Mario Pissarra

Re/framed 2

Mario Pissarra, 30 January 2014

Note: originally published as editorial to Third Text Africa vol 2 no. 2, 2010

Any day now one expects the proclamation that ‘contemporary African art’ is dead. After all, its been rumoured for some time, but it seems that no-one will listen until someone with an ego bigger than a continent says so.

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Dis/locating Africa/s, or How Championing a Cause Lost a Continent

Mario Pissarra, 30 January 2014

Note: originally published as editorial for Third Text Africa vol 2 no. 1, 2010

Few could argue that it has been critically important to unsettle dominant notions of Africa. When Africa was widely reduced to a stereotype of backwardness, to an unchanging land without history and differentiation, it was imperative to challenge and counter this image by presenting imaginative and inspiring alternatives. In the main this was done by casting off the boundaries of continent and by turning the binary between the West and Africa inside out.

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Re/centering Artists

Mario Pissarra, 30 January 2014

Note: original published as editorial to Third Text Africa vol 1 no. 4, 2009

This fourth edition of Third Text Africa compiles early texts from Third Text that address the work of specific artists. This act of validating earlier validations of artists introduces a set of its own questions. These questions apply more broadly to the related issues of visibility and validation than they do to the specific texts featured.

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Surveying South Africa

Mario Pissarra, 30 January 2014

Note: originally published  as editorial to Third Text Africa vol 1 no. 3, 2009

This third edition of Third Text Africa comprises selected articles on South African themes published in Third Text between 1991 and 2000. Each comprises a survey of sorts – whether a critical account of South African art practice or a review of an exhibition that was panoramic in scope. Since Third Text only covered a small fraction of such material generated during this period, this edition could be seen to be a random sample of a random sample.

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Re/framed

Mario Pissarra, 30 January 2014

Note: originally written as editorial for Third Text Africa vol 1 no. 2, 2009

“Jerry Jones is a soul singer.”

That would be an innocuous sentence, except that, as Jones assures us, “Still waters run deep.”

Jerry Jones is a soul singer, but you won’t find her on an anthology of soul music. This may seem strange, particularly since Jerry Jones was a black, Alabama born singer who released albums in 1970 and 1971, i.e. when soul was entering its mature phase – Marvin Gaye was about to release Motown’s first ‘protest’ album (What’s Going On) and Curtis Mayfield was beginning his solo career.

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Mud Times

Mario Pissarra, 30 January 2014

Note: Extracted from editorial for Third Text Africa vol 1 no. 1, 2009

For this inaugural issue of Third Text Africa I have focused on the critiques of neo-primitivism that developed in the wake of Magiciens de la Terre in 1989. This critique is ably encapsulated in the content and tone of Rasheed Araeen’s seminal ”Our Bauhaus, Others’ Mudhouse”. John Picton vividly characterised this curatorial trope as ‘neo-primitivist exotica’. In more recent times Sylvester Ogbechie has characterised it as the ‘Pigozzi paradigm’, after the collector inspired by Magiciens.

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test

Uche Okeke’s Legacy Challenges the Ongoing Decolonisation of Art & Art History

Mario Pissarra, 31 May 2013

Note: This was first published as “Art and the nation?” in Art South Africa 11(3): 52

Uche Okeke is widely regarded as a pivotal figure in modern Nigerian art. This accolade stems in large part from his leading role in the Zaria Art Society, an association of students formed in the years preceding political independence from Britain, who challenged the eurocentrism of the art curriculum taught at the Nigerian College of Arts, Science & Technology. In particular Okeke’s formulation of the notion of Natural Synthesis is frequently taken as a foundational moment in the orientation of modern Nigerian art, one that would find full fruition after his teaching appointment at the University of Nsukka in 1970.

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Booing It, Badly: A Response to Sharlene Khan

Mario Pissarra, 15 April 2011

In response to Sharlene Khan’s sequel to her earlier “Doing it for daddy” piece, I would like to briefly make a few observations. Firstly, there is much I agree with. I concur that there is “stagnation in transformation”, although I have my doubts whether it was ever really underway. I also concur that race, gender and class and their relationship to power is still critical to consider, not least in the visual arts. I also despair at the lack of engagement of the DAC with transformation, particularly in the visual arts, although I do think we should be wary about their ability to lead on this issue, given their dismal record. Like Khan, I welcome Riason Naidoo’s appointment at Iziko SANG.

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test2

Art & Decolonisation: Small Steps Towards a Global Art History

Mario Pissarra, 1 February 2011

Introduction

On 14 January 2011 I convened two sessions of a panel on “art as an act of decolonisation” for an international colloquium convened by the South African Visual Arts Historians (SAVAH).(1) The panel comprised ten papers selected from 25 abstracts submitted in response to my call.(2)

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De-segregating the Audience: Race & the Politics of Exhibitions

Mario Pissarra, 23 August 2010

This was prepared for a panel discussion with the same title, held at the Centre for the Book, Cape Town, on 19 August 2010. The panel formed part of the “Beyond the Racial Lens” conference, which was itself  part of the “Bonani 2010 Festival of Documentary Photography” convened by SAHO. Thembinkosi Goniwe and Kwezi Gule were also part of the panel, which was chaired by Farzanah Badsha.

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