14 December 2016

Exhibition: South Africa – Art of a Nation

‘South Africa – Art of a Nation’ runs until 26 February 2017 at the British Museum. It is an exhibition that took more than two years to develop and involved partnerships with 12 institutions in South Africa and 20 contemporary artists. Chris Spring took 9 MEG members round on a curator’s tour on Thursday 8 December. We began in the Great Court standing beside the BMW car painted by the artist Esther Mahlangu in 1991. She was invited to paint BMW’s 12th art car to celebrate the end of apartheid, and BMW paid for its transport to the exhibition. Esther herself came over to see her work on show, and appears in one of the films of visiting artists made by the British Museum. Another short film shows the car being installed. 


The exhibition home-page has film of artist Lionel Davies with his piece that includes a street map of District 6, and a self-portrait. Mary Sibande’s film interview is also here, describing her ‘Reversed Retrogress’ work in which two women face each other, one representing her grandmother, and another in purple, herself. Purple was the colour of the dye that the apartheid police laced their water cannon with, which was later turned against them. 




















The earliest item in the exhibition is a found pebble from Makapansgat with three circular indentations – two eyes and a mouth – collected 3 million years ago.  The exhibition contrasts ancient and new art in really interesting juxtapositions throughout. We loved it…

Thank you to Chris for taking the time to show us round.

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