Paper Wedge
c. 21st century

The exhibition ‘Touching Moments’ encompasses various socio-political notions of self. Reminiscence is rife in the title of this exhibition, ‘moments’ seems to imply that which is passed and only part of a lost history. We have all been touched at one moment or another, whether it be emotionally or physically. There is a certain uncanniness about the word ‘touching’ especially when related with the twentieth century notion of the ‘inappropriate touch’. The piece entitled Paper Wedge (2008) further taps into the sexual innuendo that echoes throughout the exhibition. The wedge denotes something squeezed underneath something else. This, in terms of the connotations of touch would be regarded as highly inappropriate: the idea that something is slotted into a tight dark space between two opposing materials.

The wedge, which is nothing more than a folded sheet of paper, arouses several questions: Is it blank? Does it have some explanatory inscription about its purpose? Does it hold a tit-bit into someone’s life? Similarly, questions littered with perplexities pertaining to the actual piece of furniture supported, are at the fore of one’s mind. Why is the podium wobbly? Was it born faulty or did its leg deteriorate over time and if so, how?

The paper wedge signifies the closing of a void that otherwise destabilized the object. It speaks of intimacy and friction whilst discussing oppression and suffocation. The weight of that monumental object is rested on the previously flimsy piece of paper. This emotive piece actively engages in the discourse concerning the weight inflicted on an individual by the pressures of modern life.
Lerato Bereng

Staple and Bash Mark
c. 21st century

“Arousing strong feelings of sympathy appreciation and gratitude, or maybe arousing feelings of pain, discomfort or irritation”.
The works are experiments, aimed at defining the manifold relations between objects, space, and viewers, following on from the functionality and non-functionality of the relationship between objects and space. As an exhibition, Touching moments engages in a discussion with the public or the viewer in the attempt to define the intimacy between the objects, the self and the space. It brings forth the definition of intimacy and space in a public gallery, questioning the notion of public space and private space.
The works contain accumulated every day objects, juxtaposed to interact, things that one may look at as something of value or something not of any, engaging the viewer to question their definitions of value, whether in a private or public space.
A National Gallery is usually perceived as a space of worth, in Staple and bash mark a staple, something that is not of equivalent value, and a cropped rag, appearing almost as a personal object, are fused to create one work. It is left to the viewer to draw their own conclusion as to how they define a touching moment. What is being touched is the space - you being touched by objects or the space by objects.

Was curating the exhibition a touching moment? Maybe the space touched the viewer? One is left to wonder.

To me the images below may be touching moments. In conclusion, the best thing to do would be to go and view the show and draw out what a touching moment means to you.

Ntando Xorile

Floor Mark
c. 21st century

The particular art work combines different mediums and subjects such as the environment, zigzags and lazy employees who drag things on the floor. The piece was conceived when the artist was walking past this white building several times being probed by curiosity at what it holds, while at the same time fearful and so she developed an imaginary relationship with the space from a distance.

Judging from the way light filters into darkness you can already associate it with racial identity and the line transcends both boundaries. The work takes us back to the beginning of the 21century in the mother city during a time when spaces with similar architecture had connotations of the apartheid governance and an era where most black people stepped into such environment when they were appearing in front of the judge to defend themselves against shit that they didn’t even do in the first place.

And so on the floor marks piece, the artist focuses on wooden floors that have a pre nineteen ninety four feel to them and the ideology of living permanent marks in random places.

Using the ground as a canvass the artist finds herself engaging with the space on a zigzag level☺, questioning the issues of spending fifteen rands entrance fee into the space and the usage of repetitive patterns by modern society. The presentation of the piece engages the viewer to look deeper in to the ground in finding a purpose for work that exist by chance.
Nonkululeko Mlangeni

Light Leak
c. 21st century

Situations, conditions, spaces, places, everywhere and nowhere, lies the fundamental of our inherent existence. We do all that is there and sometimes necessary to, in order to do all that we can ever want to do. This being so compels or rather constantly throws us at inescapable situations, affecting the manner in which we condition our thoughts and ways of seeing.

In an effort to survive such a state of affairs it is only human to condition and adjust our mental realm by exciting positive thoughts as a means of sustaining our sanity. Hope, dreams, desires, anticipation, fantasy and love are all but some of the common responses to situations. And these can vary ranging from the most compassionate to the most loathsome.

Our memory is the internal world through which we begin to decipher, comprehend and interact in constant dialogue with the external world. Within this dialogue, there exists a number of punctures, pierced by our own systems of knowledge processing. Corrosive in its nature and unforgiving, the human mind is known to be the worst enemy to itself.

‘Light Leak’, as an immediate visual reference to ‘Touching Moments’ 2008, it carries relations and layers of meanings through which our perceptive and active response in relation to this very text unlocks the underlying implications we, as humans, exist in. It is a ‘light leak’ as the title suggests, control, surveillance, voyeuristic and sinister undertones are implied. Well if you haven’t already picked that up. It defines both tangible and intangible boundaries. Inside and outside. Is it the control of the outside from the inside? A mere realization of our inability to have absolute control maybe? It’s all in the mind, it begins there, manifests in relation to external world and is decoded and perceived by the mind again. Well, a touching moment…
Loyiso Qanya
Corner Gunk
c. 21st century

Key Words The Corner; The Private Corner; Corner House; Cape Corner; Cornering; Black Corner.

African, European, Indian and many other cultures melted together into one rainbow culture (is this true?). The artwork titled Corner Gunk at the Alfred De Pass Gallery presents the new reality of our social issues and challenges while questioning our histories as South Africans. This artwork takes the shape of our national flag but in reverse. The black part being the dirty corner that continued to be ignored and un-cleaned while white walls were re-painted for our visitors to see. The reversal of the national flag could be addressing a range of issues from social mockery to regression since the adoption of our new national flag. One has to be very close though in order to notice this dirty corner. It has to be lived, it has to be felt, before even starting to comment about it. The rainbow rhythm of South Africa…(What a touching moment).

In our national flag what does this black triangular corner represent? From modern art galleries to ancient rock art sites, from museums to cultural villages, from jazz clubs to open air festivals have such critical issues been addressed. Who is willing to do the dirty job? A contemporary artwork like this one presents an opportunity for us as South Africans to go through our back yards, to do our critical introspections in order to arrive at the space bigger and lighter than the empty corner where emancipation means the continued re-negotiation of meanings. Where it is acceptable to differ or to be different, presenting endless possibilities of the ways one can live, feel and experience our South African culture.
Bongani Mkhonza

A Handshake With A Finger That Tickles The Inside Of Your Palm

"Procedure, after all, has been followed in each case, and, as any bureaucrat will tell you, this is much more important than the phantom stuff of truth"

Tom Morton, 2005. Maurizio Cattelan: Infinite Jester, in The artist’s joke, 2007, edited by Jennifer Higgie. London, Cambridge: MIT, Whitechapel: 205-211.

Conceived as a plan B to what would have been a more legitimate exhibition (complete with authorized wall space, windows, and real friends) Touching Moments confidently vacillates between flagrant delusions and ascetic candor, work and play, self-irony and ill-conceived judgment. As a project it forges and occupies a space within the precinct of art that, in open recognition of its impoverished currency, makes it seem somewhat worthwhile. Invited by Robert Weinek to facilitate an exhibition with the young curators (participants in an idols styled 18 month curator workshop/program organized by Cape), Christian Nerf and Douglas Gimberg were eventually compelled to resort to hijacking whatever exhibition was on at the national gallery – only to find that there was hardly anything there. Two of the main exhibition spaces were empty, the others filled with the somewhat staid permanent collection, the yield of the illustrious Pancho Guedes and a moving but nonetheless untouchable Ernest Cole exhibit. Finding out from a cleaning lady what we were unable to extract from the front desk, (that the upcoming exhibition was work by the ‘friends of the national gallery’) and then from another lady hidden in a spacious cupboard, that it was a members only event; it was conceded that all in all there was not much to think about and quite clearly nothing worth hijacking. The facilitators resorted to taking photographs of spatial defects.

We met Robert and the young curators at studio 2666 the following morning at 4:30 am. Cajoled on by the early hour, the coffee, rusks and the sherry, as well as Christian and Douglas’ thought provoking presentation, the meeting prompted a series of discussions that came as close as possible to what some might be able to call progressive.

One way of approaching Touching Moments would be to see it as a joke, a handshake with a finger that tickles the inside of your palm, funny because you don’t know how else to react but still awkwardly inept at forging any meaningful relation. Provided with envelopes containing a photograph of one of the selected defects which had been formatted as a work of art (artist, title, date) and the instruction to write a 300 word motivation for the work, the young curators generally approached the project in high spirits, squandered their R15 budget (provided as an entrance fee for the gallery) on air time, transport and other miscellaneous activities and ended up writing five remarkably convincing texts. Placed in an opportune position to speak art speak from an unquestionably non-serious position and reverting sardonically at times to the generic issues that populate the South African art imagination, the final texts read nonetheless as earnestly concentrated interpretations. Recited individually at the Cape offices before being published here, the initial readings were punctuated by self-depreciating giggles, yet while everyone was clearly enjoying the silliness of it all there was still an element of seriousness that undermined the superficiality of the performance. As an experimental process, Touching Moments has exhibited the impossibility of art to be taken seriously, as well as the impossibility of its practitioners to take this non-seriousness too seriously. The ineptitude of art to appear as a sincere pursuit elicits an extremely limited reverberation, as Maurizio Cattelan has repeatedly revealed, the borders of art are exceptionally flexible;

"What's a guy gotta do to piss someone off around here? You try to move the borders a little bit further, and then you realize how easily the art world can absorb any blow. But that's okay, I guess that's part of the game [...] wasn’t the dream of the avant garde to become completely mainstream?"

Maurizio Cattelan (or Massimiliano Gioni, Cattelan’s stand in alter ego) quoted by Tom Morton (ibid).

Like this very blog, which parades itself as an affiliate of the National Gallery, Touching Moments was, to an extent, an attempt to piss someone off, or at least, to take the piss. The opening event, brazenly held outside the National Gallery regardless of having no permission whatsoever, elicited more support than opposition from the gallery staff. The director of the gallery came outside and stood with everyone in the rain to listen to Ronald Suresh Roberts’ speech – she even praised the event afterwards and expressed disappointment that the soap boxes (a permanent installation of bronze soapboxes and a video camera that plays live, though without sound, inside the gallery) hadn’t been used as a platform instead. Despite this glaring lack of outrage, a sense of mischief still pervaded the entire occasion, even as everyone returned merrily to their Friday afternoons, wet paper bagged beers in hand and without so much as a slap on the wrist or a fine for drinking in public. Touching Moments is also, therefore, an exhibition of artists and art practitioners who are at home with the futility of their day jobs, content to play jokes on ourselves and each other without ever needing to laugh too hard. To paraphrase what Tom Morton (2005: 208) so articulately explains, ‘like institutionalized prisoners, what we really want isn’t liberty at all but rather a bigger cell, a better tobacco allowance and more accommodating wardens’.

Confronted then with the opportunity to stand up for something that no one really believes in, the best course of action is either to lie or do nothing. It’s too late to do nothing, and to lie would require an announcement of success, a thigh slapped and a back patted, which would completely undermine the most inspiring aspect of the project, its unashamed failure. To be honest, instead, it is enough to rephrase one of Slavoj Zizek’s favourite Marx brother’s jokes ('this man looks as an idiot, acts as an idiot; but this should not deceive you - he is an idiot!'), altering it then to ‘this exhibition sounds rubbish, looks rubbish; but this should not deceive you – it is rubbish!’.
Francis Burger
Read Chad Rossouw's review on Artthrob