Previously at the ICA - Films
3 Sep 2013
Despite the legalisation of same-sex marriage within South Africa on the 30th of November 2006 – making it the first country in the Southern Hemisphere to do so, and the fifth internationally – in many communities living out-of-the-closet still entails being cast out.
This at times dangerous precarity has been negotiated by artists Steven Cohen and Zanele Muholi, whose work resonates with political urgency, outside the trappings of counter-cultural cool. Within video, they employ utterly divergent approaches to mapping queer space in Africa: Cohen stages fantastical public interventions in monstrous drag and dance, whilst Muholi produces pragmatic documentaries.
By upending dogmas and political correctness through exploiting his identity as white, gay, Jewish, and South African, Cohen becomes a catalyst in debates on the ethical. Part archival, part activist, Muholi, renowned as a photographer, zones in on the tenderness of love between black lesbians in South Africa, simultaneously creating international awareness of violent incidents like corrective rape and murder aimed at queer bodies.
This screening brings together Cohen and Muholi’s work in sole dialogue for the first time as a much needed geographic expansion to the ways discourses about gay lives, and counter-cultures, are charted globally.
Following the screening there will be a discussion held in the ICA Studio led by Dr Liese van der Watt and Professor Tamar Garb.
Liese van der Watt is an independent art historian and writer based in London. The author of numerous articles, catalogue essays and art reviews, her teaching and research interests are mostly in the field of contemporary African and especially South African art. Van der Watt's writing projects consider race, identity and representation in contemporary art and are a continuation of her doctoral research that focused on whiteness in post-apartheid South African visual culture. Until 2007 she was a senior lecturer in the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Cape Town where she taught Art History and Visual Culture.
Tamar Garb is Durning Lawrence Professor in the History of Art at UCL. In April 2011, her exhibition Figures and Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography opened at the Victoria & Albert Museum, and Garb was subsequently nominated for a Lucie award in Curating. She is currently curating a series of exhibitions for the Walther Foundation, New York and Germany, entitled Distance and Desire: Encounters with the African Archive and is a Leverhulme Research Fellow for 2012-2014.
This event has been initiated by ICA Student Forum member Abri de Swardt.