‘Public Intimacy’: South Africa as Interpreted by its Contemporary Artists

SAN FRANCISCO—”Public Intimacy: Art and Other Ordinary Acts in South Africa” explores race, politics, crime, economics and gender and sexuality issues, the contentious and evolving matters that are central to defining South Africa today and determining its future tomorrow. The exhibition includes the work of 25 contemporary artists and collectives working in a range of mediums, from photography, video, sculpture and painting to publications.

According to the center, the exhibition “reveals the nuances of human interaction in a country still undergoing significant change, vividly showing public life there in a more complex light.”

Currently undergoing a renovation, SFMOMA continues to present programming by partnering with other arts institutions. “Public Intimacy” is a collaboration between YBCA and SFMOMA, and features works from the museum’s collection of South African photography.

Read more about the exhibition in the accompanying 200-page catalogue.

“Public Intimacy” is on view from Feb. 21 to June 29, 2014. This is the last weekend of the exhibition.

All photos by Arts Observer

Most of the works in the show were created in the past five years and many are on view for the first time on the West Coast of the United States.

Installation view of the “Alphabet of Democracy” series by Anton Kannemeyer.

Detail of “Alphabet of Democracy” series by Anton Kannemeyer.

Documentation of Ruth Simbao’s “Performa Obscura” in collaboration with Mikhael Subotzky, commissioned for the 2012 exhibition “Making Way” in Grahamstown, South Africa (aqueous inkjet prints, printed in 2014) by Athi-Patra Ruga.

Detail of Ruth Simbao’s 2012 “Performa Obscura” in collaboration with Mikhael Subotzky, photographed by Athi-Patra Ruga.

“Umphanda ongazaliyo,” 2008 (rubber, ribbon, zippers, leather, steel, organza) by Nicholas Hloba.

90 works from the “Shame Series,” 2002-2005 (sugarlift, aquatint and photocopy transfer) by Penny Siopis.

Detail of “Shame Series” by Penny Siopis.

Puppets used in the 2010 production of “Or You Could Kiss Me” by the Handspring Puppet Company, with a video excerpt of the performance screening in the background.

Detail of puppets from “Or You Could Kiss Me.”

From left, “Every bead of my art VI” and “Every bead of my art V,” both 2012 (beads, glue, wooden panel) by Zanele Muholi.

Selections from the “Face and Phases” series, 2006-ongoing (gelatin silver prints) by Zanele Muholi. The portraits of black lesbians are intended to allow the women to “present themselves as they want to be seen.”

Installation view of “The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side,” 2014 (white chalk on blackboard paint) by Kemang Wa Lehulere.

Detail of “The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side” by Kemang Wa Lehulere.

Selections from “Public Art/Private Lives AKA Hotel Yoeville,” 2010 (inkjet prints) by Terry Kurgan.

Installation view.

Drawings for the 2003 film “Tide Table” (charcoal on paper) by William Kentridge.

Don’t miss out. “Public Intimacy” closes this weekend. The last day is Sunday, June 29, 2014.

Also of interest: Yale University Art Gallery is currently showing “Contemporary Art/South Africa.” The exhibition is on view from May 9 to Sept. 14, 2014.

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