Tuesday, March 17, 2015

SFMOMA: Public Intimacy (2014)

Public Intimacy: Art and Other Ordinary Acts in South Africa 


Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, February 21 - June 29, 2014

Disrupting expected images of South Africa, the 25 contemporary artists and collectives featured in Public Intimacy eloquently explore the poetics and politics of the everyday. This collaboration with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts presents pictures from SFMOMA’s collection of South African photography alongside works in a broad range of media, including video, painting, sculpture, performance, and publications — most made in the last five years, and many on view for the first time on the West Coast. Coinciding with the 20th anniversary of democracy in South Africa, Public Intimacy reveals the nuances of human interaction in a country still undergoing significant change, vividly showing public life there in a more complex light.

Public Intimacy includes works by Ian Berry, Ernest Cole, David Goldblatt, Handspring Puppet Company, Nicholas Hlobo, ijusi (Garth Walker), Anton Kannemeyer, William Kentridge, Donna Kukama, Terry Kurgan, Sabelo Mlangeni, Santu Mofokeng, Billy Monk, Zanele Muholi, Sello Pesa and Vaughn Sadie with Ntsoana Contemporary Dance Theatre, Cameron Platter, Lindeka Qampi, Jo Ractliffe, Athi-Patra Ruga, Berni Searle, Penny Siopis, Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse, and Kemang Wa Lehulere.


Athi-Patra Ruga's ongoing performance series The Future White Women of Azania (2010‒present) features fantastical characters — usually played by the artist — whose upper bodies sprout colorful, liquid-filled balloons, while their lower bodies pose or move in stockings and heels. Drawn from both classical Greek and Roman accounts of southern Africa and activists' dreams of a pre- and post-apartheid black African utopia, Ruga's Azania occurs as a state in flux: the Future White Women's liquid-filled balloons droop and pop, and the character dissolves to reveal a performer. Ruga's new work, The Elder of Azania, introduces another shape-shifter: a spiritual figure, both king and trickster, both Xhosa's goat spirit and Vaslav Nijinsky's famous faun.
Copresented with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts as part of Public Intimacy and Live Projects 4



Athi-Patra Ruga, artist La Chica Boom, Dia Dear, Monique Jenkinson, Brontez Purnell, and Mica Sigourney, dancers

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