, features exhibitions, supports specific projects and screenings, and displays a large programme of talks dealing with current issues and opinions pertaining to video art.
The Discovery Award, an art video/film competition that aims to support and recognise new work by international artists, is an initiative by LOOP Barcelona. The competition solicits entries through a free open call to the artistic community. To be presented at this year’s FNB JoburgArtFair is the winning film, ‘Seeds’ by Shahar Marcus, as well as 10 finalists of the 2015 Discovery Award.
Film documentation from the Johannesburg Pavilion in Venice
The Johannesburg Pavilion consists of a group of film and performance artists investigating the possibilities and implications of presenting and making work by creating a site of production on the edges of a global art event like the Venice Biennale. It was created in 2015 by the 133 Arts Foundation in partnership with the FNB JoburgArtFair with the view of a “virtual institution” that operates in a space between its domestic context and foreign lands. The platform is an ongoing one that exists for the international exposure of African artists who are forging fresh and alternate spaces through their work.
At the Venice Biennale this year, Johannesburg Pavilion artists developed new work in-situ and performed these narratives by placing their performing bodies directly in the ebb-and-flow of the city. Feeding off its resistance and conflict, they used Venice not only as a place of visual consumption but also as a temporal and productive place of residence. The resulting film documentation will be shown for the first time during the 2015 FNB JoburgArtFair, after which it will return to Venice for closure. The film works include Capital, Conflict and Death in Venice; A performative film by Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi and Arya Lalloo together with Chris Wessels; Sea of Ash, a film by Michael MacGarry and Marco Polo, a film installation by Anthea Moys.
Absolut Vodka presents ‘The Arts & Crafts – Baboink Art Bar’ by Cameron Platter
Following a long tradition of creative commissions and support of the visual arts, Absolut Vodka has selected artist Cameron Platter to deliver its first large-scale bar installation in South Africa. It is on the occasion of the 2015 FNB JoburgArtFair that Absolut Vodka presents Platter’s ‘The Arts & Crafts – Baboink Art Bar’. The installation investigates consumption, excess and waste within a fragmented South African identity, and it fills the ordinary with incendiary new meaning. As the ultimate consumer combo, it includes a vodka bar, a vitrine housing a collection of Platter’s objects, soft sculptures to lounge on, neon signs, photographic works and a specially commissioned soundtrack.
Visit the Special Projects at the FNB JoburgArtFair from 11 – 13 September at the Sandton Convention Centre.
Friday 11 September from 11am – 8pm
Saturday 12 September from 10am – 6pm
Sunday 13 September from 10am – 5pm
R500 for Thursday night’s Opening Preview Party
R100 on Friday
R130 on Saturday / Sunday
R260 for a Weekend Pass
Buy tickets online or at the door.