Opinion

halletclarke

Going for a Wrong? Hell, it don’t matter

Mario Pissarra, 31 October 2014

One of the functions traditionally performed by auction houses is the authentification of works of art. Art historians usually stop short of selling themselves as connoisseurs, but in the auction business the sales person claiming the mantle of expert is essential to establish authority, and secure ‘value’. So, along with formal attire we have special protocols and language that includes exotic (French) terms like “provenance”, which translates into something not unlike the pedigree certificate you can expect from the Miniature Doberman Society.

In the art-world the status of the auction houses is just one floor below God’s Loft, the directors of these institutions occupy the same elevated level as the canonizing cardinals of the Vatican. However, while these mercenaries of the art market promiscuously purchase the participation of professors to prop them up, it is really their ability to break sales records that confers ‘greatness’ – Irma Stern becomes South Africa’s most important artist not because she is so startlingly brilliant but because she has the most exclusive client base. It becomes commonplace that at every auction, hitherto obscure items are declared to be “major” works of art. A dodgy Irma Stern seascape is major, perhaps because most South African seascapes are the works of ‘amateurs’, and a bowl of flowers by her that looks like a wishful Van Gogh is major, because they say so.

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The Death of OPINION? (OPINION pt 5)

Mario Pissarra, 3 February 2014

Note: This was originally posted on ASAI Connect on 30 January 2014 They burst upon the scene with gusto, launching missiles at Iziko Mausoleums of Excellence, and then they disappeared… What happened to the terrorists calling themselves OPINION (Our Public Institutions Need Intervention Or Not)?

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Deviant Museums Plan Secession (OPINION pt. 4)

Mario Pissarra, 3 February 2014

Note: This was originally posted on ASAI Connect on 10 January 2014.

Following rumours of endemic discontent within the Iziko Consortium of Excellence, the cultural terrorists calling themselves OPINION (Our Public Institutions Need Intervention Or Not) paid a clandestine visit… to the Iziko West Coast Fossil Park. There they were shocked to discover an Iziko site without its sacred logo.

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OPINION Strikes Again! (OPINION pt 3)

Mario Pissarra, 3 February 2014

Note: This was originally posted on ASAI Connect on 19 December 2013

Babel O. Piziko, contemporary spokesperson for OPINION (Our Public Institutions Need Intervention Or Not), has released a third set of multiple-choice questions designed to test public knowledge and perceptions of Iziko Museums of Somewhere or Other.

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OPINION: The Return of (OPINION pt 2)

Mario Pissarra, 3 February 2014

Note: this was originally posted on ASAI connect on 12 December 2013

RESPONSE FROM IZIKO = Azikho (literal translation from isiXhosa: “there is nothing”)

However, a dubious body calling itself the Indifferent Atrocity, apparently the shadowy executive of the Zippo Consortium of Amusement claimed that Iziko (literal translation from isiXhosa “a hearth”) was in mourning for the loss of a brand even greater than itself, and besides, it did not talk to terrorists, even if they were cultural.

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Our Public Institutions Need Intervention or Not (OPINION pt 1)

Mario Pissarra, 3 February 2014

Note: this was originally posted on ASAI Connect on 5 December 2013

Desperate terrorists have hacked their way into ASAI’s facebook page, where they have released a weapon of crass distraction code-named OPINION. According to the Ministry of Counter-Intelligence in the Newly Independent Bantustan of the Mind, OPINION apparently translates “Our Public Institutions Need Intervention Or Not”.

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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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Doing things differently: the promise of Africa. cont

Mario Pissarra, 20 May 2010

When Jose Antonio Fernandes Dias, visual arts advisor to the Gulbenkian Foundation, was asked by the Mayor of Lisbon what he thought of the idea of a museum for contemporary African art in Portugal, an idea that came from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dias said that it was not a good idea. He told the Mayor that museums risk becoming static places and would keep the “ghetto of contemporary African art” alive. Something more dynamic was needed. Dias was asked to come up with a proposal. That was in 2007. Today he is heading the establishment of a new multi-disciplinary organisation, Africa.Cont, which will be housed in a new building, designed by David Adjaye, to be completed in 2012. A mildly edited version of this appeared in Art South Africa vol. 8 no. 2, 2010, p. 76.

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Decolonising art in Africa: some preliminary thoughts on the relevance of the discourse on decolonization for contemporary African art, with particular reference to post-apartheid South Africa.

Mario Pissarra, 25 November 2009

This was initially presented at a lunch-time lecture at the Michaelis School of Fine Art in 2006. Some of these ideas have been further developed in subsequent papers. It is published here in its original form.

1. The construction and imposition of “authenticities”

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The stakes of art criticism in Africa

Yacouba Konate, 4 November 2007

[This article originally appeared in Gallery No. 19, March 1999, pp. 14-15; and appears here with the permission of the author and the publisher. Initial interest in republishing this article stemmed in part from the need to highlight the critical contribution of publications produced in Africa – Gallery was published from 1994 to 2002 by the Delta Gallery, Harare, Zimbabwe. On the occasion of the forthcoming AICA/VANSA seminar (8-10 November 2007) it seemed a good time to make Professor Konate’s article accessible, and to pose the question: have there been any substantive changes since this was written? MP]

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