CAPE TOWN


1 December 2011 - 14 January 2012

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what we talk about
when we talk about
love

STEVENSON is pleased to present What we talk about when we talk about love, a group exhibition curated by Federica Angelucci.

What we talk about when we talk about love investigates the complexity of the spheres of love, desire and self-inquiry. Its title, borrowed from a Raymond Carver story, suggests that the search for love extends beyond popular culture's notion of romantic love, reiterated in movies and songs. The selected works explore the relationship that we have with ourselves, what we like and dislike, what we desire or reject, and why.

In Carver's story, two couples sit drinking and conversing. Soon, different opinions emerge as to what love is: according to the cardiologist, real love can only be spiritual love; his wife explains the abuses, threats and suicide of her former boyfriend as acts of love. The narrator maintains that love is never an absolute, while his wife of 18 months dwells on the 'honeymoon feeling' they still share. They toast to true love, but doubt lingers among the four characters, as they become drunker and, we perceive, increasingly sad. From their conversation, the carnal impulse, day-to-day caring and sentimental love all seem to be manifestations of true love, yet eventually they all pale or mutate. We leave the four in the dark, in silence so deep they can hear their hearts beating. The question expressed in the title is unanswered.

The works on exhibition - many of them made expressly for the exhibition, in media including film, photography, painting, sculpture and performance - will explore some of the layers concealed within the common perception of love, and generate their own questions.

In Francis Alÿs' Tornado, seen in South Africa for the first time, the artist is filmed attempting to run towards the peaceful eye of the storm. This act is documented in short shots, filmed by Alÿs himself while trying to penetrate the vortices of the tornado, and long open shots filmed from a distance. This dangerous and apparently meaningless task might be seen as the paradox of coming to peace through chaos, a metaphor for the process of passing through the storms of our own projections to reach an inner calm. The Antwerp-born, Mexico City-based Alÿs was the subject of a retrospective, A Story of Deception, which was on view at venues including the Tate Modern in London in 2010 and The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 2011. Central to his practice from early on has been the urban stroll, the artist's wanderings as means to observe and make sense of the rules and standards of society.

Zina Saro-Wiwa (who previously showed her film This is My Africa as part of the gallery's FOREX series) confronts herself with the performance of mourning, bringing the very private act of crying into the public eye in a new video piece. Photographer Pieter Hugo shows portraits of close friends, a meditation on the veracity and failure of the portrait and on the nature of vanity. Anton Kannemeyer explores the idea of raw desire in erotic etchings, while Zanele Muholi engages with the notion of love as activism, using her own body to expose hate crimes against black lesbians.

Glenn Ligon's Negro Sunshine drawings are named after an expression used by Gertrude Stein in the short novel Melanctha. Much like Stein's writing, Ligon's drawings are both accessible and impenetrable: their cyclical structure and obsessive repetitions are a visual litany. The drawings offer a path of reconciliation of opposites. The choice of inclusion or exclusion, of a way out or a way in, is left to the viewer.

In a new figurative sculpture, Claudette Schreuders reflects on the fantasy of love that takes shape in our minds before we actually experience it, as in a fairy tale. Meschac Gaba presents the Marriage Room from his Museum for Contemporary African Art: the installation of objects and memories from the artist's wedding day represents the institutional and ritual dimension of love. Deborah Poynton exhibits a painting of a naked figure engulfed in red velvet. The pose suggests she is turning away from the world, drowning in the fabric, finding peace in the void. Viviane Sassen's photographs of faceless figures depict the other as a blank canvas onto which we can project our own desires. Painted in oils on canvas, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye's enigmatic subjects seem to own the key to themselves; the fact that they don't exist casts doubt on the possibility to transcend the dualities of love. And Penny Siopis investigates the realm of ideals and how they can become grotesque, adopting one of the symbols of Roman piety and charity as a point of departure for new paintings. Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto shows a new sculpture that suggests the endless oscillation of connected beings between parting and encountering. Other featured artists are Dineo Seshee Bopape, Wim Botha, Nicholas Hlobo, Igshaan Adams and Simon Gush.

The exhibition opens on Thursday 1 December, from 6 to 8pm.

Curator Federica Angelucci will give a walkabout of the exhibition in support of the Friends of the South African National Gallery on Friday 2 December at 11am. Entrance is R20 members and non-members; all are welcome.

The gallery will be open throughout the season except on public holidays and Saturday 24 December. Hours are Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, and Saturday from 10am to 1pm.



Francis Alÿs
Tornado

Francis Alÿs
Untitled

Igshaan Adams
I Am You

Igshaan Adams
I Am You

Wim Botha
Fuse

Wim Botha
Fuse

Viviane Sassen
Weru Weru

Viviane Sassen
Kinee

Deborah Poynton
Land of Cockaigne 1

Pieter Hugo
Federica Angelucci, Cape Town, 2011

View the full series

Pieter Hugo
Yasser Booley, Cape Town, 2011

Pieter Hugo
Michael Cleary, Cape Town, 2011

Pieter Hugo
Ashleigh McLean, Cape Town, 2011

Glenn Ligon
Study for Negro Sunshine II #26

Glenn Ligon
Study for Negro Sunshine II #27

Glenn Ligon
Study for Negro Sunshine II #28

Glenn Ligon
Study for Negro Sunshine II #29

Dineo Seshee Bopape
love strung

Claudette Schreuders
Great Expectations

Claudette Schreuders
Great Expectations

Claudette Schreuders
Great Expectations

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
Clamour for a Grip

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
8pm Zaragoza

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
Wishes above Needs

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
Much in Keeping

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
The Reason For

Zina Saro-Wiwa
Sarogua Mourning

Penny Siopis
Let me count the ways

Penny Siopis
How do I love thee?

Penny Siopis
Memorable acts of piety

Penny Siopis
With my lost saints

Zanele Muholi
Untitled

Zanele Muholi
Untitled

Zanele Muholi
Untitled

Ernesto Neto
Untitled

Ernesto Neto
Untitled

Anton Kannemeyer
Conundrums by DH Lawrence

Anton Kannemeyer
I Will Enjoy My Heart with No One

Anton Kannemeyer
The Risen Lord

Anton Kannemeyer
Immoral Man

Anton Kannemeyer
'Gross, Coarse and Hideous'

Anton Kannemeyer
Beware! Oh My Dear Young Men

Nicholas Hlobo
Sukundipha Intlenge

Meschac Gaba
Marriage Room