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Standard Bank National Arts Festival
5 July 2002  By Andries Loots
Performance : Confessions of Zeno ( South African Première )
Director : William Kentridge 
with the Handspring Puppet Company,  music by Kevin Volens and libretto by Jane Taylor. 
William Kentridge based this complex, parallel performance played out in multi media on an Austrian / Italian novel of the 1920's, "Confessions of Zeno", by Italo Svevo. He feels a close parallel between Zeno's experiences and living in Johannesburg in the 80's. Shadow puppetry (also projected through video onto a huge screen),  live opera singing,  a string quartet,  'projected'  speech (text),  acting and animation all compete for simultaneous attention of all of the onlookers senses.
Confessions of Zeno
The narration by actor Dawid Minnaar has to tower above all and connect all these visually rich experiences into one homogenous story about the main character, Zeno, admitting to his various failures :  giving up smoking,  relating to his father or the choice between his wife and his mistress. The observer is tossed between the real image and the created one,  between deciding what is true and what not. This is masterly amplified by the juxtaposition between the actual multi dimensional puppets and their projected shadows;  between the actors and their shadow counterparts. 

The visual experience sometimes presides over the music and sometimes even over the story. There is constant doubt between the obviously stated and the indirectly deduced and although both are visible at the same time on the stage,  everything is not revealed and the observer is ultimately left to filter from all these experiences and find his own coherence.

Quotes from Cue News Paper :

"Act II felt less secure "
"Superbly performed,  the singers ( Pumeza Matshikiza,  Otto Maidi ) "
"The shadow puppets provide another masterly piece of double speak" 
"Perhaps this work will continue developing in the future... "
"Volen's music : constantly strives and fails to become one with speech,  image and the acting" 


Exhibition : Collagraphs
Artist : Vusi Khumalo

Vusi with one of his collagraphs
In this exciting exhibition of variable edition graphics,  Vusi employs an interesting graphic technique whereby a 'collaged ' matrix of found objects is used as a plate that is inked and printed through a press to produce an intaglio print onto paper. The texture of each individual print is slightly different from the others in the edition.

Exhibition : The Art of Tapestry
Curator : Marguerite Stephens

Two of the large designs by William Kentridge and Karel Nel
An exhibition of huge tapestries produced from the designs of renowned artists like Norman Catherine,  William Kentridge, Karel Nel and Robert Hodgins.

Exhibition : White like Me
Artist : Brett Murray
Standard Bank young artist of the year


Artist Andrew Verster giving a walk about of the exhibition

The medium of the works on display varies from plastic wall sculpture with "Funny " captions taken from cartoons from the 'New Yorker ', 'Spectator ' and 'Punch' Magazines as a starting point to painted bronze bubble head sculptures that fuse African like carved curio bodies with large perfect spherical western like heads to wall sculptures laboriously carved and assembled from metal also with captions in metal lettering.


Bubble head bronze sculptures 

Say I want to go to heaven ... in Zulu.

Brett comments on this exhibition that it merges his work about satirical attacks on bad government with work done along the theme of trying to define a sense of African identity.


Exhibition : Male Identity Post Apartheid
Artist : Group Exhibition,  selected works from the Durban Art Gallery
Curator : Carl Brown
 
This exhibition included works by Hodgins,  Verster,  Moshekwa Langa,  David Koloane and various other artists exploring the changing role of men in South Africa.

Exhibition : Landscape reviewed
Artist : Greg Schultz

Eastern Cape Landscapes in oil
Greg further explored the rich textures and variety of landscape in this exhibition of mostly oil paintings.

The official website of the festival :
http://www.nafest.co.za

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