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17 Feb 2010

Dada South? Exploring Dada legacies in South African art 1960 – the present

Image of Ronald Muchatuta outside Iziko Gallery

Dada South? Exploring Dada legacies in South African art 1960 – the present
Iziko Museums of Cape Town


Symposium February 18 & 19, 2010 Closing events February 27 & 28, 2010 Open Tues - Sun, 10h00 - 17h00 Symposium details by request


+27 (0)21 467 4660
+27 (0)21 467 4680

Iziko South African National Gallery
Government Avenue, Company's Garden
Cape Town 8001
South Africa

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Exploring Dada legacies in South African art 1960 – the present

Iziko South African National Gallery Until February 28, 2010
Exhibition Symposium February 18 & 19, 2010
Closing Weekend February 27 and 28, 2010

The critically acclaimed exhibition Dada South? is one of the first locally-produced, independently curated museum exhibitions in South Africa that focuses on a major international art movement of the 20th century, but from the perspective of recent South African art.

Curators Roger van Wyk and Kathryn Smith present a special programme in the last two weeks of the exhibition, including a two-day public symposium and closing weekend talks featuring South African and visiting scholars, curators and artists.

Drawing together the first collection of historical Dada works ever seen in South Africa, as well as an eclectic range of works by South African artists representing an assortment of experimental and underground positions, the exhibition proposes a review of the ambivalent relationship between cultural creation and political resistance, as well as how art historical ideas are received and interpreted in response to specific, local conditions.

Dada South?
also invites consideration of another set of questions: What significance did African art hold for Dada and how do we understand their ideas about Africa? How are their counter-rational, collaborative and interdisciplinary strategies, dating back nearly 100 years now, still so resonant in contemporary art today? In particular, what does a Dada attitude to the political and spiritual reveal about individualism, collectivism and ethics in art today? As Marcel Duchamp said, “When you tap something, you don’t always recognize the sound. That’s apt to come later.” Could Dada be the only 20th century movement that still exists?

As a movement founded by exiles and migrants, Dada challenged notions of territoriality, nationality, ownership and prescribed identity. Dada’s lack of allegiance to any style or ideology, as well as its political and aesthetic contrariness offers an alternative lens through which to view creative tactics and tendencies in contexts which have experienced radical political change.
Whether we ask ?What is Dada?’ or ?What is not-Dada?’ (which is a rather Dada question), some of the topics covered include the relationship between Dada and Africa; the cultural underground and related periodicals; art practice as a tactics of action; relationships between forms of art and political agency; the tensions between  institutions and experimentation; and counter-rational strategies (absurdism, chaos and chance) as methods for innovation.

Keynote speakers include renowned Dada scholar Marc Dachy (Paris, FR); curator Susan Hapgood (New York, USA); performance theorist Jean Johnson-Jones (Surrey, UK) and artist and social provocateur Nina Romm (Johannesburg, ZA). Other speakers include Belinda Blignaut, Willem Boshoff, Fred de Vries, Kendell Geers, Thembinkosi Goniwe, the Gugulective, Stacy Hardy, Ashraf Jamal and James Sey, among many others.

Adrian Notz (Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich), Lia Perjovschi (artist, Romania) and John Nankin (artist, South Africa) will present talks and performances at the closing weekend.

Dada South? is presented by the Goethe-Institut, the National Arts Council of South Africa, Pro Helvetia, Mondriaan Foundation, Embassy of France in South Africa, Institut Française d’Afrique du Sud, University of Stellenbosch, Iziko Museums of Cape Town, Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, Stuttgart; BHP Billiton, and the generous support of private donors.
The Dada South? symposium and closing weekend is made possible through the additional generosity of Vivien Cohen, Culturesfrance, Pro Helvetia, Goodman Gallery, Iziko Museums of Cape Town and the Romanian Cultural Institute, Bucharest.


Lenders to the exhibition include the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, Stuttgart; Berlin Gallery, Landes Museum Berlin; John Heartfield Archive of the Academy of Arts, Berlin; Goethe-Institut Collection, Munich; Kunsthaus Zürich; Bellerive Museum, Zürich Museum of Design; Centre Pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne collections, Paris; De Stijl Archives, Netherlands Institute for Art History, Den Haag; Johannesburg Art Gallery; Iziko South African National Gallery; Gauteng Legislature; Sasol Museum, University of Stellenbosch; BHP Billiton; Wits Art Galleries and private lenders.